To attract buyers to properties in disarray, realtors post only pictures of exteriors. We tend to do the same. We entertain friends on our “front lawns” for years rather than risk inviting them inside. Ashamed of our emotional laundry strewn about and our insecurities stacked up like dirty dishes, we work hard to shut them out and attempt to sell them on our facades. We resist intrusion into our private lives as much as we resist intrusion into our homes. We key the front door of our souls with smart locks and install glass breaks on every window. No way will someone get in without our noticing—and no way will they get away with it.
Gettin' Into Your Business
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
"gettin' into your business"
Yet James 5:16 states that we are to confess our sins to our friends and pray so that we may be healed. Doesn’t just thinking about that kind of exposure sear? But God is light without a speck of darkness, and we must stagger into it together if we want to become more like him. Just like our eyes adjust to the light, we adjust to communal confession with time. Instead of diminishing our experiences as “no big deal,” we can confess the moments we feel resentful, bitter, superior, hateful, or despairing. What we categorize as small transgressions require as much attention as the “big” sins. If we resist exposure to the loving correction of friends, how can we speak truthfully to God himself? Therefore, we need to have—and need to be—friends who challenge each other to come clean.
pray and be healed
Jesus acts as general contractor of our spiritual renovation, and he delegates some work to our friends to get the job done. It’s uncomfortable when they pinpoint how we operate—like a bed-in-a-box, tightly wound and self-contained, or like a Saturday flea market, scattered and unpredictable. We wonder if they’ll stay, or if they’ll run out of our inner rooms and spill our secrets to anyone who will listen. While some friends do, indeed, betray us, those who remain stand guard over our confidences with death grips, and with tender hands, wipe away our shame. They whisper the promise that in Christ there is no condemnation for those who love him.
Where confession renders us raw, prayer soothes us with the balm of the Spirit. James says the work of covering prayer wields “great power.” The Message paraphrases it this way: “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” Friends with whom we can confess and pray help us to demolish sin. They sweep out the rubbish and raise our spiritual property value. They spit- shine and elbow-grease their way through our souls until the interior gleams like the exterior. These are true friends to be reckoned with. Because of that, they are the best friends of all.
Watch Session Six
The Unique Ministry of Friendship
If you don’t practice confession and prayer with your friends, what keeps you from doing so? What would need to change for this to happen and what is one step you can take to make it happen? If you do practice confession and prayer with your friends, how has this influenced your life—what has challenged you? In what ways has it changed you?
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