Unspoken Prayer Request – Do Protestants Need Confession?
James 5:16 tells us to confess our faults to one another and pray for one another so that we may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much. So why then do we make unspoken prayer requests and is it Biblical? If we consider this verse carefully we will see that avails much basically means to get results. The Arabic word for avails means to bring forth or profit. So if we want to get results for our prayers what do we need to do? What kind of prayer should we pray?
If you look at the verse again, you’ll see that an effectual fervent prayer is the kind that brings results. So what makes a prayer an effectual fervent one? To be effectual means to work with efficiency or purpose. Fervent means with passion. So basically we are to pray specifically about certain persons or things. How else could we pray with purpose and passion? If we don’t know or understand the needs of one another, such as in an unspoken prayer request, we can’t pray with purpose or passion.
If we look at the first part of that verse again, it clearly tells us that we are to confess or tell our faults (sins or problems) to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed or have our prayer answered. Most Protestants have rejected the idea of confession simply because of the traditional Catholic idea of confession. Though this practice has long been neglected by most of the Protestant faiths, it is still needed to some degree in the church.
In the practice of confession, we do need to be careful at times who we confess to, but we still need to confess to someone besides just to God. We should always confess to God, but as the Word says, to one another as well. We should choose a person or group who is dedicated and mature in Christ, or possibly a pastor or Christian counselor if you’re not comfortable confessing to just another lay person.
Revelation 12: 11 says “and they overcame Satan by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” This passage of Scripture teaches us that we are to be open and real with one another in order to overcome the traps of Satan. Satan is never happier than when we keep our mouths shut and don’t tell others of our troubles or ask anyone to pray with us over a matter. Chonda Pierce’s new DVD “This ain’t Prettyville” is a wonderful example of how we can share ourselves with each other and grow together as Christians.
II Corinthians 1: 3-4 tells us that we are to comfort others who are in any trouble by the comfort we’ve received from God. So in essence, when we go through something in our own lives, we are to confess it to other Christians who may be helped by our testimony. If someone knows you’ve gone through something they are going through right now, they are more likely to seek help and understanding from you. On the other hand, if we hide ourselves in shame, as Adam and Eve did in the garden, both from God and from each other, then neither we are helped by others prayers for us, nor are others helped by our testimony and prayers.
Unspoken prayer requests are the results of our shame condemning us and our lack of trust for both God and others in the family of Christ. None of us are perfect. We all have faults. All those who surround you in church that you think don’t have any real problems are likely the ones with the most problems. They just hide it better. We will likely go on in our troubles until we learn to confess to one another and pray specifically for one another. I personally believe that unspoken prayer requests are unbiblical, though there may be times when we feel it necessary. I do believe we should check ourselves if we make this a pattern.