Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed... (James 5:16a)
Does this verse teach that we should open a confessional and have a man of the cloth listen to us confess, so he could tell us to go do some penance for it? No- what the Lord is teaching through James, the half-brother of Jesus the Christ, is accountability. We are a fallen people whose tendency to 'miss the mark' increases in frequency and intensity, the further we move from those who are appointed to watch out for us.
For the most part, accountability is not primarily the function of the pastoral, but the call of the Godly and moral. The word confess here means to not just repent before God, but to agree out and out that one has fallen short, did something wrong or untoward, and having acknowledged that sin or trespass on turf where one should not be, one has the privilege and opportunity to be allowed to give praise. Now this is not the convoluted thinking of the world and pop psychology!
Secular psychology will tell you that this 'confession of sins' simply means you have "issues or problems"....and thus, "set up another therapy session" and a temporal answer from man's thinking will evoke responses totally against the Word of God. What we are searching here for is Godly responses and reactions to minor and/or major sin, which is still viewed as sin before God. What Abba Father, our loving Father Who wants the best for us is saying here- "you sure messed up here on this one, son/daughter...but after you ask Me for forgiveness, go to Susie or Jack over there and apologize, make it right or pay for that window you broke when the rock flew off your lawn mower last week and you kept quiet about it."
In the case of small groups, women are better about discussing their shortcomings with other women and seeking answers, biblical or otherwise, if they are walking with the Lord. But for some reason, men's mouths are shut tighter than the vault door at Fort Knox as to their transgressions. The answer is to have a mentor, an accountability brother or band of brothers with whom a man studies the Word of God with on a regular basis. The vast majority of men are not in such a fellowship and are therefore, sitting ducks for the enemy, when they slip up and fall short. Those who are not walking with the Lord have their drinking buddies, golf buddies, baseball buddies or even their former military buddies....and some of them would even share their troubles with each other. In fact, some of these lost men (and women) are better about supporting their fellow brother or sister than most Christians, who come of as self-righteous hypocrites to just about every body else.
So, how do we get around and over these obstacles - hypocritical and otherwise? We are strongly encouraged to pray here for those of us, who have sinned against someone else in particular, and against God in general, because it really affects our spiritual lives. To be free of this burden of sin, we must realize that the Power in the Blood requires the following two-step: take it to Calvary's Cross and then pray before taking it to the person you and I have crossed!
The portion of verse 16 we look at here is the Scriptural version of this aforementioned two-step. We are not supposed to be like the world and dance around sin, tripping the light fantastic with the devil and his music. Our music flows sweeter when the admission of our shortcomings are prayed up to God and then 'fessed up to each other, that reconciliation and restoration can take place.
There is no healing without prayer. There is no revealing of sweet fellowship with God and man without removing barriers through prayer. There is no relationship, vertical or horizontal, without kneeling before the Throne - in prayer. Selah...Prayer is the key that opens the door to loving relationships between you and I and the rest of the Children of God.