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February 28, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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 (NIV)
In this devotional series, we’re talking about “the good life.” In today’s verse, we’ll be taking a look at the power of community. In the verses that precede verse 16, James writes about the prayer of faith. He encourages believers to pray if they’re in trouble. He instructs those who are happy to praise. He tells those who are sick to be anointed and prayed over. He promises that those who have sinned will be forgiven.
Again, in today’s Scripture, in the context of community, we can see that confession is designed to happen. While some don't practice the discipline of confession as formally as others in the faith, there’s something powerful that happens when we confess our sins with other people in order to be made right with God. There is mutual accountability and responsibility when we pray for each other. As the apostle Peter writes, we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession . . .” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV). So, we can see there’s also authority in the act of confession.
Finally, James tells us to confess so that we may be healed. Wow, there is healing and freedom in confession! It’s like the release valve is depressed and the pressure and weight of sin that we’ve carried is removed.
In the second part of today’s verse, we see that righteous people have powerful and effective prayers, which begs the question, “Who are righteous people?” On first thought, they might be giants of the faith like Noah, Abraham, Moses, or Elijah. But, they could also be our pastors and ministry leaders.
For more context, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV), which says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus, whom God sent, came and exchanged our sin for His righteousness on the cross. This is the beautiful exchange! This is the gospel.
Therefore, those who invite Jesus into their hearts and whose personal lives are a reflection of Him and led by the Holy Spirit, are righteous. So inherently, this means the prayers of all believers are powerful and effective.
So, don’t hold back! Gather your closest friends, or your spouse, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as “you confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” That’s part of the good life!
PAUSE: Do you feel as though your prayers are powerful and effective? Why or why not?
PRACTICE: Confess with someone this week and pray with each other.
PRAY: God, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus to exchange my sins for Your righteousness. Thank You for offering forgiveness for my sin and healing for my sickness! Help my life to be a reflection of You to others, Jesus. Amen.