Confess your sins

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.

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About Will Fitzgerald

I work on recommendation systems and lexical resources for Wordnik.

One thought on “Confess your sins

  1. Carole says:

    I have a friend who said it was good to have someone to “tell it to like it is”. I think is one of the basics of confession, to be able to talk about the struggles, hurts, challenges, joys, and triumphs in one’s life. Confession does not necessarily mean talking about all the sin and failures. Sometimes confession is nothing more than not living up to the example that Christ has set, and no one can do that as completely as we ought. And when the writer of James talks about healing, that suggests to me that the confession may be in part one of wounded-ness and hurt.
    But more than the confession, it is the prayer of the righteous that captures my attention. One can, if one is so inclined, to confess to the air or a tree or anything else. It is not just the saying of confession, but it being heard. If one can believe within themselves that God hears their confession, that is good. And if one prays, confident that God hears them, that is also good; very good. But praying with another who prays with confidence and rootedness, that is prayer that hears because it lifts the one prayed for to God and binds the wounds that has wrung forth the confession. Let me be clear; the prayer that is being offered is not only to God, but spoken and structured so that the person being prayer for is ministered to. This is what I believe the writer of James is pinpointing. That the person hearing the confession is not just a listening ear, but a caring heart that is connected to God in a vital way, and acts in such a way that the person confessing is also connected to God.
    Thank you Will for inviting me to share my thoughts.

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