Verse 16b The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
We have been discussing the need to confess our sins to others and James points out a clear reason for that in today’s key verse.
This portion of this verse is quoted often among believers. The clear point being that God listens to prayers being offered to Him from a clear conscience and obedient heart. But James has a deeper meaning than this simple surface meaning. He has been leading us down the path of what it takes to be a righteous person of prayer. He has pointed out so far that God wants to hear from us if we are in trouble, are happy, sick and even confessing our sin to Him and each other. This half of the verse is not separate from the rest of the verse. James was reminding his readers that confessing our sins to one another is a necessary part of the journey to righteous living.
When our sins are kept a secret, it is easier to pretend that they aren’t affecting us as negatively as they are. We are also more apt to ignore the symptoms of those sins in our life. We will going on living in those sins doing our best to hide them from others. We may even become so comfortable with them in private that we stop feeling guilty about them unless someone else notices.
James is trying to help his readers remember that Jesus was a holy man. He never sinned, even in private and He desires His followers to live as He did. James knew firsthand that it is impossible to live a perfect life. James may have desired to be more like Jesus than we can even begin understanding due to his having seen His perfection from his earliest days. James knew that we are mere human beings and that no matter how hard we try, our own efforts will never be enough to make us righteous.
It was from this heart of understanding that James tells us that we need to confess our sins to God and each other. We can’t give full forgiveness for something done by someone else but we can help by holding each other accountable. Holding each other accountable helps us live into righteousness. Of course it isn’t that we can make ourselves righteous, only Christ’s sacrifice can do that, but we do have a responsibility to live as Christ would have us live and when we do, we can be sure that He is pleased and listening to our prayers. Just as we are more likely to do something for an obedient child, obedience brings us to a place of praying more in line with His wants and that will bring answers.
Making It Personal
Do you feel like God hears your prayers? Does the amount of answers you receive, reflect the depth of your relationship? What do you need to make right with God today?
Making It Personal Kids
If you are being naughty are mom and dad quick to give you what you ask for? Does Jesus want you to obey? Do you think that Jesus will listen more if you are obeying Him?
Father, we know that You desire us to be living in ways that reflect You. Help us want to live in obedience so that we can live in good communication with You. In Jesus’ name. amen.