THAT YOU MAY BE HEALED…
Bro. Mathew Paul, Coimbatore
3. Prayer for one another:
In v.16 James talks about praying for one another. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”(Js.5:16). Again, this verse is a misunderstood verse of the Scripture. Taking a cue from this verse, our Roman Catholic friends have developed confessions to priests. Surely this verse is not talking about that at all. It is talking about interpersonal confession of sins when ever required. ‘Healing’ in this verse does not merely mean physical healing. It is an all inclusive word and it means the healing of the whole being. It means mental healing as well as physical healing. It means to become wholesome and whole before God. Mt.13:15; 1 Pet 2:24, Heb 12:13 and other verses in the Scripture clearly tell us that ‘healing’ is much more than mere physical healing. In all the above verses the total well being of the person is in mind. Here in our verse also it is the same.
For the total well being of a believer James suggests that we need to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another.
Are we enjoying wholesome lives in our families and in our assemblies? If not James tells us the secret of our failure. We have failed to confess our sins to one another and we have failed in our responsibility of praying for one another. The word for ‘sins’ is not the regular words used for sin in the Bible. The regular words for sin include the idea of transgression and missing the mark and being unrighteous, but the word here carries the idea of ‘fall’ or we may say ‘pit-falls’ or ‘failures’ or ‘faults’ or ‘offences’ in our lives. They may not be the regular things which we call ‘sins’ but small failures in our lives which make life unwholesome. It may be my body language which hurts the other believer in the pew. We may not have said nor done any thing wrong. It may not be called a sin in the regular sense of the word. Nevertheless, it has wounded my brother or sister either at home or in the house of God. If I do nothing about it, the wholesome life which we should enjoy at home or in the house of God is affected. They need to be healed, and that healing is implemented by our confession and our praying for one another.
Is some one hurting you in one way or the other? I suggest, you begin to pray for that person. Pray for the spiritual growth of that person. Pray for the material needs of that person. Amazingly you will see that your prayers have tremendous impact on both of your lives.
Do you feel that some one is hurt by you in some way? I suggest it is time for you to talk to that person and rectify the situation. To confess means ‘to say the same thing’. To confess sin means to agree with that person and say that it was wrong to have done something which hurt them. On the other hand if you say, “but… you see…”, that is giving reason or explanation. That is not confession. If your reason or explanation does not satisfy the other person, you need to confess in order to enjoy wholesome life.
Are you enjoying a wholesome life? Have you been hurt and no one bothers about it? Or have you caused a hurt in the heart of a fellow believer or member of the family and you are not bothered it at all?
Do you know that your worship and singing and offerings have not been acceptable to God if you are living an unreconciled life? “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar and there remember that your brother has some thing against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering”(Mt.5:23.24).
Let us not fool ourselves thinking that we are great worshippers or that we are great givers. Our worship and our gifts would never reach God if our failures in our relationship to our fellow believers were not rectified, confessed, prayed over and reconciled with. Let each one of us search our hearts to see if there are pit-falls or failures in our lives which prevent us from being wholesome worshippers before God and being acceptable to Him.
How often we go to the Lord’s presence after hurting one another at home? Let us begin at home. Let us learn to say ‘sorry’ to our loved ones. Let us be open before them. If we harbor ill-feelings towards one another, remember that we are the losers. Their wounds have come between us and God and we would lose our ever abiding presence of God.
There are verses of Scripture at which I shudder. One of them is found in Mt.18:7. Jesus, our Lord said, “…woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes”. Have I been causing a hindrance to my fellow believer? Remember, I am under a woe! Brother, sister, wake up, get reconciled, remove all causes of stumbling from your lives, humble yourselves before God and before man and rectify the situation. Let that woe go away from your life. Be a blessing to the family and to the assembly and indeed to the world around you.
There is a verse in 1Cor. 8:18 where it says to sin against a brother by wounding his weak conscience is to sin against Christ. How many of us are guilty before God in this area of our lives! God, have mercy on us. Next Sunday before you stretch your hands for the bread and the wine at the time of remembrance, make sure that there are no unsettled issues in your life. Shudder to eat and drink judgment to yourself (1Cor.11:29).
Let us confess our pit-falls, failures, faults and our offences to one another. Let us pray for one another. Thus let us enjoy a healed and a wholesome relationship not only with one another but also with God.
To His Name be all glory.