CONFESSION & PRAYER will result in HEALING & DELIVERANCE: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)
As James brings his epistle to a conclusion, he turns his attention to believers in a church setting who are suffering (v. 13), sick (vv. 14-18) and backslidden (vv. 19-20). To effectively deal with sickness among believers, James proposes two things: the confession of faults to one another and praying for one another. Confession of faults to one another is necessary if there is to be healing since many sicknesses originate as a result of sin. This is evident from what Jehovah God had spoken to the Old Testament Israelites: “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you” (Exo. 15:26).
Our prayer of faith cannot operate as long as sins are not confessed: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). When confession is made, definite sins should be mentioned: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confession of faults is necessary, especially to those against whom the sins and injustice have been committed. If one sins against an individual, confession should be made to that individual. When there is trouble between individuals, they should get together and ask for pardon, and do all in their power to make things right (restitution). This was what our Lord Jesus had spoken: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24). This is especially true when one partakes of the Lord’s Table as our unconfessed sins can bring sickness and sometimes even death (see 1 Cor. 11:27-32).
We should not only confess our sins to one another, but we should pray for one another as well. Instead of holding grudges and allowing resentments to build up, we should maintain ourselves in fellowship with others through prayer. We see that God restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends and as much as he had before (Job 42:10). However, as per James, in order for our prayers to be effective and powerful, we should meet the following five conditions:
- We should become righteous before God. This happens when we repent, confess, turn away from our sins, and live righteously. We should not allow sin to cloud our conversation with God as God will not hear us when sin lurks in our hearts (Ps. 66:18).
- We should pray fervently. For our prayers to be heard and answered, we should pray with passion, sincerity, diligence and discipline.
- We should pray effectively. For our prayer to be effective, we should expect results as we pray.
- We should pray specifically. Our prayers should be specific and to the point. This was how Elijah prayed - specifically, first for a drought then for rain.
- We should pray based on God’s Word. We are required to pray in accordance with God’s will (1 John 5:14), just like Elijah prayed based on God’s directive in Deut. 28:12, 24.