Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed…
Christianity brought with it a new phenomenon in the spiritual world, if such an expression be permitted, and that phenomenon was the sudden and extraordinary development of intercessory prayer. There was little of this in the old world among Jews or pagans. Prayer was individual; each man asked of God what he felt himself to be in great need of. If in sickness, he asked for health; if in poverty, he entreated for wealth. At the outside, he only prayed for near friends and relatives when in danger of death. The Jew, no doubt, had a nobler and fuller type of prayer, and he supplicated for Israel. His individuality was but an atom in the great bulk of his people, and he did pray God to deliver His people out of adversity, and to strengthen it against its oppressors. It is doubtful whether the heathen had any such practice of prayer for his race and nation. He offered to the genius the empire, but that was but a homage rendered to the jealous divinity who was supposed to watch over the welfare of Rome. The death of Christ, the proclamation of the kingdom, seems to have opened the eyes of all those who received the gospel to the common brotherhood of mankind. With a shock of surprise they saw that all mankind are members of one family, that all are linked together by common interests. This is an age of philanthropy, when there is a real desire to relieve all of their burdens which weigh unjustly, and to redress all wrongs, and where there is not such a real desire, one is simulated, and it becomes a sort of political and social clap-trap — simply because philanthropy is fashionable. But in this bustling, eager age, when we are all trying to rectify abuses and remedy ills, how much is done on the knees? How much of intercessory prayer goes on? We are, in too many cases, endeavouring to better the world without seeking God's help and God's guidance. We are not all able to do much to redress the wrongs done in this world; to relieve the darkness, to ease the burdens, to staunch the tears that are shed, because we have not all the means, or the ability, or the opportunities, but we can all pray, and by our prayers may effect far more than can they who, with means, ability, and opportunity go to work in a philanthropic spirit, but without Christian faith and devout prayer.
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.