Part VIII of our series on Healing and Comforting
There’s a wrong way to read some Bible verses. And, unfortunately, when it comes to experiencing God’s power at work in our lives, we’re prone to do so (of course, we have plenty of help from preachers of health, wealth, and prosperity). We identified one way to read a verse in Monday’s post, by noting that James 5:16 does not mean “you are sick because you sinned.” That’s the wrong way to read that verse.
Here’s the right way to read that verse—and do this word: “The trio of illness, death, and sin are joined at the root. None of these were ever meant to be hosted in the human frame. God’s healing focuses on all three, penetrating spirit, soul, and body. Confessing our sins to one another—and then praying for each other about what has been confessed—isn’t a prerequisite for healing or preparation for healing. It is healing.”
That’s why James admonishes believers to devote significant time to confessing our sins to each other and sharing the assurance of forgiveness from Scripture. It’s not just preparation to take communion; it’s the Work of Mercy of healing…in every service!
John Wesley’s “band meetings” were designed to help others confess to one another, and as a result be healed. Here are the five questions he came up with to ask each other each time we gather together–questions that are built around the confession of sin. The expectation? That as we do this word from James together we’ll experience that form of biblical healing known as holiness:
- What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
- What temptations have you met with?
- How were you delivered?
- What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
- Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
Wesley experimented with administering these questions in lots of different ways, so we can do the same. In an effort provide a bit more direction to my readers, I’ve come up with three options which I encourage you to try for a week at a time:
In the context of a small group (formal or not) elect one person per meeting to answer the five questions. Then have the group pray for the person in light of what has been confessed.
Invite each person present to select and answer the one question of the five that is most relevant to them in light of what God is doing or showing or revealing or convicting them of in their life at present. After each person shares, let each person pray for another person in light of what has been confessed.
Work through the questions over five days of meetings (on, say, a retreat or during a daily journal group meeting). On the first day, ask the first question and have each person answer. Then after each person has answered, let each person pray for another person in light of what has been confessed.
As you do these things, seek to incorporate into your prayers the great assurances of forgiveness found in Scripture, like this one from 1 John 1:8-9:
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
That’s good news, indeed!