“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
This verse may seem a little different from other ones you’ve read before. David, in the Psalms, constantly asks God for forgiveness for his sins (Psalm 38:18, 32:5). 1 John 1:9 is also a clear example that we should confess our sins to God: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But this verse is clearly saying that we should also confess our sins to one another. As you have probably found out from experience, it doesn’t do any good to dwell on old grudges for a long time; you become bitter and cold-hearted inside. Instead, we should strive to be like God and forgive other people no matter what.
confess: to admit a wrongdoing, crime, or error openly. trespass: a sin or act of wrongdoing.
Notice the last word in the definition of confess: openly. This doesn’t mean that when we admit what we have done wrong, we try to hide the whole truth. Instead of telling your friend, “Um, yeah, I guess I kind of did tell people that it was all, um, just your fault that we got an F on our project last week,” you should tell them, “I’m really sorry I told that lie about you slacking off on our project last week.” Don’t hold back your apologies! Even though you might lose a friend or be disliked by other people, at least you’ll have a clear conscience and be right with God.
effective: causing a result, especially the desired or intended result.
fervent: showing ardent or extremely passionate enthusiasm.
What is an effective, fervent prayer? According to these definitions, an effective prayer is one that produces the result you wanted it to; a fervent prayer is one that you are enthusiastic about. Be excited about praying! I’m not just giving advice to make you follow it—I need to follow my own advice too! At least at my youth group, there’s usually only one or two people willing to pray out loud. A lot of us would like that to change. I think you’ll be surprised what enthusiastic praying will do for you. Demonstrating this point, James 5:16 declares, “…pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
This equation not only works for prayer, but for anything you do. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” In order to work at something with your whole heart, you must first be willing to do it. Three days, eight trash cans, and ten boxes later, I was able to make my room look presentable, but I couldn’t have done it without the enthusiasm I had for the end result.
righteous: considered to be correct or justifiable.
avail: to be helpful or useful.
To be justifiable means to be capable of being shown as worthy to accepted standards. Obviously, we need God immensely—we wouldn’t be alive without Him (Romans 6:23)! I have learned that many times when the Bible has the phrase, “a righteous man,” it usually means the righteous person that you have become after being cleansed by Jesus’s blood. Romans 3:10 clearly states, “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one,” but 1 John 1:9 shows there is still hope for us to be freed from the burden of sin, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The prayer of a someone who has been saved by grace is very helpful or useful.
After applying all of these definitions, the simplified version of James 5:16 is:
“Admit your sins to one another openly, and pray for each other, that you may be healed. The successful, enthusiastic prayer of a justifiable person helps much.”
Hope this helped you understand the Bible just a little bit more!
Did you know that Heather's favorite candy is Hershey's dark chocolate?!?!