When we hold things inside it hinders trust and cooperation and leads to lies, deceit, and mistrust, and ultimately it leads to a breakdown of communication and intimacy. The lack of confession in my life affects how I interact with those around me and with God, I’m finding, in surprising ways.
Confession can only happen in a place of trust, encourages honesty, and brings about healing and life. I’ve found this to be true in my relationship with my wife. I’ve never regretted confessing to her a weakness, a fear, a failure to be the man I want to be.
Open communication is important to the health of our relationship. We must be able to share openly our faults, our sins, our hurts.
“Confess your faults (or sins) to one another,” writes James, “and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (chapter 5, verse 16).
He seems to be saying that you cannot have effective prayer without the openness and honesty that comes from confession. He’s saying that our prayers are not effective when we aren’t open and honest with God, when our relationship is tainted by lies, deceit, and dishonesty.
I knew this to be important in my relationships with my wife and those around me, and I knew that God wants us to confess our sins to have them forgiven, but somehow I never made the connection that the confession, or lack thereof, effects how God responds to my prayers.
James then gives us the example of Elijah whose prayers were effective indeed.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [someone who needed confession], and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:17-18)
So as the scripture says, confess. Not to bring our dirty secrets out into the open, but because keeping it inside will taint your relationships, both with your spouse and your community, as well as with God. Confess, so that you may be healed.
And if you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life that confesses to you, cherish and honor that trust.