Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
If you want to have power in your prayer life, you must regularly confess your sins. God wants to remove anything that would separate you from Him and you from others.
How often have we simply prayed, “Lord, forgive me for all my sins” without making a conscious effort to discover our faults or shortcomings? More than our words, God wants our hearts; He wants to see a changed life. Real confession springs from a repentant heart, and a repentant heart follows through with a change of behavior. What about when we have offended, or been offended by, another person? Pride keeps the offense concealed. But real confession (that which desires to please God) follows through and seeks reconciliation (confession and/or forgiveness, as required) from that person. The person who, above everything else, desires a real and loving relationship with God will have a real and loving relationship with others (Colossians 3:13).
In Psalm 139:23, David shows what it means to want to confess his sins to God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He apparently had confessed everything he knew about so went a step beyond: he asked God to search his heart and see if there was anything else that was an offense and needed to be confessed. Surely, that is the spirit of confession God is looking for in us.
The promise of God is that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). In other words, there is a purpose for forgiveness: to be cleansed from the effects of sin in our life. If we don’t confess our unrighteousness it remains as a barrier between God and us.
After all, it is the prayer of a righteous man (or woman) that accomplishes much, James wrote. Is timely confession of sin a missing ingredient in your prayer life? Ask God to search your heart today, and be prepared to confess whatever He reveals. Then rest in the results of powerful prayers.
Heavenly Father, I confess that confession is hard! Please give me the humility to bare my soul; to admit that I have sinned; to find reconciliation with you and others. Amen