The Power of Prayer in Our Lives

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” – James 5:16 

Have you ever had someone confess to you deep, dark things you had no business knowing? Perhaps someone clearly wronged you and never bothered to apologize. Confession can be a tricky thing. What does it mean to confess our sins to each other? When should we do it, and what’s the purpose of it?

First of all, only God can forgive sins. If you belong to Christ, He has forgiven all of your sins––past, present, and future. Your salvation is secure. Your sins are gone.

Then, why confess? When we sin, it doesn’t take away our salvation, but it does hurt the quality of our relationship with God. When we hold sin in our heart, it places emotional distance between us and God. God wants us to confess our sins, not because we need salvation again, but because He desires intimacy with us. It’s hard to draw near to God when we’re actively holding on to sin.

So, if God is the One we wrong by sinning, why does James tell us to confess our sins to each other? One reason is that confession strengthens our relationship with others. If we have sinned against someone, we should confess to that person what we have done and ask for our relationship with them to be restored. At times, we may need to confess to a group, if our sin has hurt them collectively.

Another reason is that by confessing, or identifying the sin aloud, you acknowledge your continued weakness in a certain area. In this case, you might confess to a trusted individual or group (like your LifeGroup). This isn’t done necessarily because you need their forgiveness, but rather so they can encourage you, hold you accountable, and pray for you in this area.

Yet another reason to confess to a mature, trusted brother or sister is to gain perspective. This individual can speak God’s truth to your heart and remind you of God’s faithfulness to forgive you when you confess your sins to Him (1 John 1:9). This may be needed if you continue to feel condemned and shamed, even though you have confessed your sin to God.

So, how do you know if you need to confess your sin to a fellow Christian? Ultimately, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Ask Him for clear direction. Considering these questions might also help:

  • Was my sin against this person and/or did my sin affect this person?
  • Would this person encourage me, hold me accountable, and pray for me?
  • Would this person faithfully speak God’s truth to me regarding this matter?

Ask God to show you any unconfessed sins that are hindering your relationship with Him and with others. Then, be faithful to have the hard conversations, when necessary, to restore wounded relationships through confession and forgiveness.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.