ANSWER: James 5:16 tells us to, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Let’s divide this verse and look at it in three different sections: confessing our faults to each other, praying for each other, and the great benefit of earnest prayer.
To confess our faults to one another is speaking of acknowledging personal offenses we have committed against others. We confess our sins to the Lord as we read in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We also need to confess personal offenses to the Lord, and then confess them to the ones we have offended. We have an example of this in Matthew 5:23-24 which says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” This illustrates the seriousness of personal offenses. Before one could offer a sacrifice to the Lord, he must first be reconciled to a brother that he has offended. While we no longer offer animal sacrifices to the Lord, according to Hebrews 13:15-16 we can, “…offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The Lord wants us to confess our faults to anyone we have offended and then bring our gifts of praise, thanksgiving, our labors and giving to Him.
Next, we are encouraged to pray for one another. How often we neglect this very important tool that the Lord has given us. He tells us to pray for one another. He desires to have our hearts concerned with both the physical and spiritual well-being of others. He promises healing for our prayers. However, it is important that we realize that the Lord’s will is always perfect and sometimes His will is not to immediately heal. It may be that the Lord has a lesson for us to learn through sufferings. It may be that the Lord’s desire is to take that suffering saint home to be with Himself. We learn in 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” What a blessed safety guard we have. The Lord, according to His perfect will, knowledge, and love will answer our prayers accordingly.
Then we are assured of the value of prayer. As we read earlier, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Who is righteous? All those who have put their faith in the Lord Yahushua Mashiach / Christ as their savior. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” However, although we have been made righteous, we need to maintain a proper relationship with the Lord and live righteously. Even as believers, our prayers can be hindered by the tolerance of sin in our lives. King David said in Psalms 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” To pray fervently means that we are serious with the Lord in our prayers. It’s just not enough to casually mention someone’s name to the Lord, the Lord wants us to have great concern for others in our prayers. We read of such a prayer warrior in Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Epaphras labored greatly in his prayers for others. We also should take our prayers so seriously.
So, to recap what we have in this important verse. The Lord wants us to confess our personal offenses, not some priest or clergyman, but to each other. He wants us to pray for one another, and then assures us there is value when we labor fervently in prayer for each other.