James 5:16-18 Confess your faults one to anoth-er, and pray one for an-other, that ye may be healed. The effectual fer-vent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Confess your faults one to another: This is a difficult piece of advice to follow. We have all (at least in my antiquated generation!) heard the now out of date joke: “telegraph, telephone, tell-a-Christian!” Alas, the joke is out of date due to technological advances. However, although technology has advanced, there has been no concurrent improvement in our handling of sensitive information.
Confidentiality is a huge issue in our faith communities. We need to develop the trait of being able to maintain a confidence. Only then will we be in a position to help one another because the basis of confidence is trust. Whom do you trust? Is there anyone in whom you can confide and trust that the subject under discussion will remain a matter between you and your confidant? James is telling us to trust one another and to rely on one another. This is true fellowship. In revealing our inmost faults and in learning to love one another at that level we enter into the Agape love of the Father for his beloved son.
pray for one another: true agape love and fellowship leads naturally to prayer (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 1:3; 4:3).
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote:
“More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of; Wherefore let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep and goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."
that ye may be healed: this healing is in the context of revealing faults. The intent is to be healed from some besetting weakness which is interfering with one’s walk to the Kingdom. (See 1 Peter 2:24! Isaiah 53:5).
the effectual fervent prayer of a righteus man availeth much: the RSV renders this phrase: “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” James always returns to the word for a powerful example of what he means. Elijah was a man like us, serving God as best he could but subject to extreme bouts of depression due to the persistence of outside pressures on his faith. But look at the outcome of his prayer! Even in his darkest moments, Elijah never stopped praying. He prayed earnestly, with passion and honesty. Even when he felt most alone, he was heard by the Father and his needs were met. Never give up on prayer and never give up praying for each other!
I hope you have found this helpful.