Thursday, July 25, 2013

Confession and Prayer

As I start to share my story more, I realize how valuable relationships with other believers are to me. Not just "chit chat" but real, honest, transparent conversation. I have seen God work in amazing ways during recent conversations I've had with others. It has encouraged me deeply.

Honestly, some days I wonder how "transparent" should I be about my past. It's so counter-culture to be gut honest about the "sins of our past," isn't it? Even among Christians and churches you don't often hear people's confession of sin and how God pulled them out of a mess and into His life. Some churches do a great job at this and you see lots of growth and healing occur. Others who avoid such difficult issues usually die a slow death or become stagnant.

When I first got to New Albany, I felt a strong need to tell lots of people so I could get it off my chest. I felt like I was lying if I didn't tell them. Probably because it had been so public in Clinton. Maybe because I wanted them to know so they could decide if they wanted to be friends with me or not. Seems crazy looking back, but I guess it was still early in our recovery and we were in a new place. Lots of anxiety, uncertainty and healing left to go.

I don't feel quite so anxious about telling everyone I see. I do, however, want to share my story as I feel the Holy Spirit leads me to, and when I believe it will encourage the other person. Also, I feel a need to share it with the pastors I am meeting with about my counseling services. I want them to know up front what I have been doing for the past two years and about my past. That way, they can make a more informed decision about whether or not to refer their church members to me.

I have also been reminded that many people are struggling, but are doing so secretly. It is hard to suffer, but it is harder to suffer ALONE. I am amazed by some of the things people have experienced and been through. It is comforting in many ways to hear people's testimony and see what God has done in their life. It is also sad what some have been through and feel so ashamed by; afraid to tell others for fear of how they will respond.

Confession and prayer have become big components to my recovery. I didn't do it well at all prior to the "fallout" of 2011. I have learned that confession is healing but isn't easy. Confession is risky, difficult, counter culture, BUT it leads to healing and freedom. So why don't more of us do as James 5:13-20 says and confess our sins? I guess because we focus more on the risky and difficult parts of confession rather than on the freedom and healing parts.  Look at what James 5 says:

James 5:13-20 The Message (MSG) -Prayer to Be Reckoned With

13-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.
Look at what verse 16 says about confession, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other SO THAT YOU CAN LIVE TOGETHER WHOLE AND HEALED." That's a huge benefit to living a life of confession and openness with other growing believers. Yes, confession is risky and you don't know what the outcome will be or what consequences may occur. Yes, it is painful, difficult and not the "norm" in our culture. BUT, it leads to healing and freedom, wholeness and truth, and is obeying what God calls us to do.

First confess to Christ, and then in relationship with other believers, confess to them. Not everyone is trustworthy with your "secrets" so pray for wisdom about who to share with and when, but at the end of the day, you have to trust God with the outcome and results. We are made for relationships. Sin thrives in darkness and secrecy. Don't suffer alone. Let others walk with you. 

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