(Adapted from Experiencing God Day by Day; Blackaby Ministries)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Confession is not just for those who don’t mind admitting their faults. It is God’s provision to clear obstacles that hinder our relationships with God and with others.
Sin eats away at our spirit and our relationship with God. However, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (John 1:9)
Confession is a command given to every believer. But if confession does not come out of repentance, it is merely admission, and not true confession.
The Psalmist’s word-picture is powerful, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalms 32:3-5)
Pride will attempt to discourage you from admitting to others the sinfulness of your heart. It is important to confess sin specifically and not hide behind generalities. It is one thing to pray, “O Lord, forgive my sin.” It’s quite another to identify specifically in painful honesty.
James advised that when we sin, it is important for us to confess not only to God, but also to our fellow believers. There is a tremendous freedom that comes as we openly acknowledge the sinfulness of our actions to others. Confession is not a sign of weakness; it is evidence of your refusal to allow sin to remain in your life. A desire to please God will compel you to confess your sin and rid yourself of its oppressive burden.
Significantly, James linked confession with prayer. Your prayers will be hindered if you hold on to unconfessed sin. When James promised that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” he did so in the context of confession.
If you wish to have a powerful prayer life, you must regularly confess your sin. Only when there are no obstacles separating you from God and others will your prayers be effective.
Pray that you will acknowledge your sin and what is keeping you from God – and that you will be faithful to confess it to God and to others, as God leads you.