James 5: 13-18
Step 5: I have wronged and hurt others by my actions and words; I will commit to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
Confession needs your prayers, accountability, and diligence! Prayer is not just an exercise we do. Rather, it is the active communication we have with God; it is the most important act for us in any matter or endeavor. Prayer is not about our will; rather, it is a means of seeking His (Matt. 6:33). Prayer does not just prepare us for recovery and healing; prayer is our healing. Prayer is not just a means of preparing us for the encounters and battles of life; it is the battle! Prayer is more about being the greatest work we can do than about the results we receive from it! Remember, our obedience is what is important, not how others respond to us. We are even called to bless those unreasonable people who hurt us, and as we do that, we mature by remaining true to His Lordship. You cannot be responsible for how others respond and treat you when you seek their forgiveness, because you are acting in godly character (Romans 12:14-21).
Ask God, be real, be honest, be yourself, and make sure your motives are right. We are never to seek to manipulate God to get our way, just as we are not to do so with others. In this spirit, we can come to one another and seek accountability and reconciliation. We can confess and be on guard with sin, so it stops and does not fester or escalate. And, as Elijah demonstrated to us, always remember that a righteous person is a praying person; we cannot do anything of meaning or significance for our Lord unless we are a person and a church of prayer!
- Confess. We are called to be accountable to one another, to state what we are going through and struggling with to someone in confidence who will listen and help guide us by His Word. It is not about going to a pastor or priest, but to God directly, and with accountability, to another trusted person, small group, or mentor. We cannot do the Christian life by ourselves; it is not a spectator or an individual sport! Christianity is not for lone rangers, it is for community!
- Righteous man means a person who is rooted in his or her faith to Christ and has a growing prayer life that also shows up in his or her behavior.
- Elijah, in 1 Kings 18, was a miracle worker. James uses him as an inspiration and incentive to the power and prominence we have available to us. Elijah represents the "everyman," who, by his prayer life, was powerfully used by God (1 Kings 17:1; 18: 1, 41-46; 1 Sam. 12:17-18)!
- This also refers to submitting to the sovereignty of God (Proverbs 1:24-33; 6:16; 8:13, Isaiah 57:15; 66:2; Micah 6:8). We remove our pride by "clinging" to the cross, confessing our sins, and seeking forgiveness from God and others whom we have offended. Our discipline in the faith will help strengthen our walk as we continue to grow in Him.
- God judges us by the knowledge of what we have learned. Staying ignorant, thinking "I will not seek forgiveness so I will not be held accountable" is an even a greater offence. It is not the amount of the matter we have; it is our response to it that matters. He knows the truth about each of us, there is nothing to hide, so confess and repent!
We need to hear His call. Christ calls us to take up the cross and deny ourselves; this is extreme discipleship, a call that is to cancel out our will so we can submit to His. When we confess Christ as our Savior, it means He is our Lord. We are to surrender to His direction, call, and purpose. When we claim to be His, we need to commit and follow, leaving behind all that hinders and causes us to go astray. This goes against our will, experiences, and our culture that says, you are number one, and you deserve whatever you want. But, usually what we want is not what is best. This is what got you in trouble in the first place! Yes, we deserve better; and better is to be in Christ and to follow His ways. When we deny ourselves, we are liberating ourselves from misdirected ways to His way-from temporary, skewed fun to eternal wonder.
How do I do this? Keep your eyes on God, not on people! If you only seek God for your needs, you will never understand God, yourself, or His wonderful plan for you (John 17:22)! Your faith would be on your terms only. How sad that would be! How much you would lose!
Keep up with your spiritual growth and prayer. Our private prayers are the ones that shape us; our public prayers are the ones that are to help others be shaped, and be in spiritual agreement to express praise, worship, seek forgiveness from God and each other, confess sins, make petitions for one another, and teach one another (Luke 11:2-4; Acts 1:14; 4:24).
Many misguided Christians will say to another Christian who is ill or going through troubles, that he or she does not have enough faith or that he or she has unconfessed sin in his or her life and that is why the sickness or dysfunction has come; then they use this passage to back up their uncaring and insensitive claims. But, this is not what God is saying! It is not about the healing; it is about showing the love and care of our Lord. Making statements such as these does otherwise, and misses the call of the Scriptures! If you are earnestly praying, and perhaps are frustrated that you have not received an answer or the healing you desire, remember: while you are waiting, God is working (Matt. 21:22; John 14:14)!
Prayer is our primary means of communication with our Lord. It is also the bond that builds community, churches, and marriages, as it synergizes and brings out God's love! It is a marvel and a wonder that we, as created human beings, can obtain direct communication with God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Prayer shows us His love and concern for us just in allowing us to make our presence and requests known, and His even further, unfathomable love in that He earnestly hears us and gives us an answer and intervention! Prayer is precious; it is not to be a half-hearted endeavor, or just an empty routine, an unctuous ceremony, or a meaningless ritual. Prayer is not about the recitation of words, nor is it about posture, place, or expression usage; it is an outpouring of the posture of our heart to His. Prayer is an expression of our connection of love for what Christ has done for us in giving each of us this precious relationship with God. It shows our love and dependence on Him. It is a primary avenue for us to learn and grow in Him, and to be better equipped in life to touch others in His Name. Therefore, it is a relationship of dependency, as any real growth must involve the surrender of our will to His Will. Prayer pulls us up by the roots and plants us further in His presence and will! Beware! We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can live our Christian life without prayer, as one could be married or have a child and never have communication with that spouse or child. It could be done, but the relationship would be absent and soon would be bankrupt; we cannot do life on our own. Even if we could (and many Christians seem to), God just might let you; this would really be the time for fear and dropping to our knees!
Prayer is not just about what our own needs are. It is about putting our lives and experiences in Him, sharing our days and lives, both in times of urgency and times of happiness, and bringing others to our thoughts and into our prayers. Continual and effective prayer will build our relationship with God and motivate our recovery. We will realize that He is in charge of all that happens in our lives, and that we are in His Hands. How we interact with Christ as Lord and respond to others is rooted in how we communicate. Our spiritual growth and how we can connect to God with an effectual relationship is determined by how effective our prayer life is. It can be put this way: all we do in life is based on our ability to communicate-and our principle communication is to our loving Lord!
- What does Confession involve and mean for you?
- When you start to confess to others, what do you think you will lose? Consider what you lose is your isolation, pain, bad health, and bad relationships.
- How does prayer set a tone for us in our behaviors and insights? How can prayer help your church or relationships?
- Why do some Christians feel that prayer is all about getting what we want? How do you feel about that? What can be done to show people the primary purpose of prayer?
- How does prayer become the means to line us up with God? What can you do to make sure your motives are right with prayer? How will this help overcoming your dependency?
- Do you believe that prayer can meet all the things and needs that you will ever face? Do you have the confidence that your prayers are heard and are answered? How can you have more confidence in prayer?
- How does harboring resentment and unforgiveness deteriorate your body and mind? Can you give an example?
- How does knowing that God can cause us to be sick to get us out of sin keep you motivated in the right direction?
- What can you do to make your prayer life more time-invested, more exciting, more powerful, and more fulfilling?
- What will you do about confession and repentance? How will that play a part in your Fruit and character? When will you do it?
- What does it mean to you to cling to the cross? How will confessing your sins and seeking forgiveness from God and others whom you have offended help you? Now, what are you going to do about it?
- Look over your list and be in prayer and continue to seek these people out, remember they may fear you, so go to public places, bring a friend, and have them do so too. And keep in mind when you do this in step 8, most people will not be positively responsive to you. You are not responsible how they respond; you are only responsible that you seek forgiveness.
Mediate on these passages for the next week or more: Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Peter 1: 1-4
© 1990, 2006, 2008, Dr. Richard J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org