Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
— James 5:16
Since becoming a Christian when I was 14, I have been in a number of important Christian communities, including confirmation and youth groups, various adult Sunday School classes that grew very close, and informal groups of friends who pray for each other (with requests often simply shot out in text messages!). I hope that you have been in groups like these, too.
One of the most unique Christian communities I have ever been part of, though, was a study of Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, which I led at my church one fall semester. It is a pretty deep book, and the group that wanted to study it with me was small. In the first session, we set up rules for how we would conduct ourselves. Most of the rules were pretty standard: come to every class that you can; try to do the reading and homework; what is said here stays here; and participate, no matter what. I threw in one more rule because it was my class, and I could do what I wanted — and I wanted this group to be intimate. I told everyone they could only share prayer requests for themselves. No prayers for Aunt Suzie’s bunions. The results shocked me. Despite the 13 weeks of intense content, every member stayed. Every member participated, and we shared a lot of real stuff. We prayed for each other’s deepest concerns, we confessed sins and fears, and we really made a difference in each other’s lives. We were healed by the Lord and the loving concern of these new friends. I think every member of that group would say it had a lasting impact. At first, it felt scary for some; by the end, it was freeing for all.
Do you have close Christian community? If not, please consider joining a c|Life Community Group (or CG for short). Whatever groups you are part of, won’t you take the risk of expressing a personal prayer request? You will set the tone that will give others courage to confess and be healed. It isn’t selfish, it’s Christian community as it was meant to be.