If you want to experience more of God’s peace, try doing exactly what James tells you: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16, nlt). Make it a practice to confess your sins not only to God but to a mature brother or sister in Christ. Confessing our sins to “someone with skin on” sounds like a recipe for creating more anxiety rather than more peace. You may wonder, What will people think of me? Won’t it make me feel worse about myself? Contrary to what you may think, such a practice can be a tremendous step toward healing and a real stress reliever. Let me illustrate.
In his book Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey tells the story of hearing author Keith Miller talk about his struggle to face the weakness and sin in his life. Determined to do so, he hit upon a plan, deciding to contact a Catholic priest who lived five hundred miles away in order to ask if he would hear his confession. It must have sounded like an odd request, coming as it did from a Protestant, but the priest agreed. As Miller prepared to meet with the priest, he made a list of everyone he had wronged and every character flaw and defect he could think of. When it came time to confess, he looked down at his list and read them to the priest out loud. Fearing to look up, he then held his head in his hands, awaiting a response. But as Yancey recounts, there was only silence. “Miller,” he says, “kept expecting the blow to fall. Nothing. When he forced himself to raise his head, he saw that the priest was crying. ‘My God, Keith,’ he said, ‘that’s my list too.’ A path opened toward healing.”1
Perhaps in that moment, both men received healing, experiencing God’s gracious presence as they spoke together honestly, openly, and with faith. Ask God today to show you whom you can confide in, and then make the request. Examine your conscience with the help of God’s Spirit, and then do what James instructs: confess your sins and pray so that you may be healed.
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- Philip Yancey, Rumors of Another World: What on Earth Are We Missing? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 150.