Jump to Prayer FocusBible Passage for Meditation: James 5:13-18
Key Verse: “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.” James 5:16
I will never forget the time a few years ago when, as I was preparing to lead a prayer service for a large event, the Holy Spirit convicted me of some things in my life that I needed to make right with God. Overwhelmed with the recognition of sins that I had been pushing aside, I sank to my knees on the motel room floor that morning and cried out to God, “Oh Lord, how can I go before Your people today and lead them in a time of prayer and seeking after You, when these things in my life have not been as they should be?”
I cried and prayed for a few minutes, then resolved that I would ask one of my fellow teammates to lead the service, as I was obviously not worthy to do so. However, as I got up to call on my teammates for help, the Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart again.
“Melody, God is not looking for perfect vessels who have their life all together. He’s looking for yielded vessels; vessels that will humble themselves so that He can use them. You need to lead the prayer service, and you need to share with the congregation what I’ve convicted you of this morning. Be real about how you’ve failed! Remember, you come to God’s throne because you need Him to save you and help you get your life in order. If people wait to come until their life is all in order, they will never come. Share that with the people. Bring them with you to God’s throne as you seek to put away all sin and compromise.”
Immediately I began to protest. “No way! I can’t do this, Lord! What will everyone think if they see that I, a leader, have not been honoring You as I should in my life? How can I go before the people and share that I’m not worthy to stand before them and lead them in this time of prayer?”
Again I felt the impressions of the Holy Spirit upon my heart. “It’s not about your worthiness. It’s about Christ’s worthiness. But if He is to work, you must humble yourself.”
Oh, how I did not want to obey the Spirit’s promptings that morning! If I could have run away like Jonah, or locked myself up in my motel room, I would have. But with such heavy conviction of the Holy Spirit upon my heart, I knew what I must do.
Shaking and with tears in my eyes, I went before the congregation that morning and shared how the Lord had convicted me of an area in my life where I had not been living in complete obedience to Him. (It was in paying my tithes and offerings—funds had been short and I was several months behind, thus robbing God of what was His. See Malachi 3:8.) I told the congregation that since the Lord had brought this sin to my mind, knowing I hadn’t had a chance to make it right yet, I had not wanted to get up and lead the prayer service that morning.
The room, full of hundreds of people, was perfectly still as everyone listened.
Although it hurt my pride deeply, I continued sharing what the Lord had laid on my heart in this and other areas. Then I invited the congregation to come forward and join me in putting away our sins (confessing private sins privately and confessing corporately those sins we are all guilty of as a church).
That day there were many tears in the auditorium as we all asked God for forgiveness for those areas of compromise that we’d allowed to creep into our lives. It was a powerful prayer service, and the Holy Spirit truly came down on us all.
Afterward, multiple people told me how it was just what they needed to be convicted to make their own sins right. One man even told me that he had come with a crusty heart of skepticism and doubt, but seeing me honestly share my shortcomings and my need of the Savior that day had convicted him of his need, and he’d decided to give his heart to the Lord. “I’ve never seen people on the platform be real before like you were today, Melody,” he told me. “It always seems like such a show at religious events. But you showed me today that God is real, because I saw how He was convicting you and changing your life. Thank you,” he said with voice cracking, as he grabbed my neck.
James 5:16 says, “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.”
Of course, it wasn’t necessary that I share my failures publicly that day. (Making things right with God is what really mattered most.) But since the Holy Spirit convicted me to do so, I knew I had to obey. And Ellen White writes that sometimes we need to confess our sins publicly, not only for our own sake but also for the sake of those listening, as a witness and example. In my case, not only did I learn a lesson I will never forget, but it also served to lead others to put away compromises that they’d allowed in their own lives. And this is what we must do if we want the Holy Spirit to be poured out. The question is, who will be willing to lead the way in this journey? Will you humble your heart? Will you allow the Lord to use YOU?
Heart Prayer Challenge:
Dear Lord, it’s not easy to admit when I’ve done wrong, especially in front of others. It’s much easier to point out when others are wrong. But help me to recognize that being honest with You and with Your people is more important than carrying a respectable façade. I don’t want anything to stand between me and You, and I don’t want anything to prohibit the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our church, so please purify my heart today. Show me the way You would have me walk. And help me to humble myself before Your throne and before my brothers and sisters so that the world can see a living picture of Your grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.
To read more about what is and is not appropriate for Public Confession, click here!
[I have to share this one additional quote: “There is nothing that Satan fears so much as that the people of God shall clear the way by removing every hindrance, so that the Lord can pour out His Spirit upon a languishing church. . . . The latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Last Day Events, pp. 192, 193]