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)
There is a lot of depth in these statements of James. When was the last time you confessed your wrongdoings to another person in order to achieve healing from the hurt your sinning does you? What power have you found there? And in the prayers of others for your healing? And the prayers you raise up for one another?
I am especially reminded of a men’s group I was privileged to be part of, now many years ago, when I was in grad school. The group went by the initials JJSG (but we were sworn to secrecy–or at least affirmed to secrecy–not to reveal what the acronym meant). We were men in our thirties, all married, most with children. It was so liberating to be able to say what was on our hearts, including the confession of sins that beset us. I do believe some real healing and understanding came out of that group, as we talked, and as we prayed for one another.
Of course, some church traditions have “oracular confession” as part of their present or past practices, and although I think it dangerous for one man to carry the burdens of so many people, there is real power in the regular and expected practice of confession of one’s own particular sins, beyond the general confession we might make as part of a congregation. And, alas, even that is less common than it might be.
Of course, my co-writer has done work in which “confession” is expected (although perhaps not by that name). Carole, what’s your take?
My confession is this: this hasn’t been a standard practice for me in the past few years, and I’m wondering if any reader might have suggestions for taking it up as a spiritual discipline within the context of the Mennonite church in particular.