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“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.”—James 5:16 (NASB)

I’m going to be completely transparent here. When I was a kid, going to confession was right up there with a trip to the dentist. It felt awkward, routine, and even a little scary. I’d get there and spell out all my “ugliness” only to walk away with a list of prayers I said every night anyway. And somehow that healed things between God and me? It didn’t make sense. The confessional for me as a young girl was (again, being transparent) a hollow experience.

Please, hear my heart. I’m not knocking how some Christian churches practice confession. But I very much prefer the method James provides in today’s Scripture. Because when it comes to accountability, confessing and confiding in someone I know on an intimate level has magnified my physical and spiritual wellness.

What James is proposing in today’s verse is to find a group of people you implicitly trust and share with them your struggles and sins. As a group, you pray for one another and ask the Lord to help you overcome the struggles or sins that’s plaguing everyone’s lives. Because, let’s face it, sin can cause both physical and spiritual pain.

But, there’s a caveat: We can’t be “yes men.” Understanding sin is vastly different from condoning it, we must do our part to be, as Solomon wrote, “iron sharpening iron.” Solomon adds that open rebuke is better than love that is concealed and to avoid a flattering tongue (Proverbs 27:5; 28:23). Essentially, we aren’t doing our friends any favors by pretending their sin is okay or overtly ignoring it. Personally, I appreciate when someone tells me I’m missing the mark and realigns my godly perspective. It means that person loves me enough to say the hard things.

Accountability in confession and prayer is central not only to the stability and growth of the individual, but to the overall health of the Church as well. Don’t take my word for it, look to God’s Word. Jesus taught to rebuke someone if they sin, and if he repents, forgive him (Luke 17:3). Paul writes to the churches that “if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well” (Galatians 6:1 NASB). If we all practiced this, how much stronger would the church be? (see Proverbs 15:22).

Let’s strive to be more accountable with God and with one another by helping our brothers and sisters live a holy life, correcting with gentleness and love and provoking one another to righteousness (Hebrews 3:12–13; 10:23–25). Be transparent and be healed.

Pause: Who is someone in your life who helps you stay accountable? Do you reciprocate?

Practice: Read Scripture that exhorts fellowship and try to overcome any fear or baggage that prevents you from practicing what James proposes.

Pray: Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever struggles they are facing, the “waiting rooms” they are in, the sins that beset them . . . I ask for Your mercy, teaching, strength, and perseverance to overcome them and bolster the body of Christ. Amen.

About the Author

Lisa Supp

Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.