Confess Your Faults One To Another

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

James 5:16

Prayer time! It’s that special time where brothers and sisters in Christ come together to share their joys and sorrows, their praises and requests. It is the setting that allows people to open their hearts and share personal needs and concerns dear to their hearts. The dialogue may go something like this:

  • “Please pray for my sick grandma.”
  • “My friend needs to get saved.”
  • “Pray for my wayward child.”
  • “Praise that my husband found a job!”

Prayer time is the highlight of your meeting. It is the moment where trivial conversation is set aside and all attention is focused on each others’ needs. Everyone in the room has very real and serious situations to bring before the Lord in prayer. You are all eager to join together in asking God to meet those needs and to praise Him for answered prayer. Often times, emotions are high and tears flow freely. The time is sweet and precious and brings everyone closer to each other and to the Lord.

We love to bring our requests for physical healing, spiritual guidance, and even practical needs to others and before the Lord. We pray for new jobs, financial needs, and wisdom to make decisions. No request is too trivial to lift up to God.

The Prayers of the Righteous

It is common to hear the last part of James 5:16 concerning prayer. As a matter of fact, I have even been one to quote it. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) availeth much.” What a wonderful thought! After all, we know that prayer is powerful, and we desire to take advantage of that power in order to meet our needs and the needs of others.

Even though we may be eager to pray, there is often something missing in our meetings. Our prayers seem to be routine and shallow. We do not seem to really be connecting with God or each other. God’s presence could be felt even deeper if we would only include the beginning of James 5:16 in our prayer time.

Confess Your Faults

Verse 16 begins by telling us to confess our faults one to another. What???? I do not want to talk about my sin. Asking others to pray for someone else’s sin is comfortable enough, but I don’t want to talk about mine!

I have found that I am great at pointing out the sins of others, but I am not so good at admitting and confessing my own faults. Oh, I am aware of them, I just do not like to admit to them. I guess by neglecting to confess my faults, I somehow convince myself that they do not exist. Or perhaps if I ignore them, then no one else will notice. Yet I am only fooling myself. I might be able to hide some of my sins, but most of the time, my faults are obvious to everyone.

This reminds me of the passage in Matthew 7 that says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (ESV)

According to this passage, I do not seems to be the only person who suffers with this problem. As a matter of fact, it seems to be a universal problem, spanning the ages. People struggled with recognizing their own sins in the early church, and we still struggle with the same problem today.

There is nothing as freeing as confessing our sins. When we are able to admit our weaknesses and failures not only to God, but to another brother or sister in Christ, then we can begin the healing process.

The Bible teaches us here that we are to confess our fault (sins) to each other and to pray for each other. This is God’s plan for fellow believers in the church. But are we following this principle? Are we creating a culture in our churches that encourage people to confess their faults one to another? How can we bear one another’s burdens if we don’t know what they are?

4 Reasons Why We Don’t Confess Our Faults

  1. Pride. We don’t like to admit our sins. We want people to view us in the best possible light. It is hard to let others know where we fail, because we desire for them to see us as righteous and godly.
  2. Fear. We are afraid of how others might react or what they might think of us. We fear that they will view us as bad, undisciplined, ungodly, or maybe even unsaved. There could be consequences of admitting our sin.
  3. Experience. Many times we fail to confess our faults because we did it once, only to be met with criticism, rejection, gossip, etc. Now we know better than to speak out.
  4. Lack of Example. No one else admits their sins. They all look like good Christians. We think that no one else struggles with sins like we do.

Confession is hard. It goes against our nature of wanting to protect ourselves. It makes us vulnerable and opens us up to criticism. Even though confessing our sins is hard, there are benefits to doing so.

6 Benefits of Confessing Our Faults

  1. Honesty. Confessing our faults requires us to be honest with ourselves and with others. The first step to making changes in our lives, is admitting that we have a problem.
  2. Prayer. When we open up about our faults and struggles to other believers, it allows them to be able to lift us up in prayer before God.
  3. Edification. Sharing our hearts with fellow Christians, opens the door for them to encourage us in our Christian walk. Most of the time we cannot overcome a besetting sin on our own. We need help from others.
  4. Accountability. Confessing our faults to one another gives us someone to be accountable to. Fellow Christians can check in with us to see how we are doing. There is nothing like knowing someone is going to check in with us to deter us from doing wrong.
  5. Healing. Sin causes hurt. No matter what our sin is, someone will be hurt, including ourselves. Confessing our sin to each other can allow the healing to begin in our own hearts and in those we have hurt.
  6. Restoration. Confessing our sins makes way for restored relationships. We come into right standing with God and fellow men when we confess our sins. God will hear our prayers and restore our hearts.

A Culture of Confession

Some of the most precious times I have had in church services, prayer meetings, ladies groups, or one on one times are when people are confessing sins. I’m not talking about people standing up one by one and confessing all their sins. I’m talking about someone giving a heartfelt testimony of how God is working. It is when a fellow Christian is so overwhelmed with their struggles that they plead for help. Or when someone is filled with gratitude to God for helping them overcome a temptation.

Those are the times others can rally around the sinner with prayer, support, and words of comfort and encouragement. Often others in the group have struggled with similar sins and can offer an understanding spirit. Others learn how to pray better. Understanding our mutual inclinations to sins and our desire for repentance and healing brings a sense of unity to the body of Christ – if we let it!

Unfortunately, we do not always feel free to confess our faults to each other. Often times our critical natures stifle the openness of confession. We have seen people criticized, gossiped about, shunned, or treated poorly because of known sin. There is often a lack of compassion and willingness to help when someone is struggling with temptation. Likely we have been guilty of this ourselves.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to be part of a group of believers where a child could admit that he struggles to obey his parents? A teenager could reveal her temptation do wrong in order to try to fit in. A husband could admit his struggle with pornography. A mom could share how she lost her temper with her children-again. Newly saved members could share their struggles with old habits and past sins. And the list could go on. Wouldn’t it be encouraging if even the pastor and church leaders could confess their sins?

All Have Sinned

The Bible says we are all sinners. And we all know that simply being saved does not take away our sin nature. That is why God gave us 1 John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (KJV)

We get this strange notion in the church that we are to be saved and instantly become holy and without sin. The newly saved sinner is supposed to look the part, play the part, and fit right in, immediately forsaking all wrong and doing everything right. Even members who have grown up in church and have been saved since childhood are expected to be squeaky clean. But, unfortunately, that isn’t reality. We all continue to struggle and to give in to temptation.

A Word of Caution

Even though this passage teaches the confession of sins, there are some pitfalls to consider. To borrow from a common phrase, “What is said in the prayer meeting, stays in the prayer meeting!” That is right! Gossip is sin and should never be a part of prayer and confession.

  1. Never gossip! When others have confessed their sin to you or in a group, Keep Your Mouth Shut! Yes, I am talking to you! And myself. It is tempting to leave the meeting and discuss what we heard with others in the meeting or a friend who did not attend. Remember, would you want someone to talk about you in that way?
  2. Avoid comparisons. Our temptation is to compare one person’s sin against our own. We tend to think that our sin is not as bad as the person’s next to us. Or maybe we want to play the victim and compare how bad our sin is to the other person’s. After all, how could they be so concerned about their petty little mistakes, when I have this big struggle over here!
  3. Don’t judge! We have all done it. We judge a person based on our own experiences and preconceived ideas. Thoughts like ‘how can they struggle with that,’ ‘they must not be trying hard enough’, or ‘they should just walk away’ come to our mind. Remember, our job is to pray, help, and encourage, not to judge.
  4. Show compassion. Just because someone sins differently than you do doesn’t make you a better person. Consider your own struggle. Treat others how you want to be treated. Reach out with love and compassion. Be understanding, knowing you have your own sinful struggles.

Confession Challenge

Let me challenge you along with myself to confess our sins. It is time to be real with each other. Make it okay to share struggles and failures. Do not make the confession of sins awkward and don’t overshare. However, make it normal and acceptable. Let us come before the Lord and our brothers and sisters in Christ with humble hearts, broken over our sin, and with the desire for forgiveness and healing. Lift one another up in prayer and let’s see what God will do in our own hearts and in our churches as a result!

Wife, mom, grandma, and country girl. I am living by faith and encouraging others to do the same. I integrate faith, family and country living.

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