Prayer Accountability in a Christian Home
Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Accountability
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I am deeply committed to all of us living a life of radical integrity and grace.
Through People of the Second Chance, I get to work with leaders on personal sustainability and living a life with no regrets. And though I champion the ideas of transparency, authenticity and brutal honesty, I don’t believe in Christian accountability.
The whole concept makes me cringe, and I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment. It’s horribly broken, ineffective and doing a lot of people a disservice. In many ways, Christian accountability is facilitating a pathway to our lives being chopped up by character assassins.
So here are a few reasons why I don’t believe in Christian accountability and why a new discussion needs to happen around maintaining our integrity.
1. Lack of Grace
The primary reason Christian accountability doesn’t work is because we are more interested in justice and fixing a problem. I’ve seen too many times great men and women get chewed up by this process. When we fail, what we need most is grace and a second chance, not a lecture.
We have all probably experienced or seen a harsh response to our struggles or failures. But there is a big problem when we respond with justice and not grace. You see, human beings are wired up for self-protection and survival.
When we see others being hurt, rejected or punished for their sin, we correctly conclude that it is better to hide, conceal and fake it in the future. It basically comes down to this: I don’t want to get hurt, so I’m not telling.
When we lack grace, accountability breaks down.
2. Bad Environments
Let me be frank. If I were having an illicit affair with a woman, I’m not going to confess it to four guys at a Denny’s breakfast. And yet, too often, Christian accountability is carried out in these types of environments.
We meet in small groups in a weekly environment with a few of our friends. Ultimately, there is a lid on how transparent these conversations can be, and too often, we believe that if we are meeting weekly then we are “accountable.
My best conversations about my brokenness and struggles have come in non-typical environments. Places where I am completely relaxed, at ease, and feel removed from my daily life.I have seen leaders every year go away for a week and meet with a coach or therapist and have this time be very effective. They dump a ton of junk, begin working strategies in their life and start dealing with significant character issues. To be frank, I would rather have us have one week of brutal honesty than 52 weeks of semi-honesty at Denny’s.
My point is simple. Find an environment that is going to allow you to open up and examine your current process.
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I truly believe it is time to reinvent and rethink this very important component of our lives. Over the years, Christian accountability has deformed into a very ugly, uninspiring and broken system.
First off, I want to change the word from “accountability” to “advocacy.” If we are going to redefine a process and introduce a new concept, I think it needs a new word. The word I use in this context with fellow friends and leaders is advocacy. The term can be described as active support, intercession, or pleading and arguing in favor of someone.
So let’s take a look at what advocacy means.
Radical Grace Is the Foundation
Radical grace is the core engine for any healthy relationship. You can not have true transparency or confession without it. I encourage people to make verbal commitments to each other and clearly state that they will stand by one another through the best AND the worst.
Most people live with the fear of rejection and allow this fear to dictate how honest they will be with others. In advocacy, we are constantly demonstrating that this relationship is a safe place. Through our response to one another’s failures, our own deep confession and reminding each other that we are in this for the long haul, we implement radical grace.
Advocacy focuses on the “yes,” not the “no.” Too often, typical Christian accountability revolves around long lists of what NOT to do. We spend way too much time discussing and managing the sin.
Often, we lock onto the most minor unhealthy behaviors and think that’s going to prepare us for success in life.
Unfortunately, we operate on the faulty assumption that working on the symptoms will address the core problem. Bad idea!!!
Advocacy spurs us on to the “yes.” It revolves around the crazy good things that we should be engaging in. It pushes us to live a life of positive risks, creativity, adventure and significance. We rally around each other in this and focus our relationships around this theme.I truly believe a large amount of moral blowouts flow from boredom and dissatisfaction. We become depressed and unsatisfied with our life, career and marriage, and then we enter into dangerous territory. Why? Because we are not focusing on the “Yes!”
I know that in my own life, I become vulnerable when I have lost a sense of mission and purpose. Having an advocate in our life is important in reminding us of our calling.
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Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. If Christian accountability were a company, it would need a serious bailout. It’s simply inadequate, and the results are sub par, at best.
The breaking down of our marriages, financial impropriety, egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior, sexual misconduct, and the bending of every rule we come across are simply signs of a failed system. Last week, I read a post from a pastor who had received emails from 33 other pastors who confessed to him of being involved in an affair.
If I wanted to, I could spend the next decade of my life convincing you how wonderful I am and how I have it all together. (Luckily, I have no desire to do that.) It bothers me that I’m clever enough to package Mike Foster in such a way that I could make you all believe what a swell guy I am and how I have it all together.
The problem with Christian accountability is that you and I can game the system. I know how to beat it, and if you stick around the church long enough, you will figure it out, too. And that’s a problem. We’re the alcoholic that knows where the hidden key to the liquor cabinet is.
Gaming the system is not hard. We know the right words. We know the right things to talk about. We know how to frame things up to effectively keep everyone off course on who we truly are. I can do it, and so can you. And that’s a big problem.
So that’s why I’m not a fan of Christian accountability and truly believe it is busted. But please don’t lose hope. I have something I want to offer up as a replacement to this flawed system of maintaining our integrity.
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When people fail or become involved in some scandal, too often we immediately consider the ramifications on the organization or company. I’ve talked to many Christians who are very concerned about when a pastor falls of how this impacts the cause of Christ.
Unfortunately, we place more concern on the damage to the brand of Christianity or the church instead of the fallen individual. I’ve seen horrific and hurtful things happen to people in the name of protecting the organization instead of the fallen person. Quite frankly, that sucks!!!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Christianity’s brand is failures and wrecked lives. Churches are places with messy people who do stupid things.I’ve certainly made my contribution to this effort with my mistakes. In advocacy, the importance is placed on the individual. It is about people, especially those who are most broken.
The organization, church or company should take a back seat.
Christian accountability often is accomplished in small groups that are too general or with just one person leading, which puts too much responsibility on one individual.
Advocacy embraces having multiple layers of transparency and connection. I have about 10 people who are involved in spurring me on to a life of integrity. They can actively speak into my life, and I will listen and make the necessary tweaks.
However, I have about four people whom I have a deeper connection with and discuss harder things with. I also have more structure with this group. This is what I consider to be the core.
But even beyond the core, I have one friend that has full access. We take complete responsibility for each others’ integrity, purity and sustainability. I refer to this person as my “first call.
” When the crap hits the fan, I call him first.
Each layer moves into a greater level of commitment and advocacy, and each layer has an important role.
Top 7 Bible Verses About Accountability
God will hold us all accountable on the Day of His Visitation so what Bible verses reflect a believer’s accountability? What ones would you include and what about those who reject the gospel?
What is Accountability?
The word accountability means to be held accountable, liable, answerable, or be held responsible for what a person has been given.
This is a combination of several secular definitions of this word and it should get every believers attention for we will all be held accountable before the Lord someday for our actions, for what we did with what we have been given, and for what we didn’t do that we should have done.
Even worse, for those who are not saved, they will be held accountable for the works in this life at the Great White Throne Judgment and since works can never save us, unbelievers will have to pay for their own sins in eternity (Rev 20:11-16) and because they will be “judged according to their works” (Rev 20:12) and no one can be saved by works (Eph 2:8-9) their eternal fate is even hard to imagine. For Christians, they have been judged already since they repented and trusted in Christ and had the imputation of His righteousness credited to their account (2 Cor 5:21). Even so, every believer will be held accountable at Christ’s appearing and so what does the Bible say about a believer’s accountability before the Lord?Paul is writing to Christians here and he just finished asking the Roman Christians, “why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom 14:10).
When we judge others we actually show them contempt in the way that they don’t live up to our standards, but their standard and ours is not a human standard but what Christ expects. We will all stand and give an account to Christ for what we have done or not done.
We will owe only Christ an explanation and we don’t owe any human an explanation for our life on this earth.
This verse should be a key verse for every believer because although we are not saved by works, we will be rewarded according to what we did for Jesus Christ while on the earth.
If our works were for our own glory and not for the glory of God then our “work is burned [and we] will suffer loss” even though “[we] will be saved, yet so as through fire” but if we do things for the glory of God alone then we are building our rewards with a foundation that has “gold, silver, precious stones” and our works will come through the fire.
If our good works are only for the purpose of being seen by others and not of Christ, then “wood, hay, straw” they will all be burned up and we will have little or nothing to show for our life while in the body.
Before Jesus spoke these words He gave the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) where each one of us is given talents. These include time, treasure, and talents (or gifts or skills). The Lord expects us to use these talents for His glory. If we do not use what we have been given, then what we do have will be taken from us (v.
28a) but if we have used what God has given us for His glory then more will be given to us at His return (v. 28b) so the question will be are we a “wicked and lazy servant” or will Jesus say to you and me “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.
Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt 25:23)? The answer is up to you and me.The last statistic I heard was that Christians give only about 2% of their income to the Lord and we spend 10 times as much in pet food than we do in giving to our local church for the proclamation of the gospel.
Does this say something about our priorities? Do we esteem the things of God more than those things that we esteem important to us? I understand that these are not verses about tithing but verses about who are we serving. If we are attempting to live for riches then we are making money our god.
Money competes with God in the sense that money can provide for our needs, it can give us what we want, and it gives us security but these things take the place of God because He provides for us, gives us what we need (not always what we want), and He is our security, not money. The “true riches” are in the things that bring glory to God.
If we can’t be faithful in a few things, our money, time, or talents, then how can God expect us to be faithful in the Kingdom of Heaven which will be far, far greater?
Here is what is called a sin of omission.
We all know what sins of commission are and that is why we can come to God and confess them to Him and be forgiven (1 John 1:9) but we are also going to be judged for what we don’t do.
If we see our brother has needs and do nothing about it but say “Brother, I am sorry…I will pray for you” but do nothing to help, then for those who know “to do good” and yet “does not do it” to them it is sin.
This verse actually applies to those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:18b-19) but they still refuse to acknowledge that there is a God because “they did not to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom 1:28).
Paul is saying that they knew better…in their hearts they knew that God exists but they suppressed this knowledge and so God gave them up “to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Rom 1:24-25).This speaks of judgment. The more often a person hears the gospel and yet rejects the gospel, the more accountable they will be held because they knew what was required of them and yet refused to do it.
For the one who didn’t know as much about the gospel, the native in the deep, dark recesses of the jungle, they will not have as much required of them. In the U.S.
there is no excuse for those who have not responded to the gospel for they have easy access to it and may have heard the truth of the Word of God expressed many times but have never responded to it. In that case, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” and more will be demanded.
I beg you to not turn your back on Christ today for He is the only way a person can be saved (Acts 4:12). The day is coming when it will be too late (Rev 20:11-15; Heb 9:27) so decide today to repent and put your trust in the Savior so that you will be saved today (2 Cor 6:2) if you are not already saved.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas.
Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon
What Is A Prayer Of Supplication? A Christian Study
People pray in many different ways. Some are very formal and will present their prayers in such a way that they look and sound they are petitioning the Queen of England to intervene in their private affairs.
Others pray the same prayer over and over again until it becomes nothing but words rolling off their tongue. Still others, pray in such a way that their prayers sound they’re talking to a friend. However, there is one thing about prayer that everyone should keep in mind. That is praying with supplication.
With this in mind, we will do a short Christian study from the Bible to learn what is a prayer of supplication?
What is the common definition of the word supplication?
Supplication is commonly defined as (1): “The action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” It was most commonly used before the year 1600 as well as the early 1800s (2).
Today it is not commonly used, but those that use the King James Bible are familiar with the term. Historically, the word supplication comes from a Latin term, supplicare, which means to plead humbly and has the word supple as its root (3).
The fact that the word supplication has the word supple at its root provides great insight for us in understanding a prayer of supplication.
How does the Bible define the word supplication?
The word supplication is used in the Old Testament several different ways. Each Hebrew word communicates the idea of humbling one’s self to another, often in the case of prayer.
In the New Testament, supplication is tied to prayer (Acts 1:14; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6). From the perspective of God, His response to our sincere supplication is with mercy and grace.
In the case of man, our supplication goes deeper considering our position before God.
What is involved in praying with supplication?
In Philippians 4:6, we are told: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
” The phrase, “Be careful for nothing,” literally means to be anxious for nothing. In other words, do not get anxious about anything.
Instead, in everything we are to submit our requests to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
Most people understand praying and giving thanks. However, supplication communicates how we should pray. It is more than just submitting our requests to God, but instead, submitting them with the mindset that we should humble ourselves and become supple before God.
To put this in perspective, think about what it means when someone or something is supple. For example, if someone has supple skin, then their skin can be described as soft, pliable, healthy, and giving way under the pressure of touch.
If you were to squeeze someone’s arm that has supple skin, you would expect that their skin would give way to your touch much soft clay would give way when pressure is applied.
With this in mind, when we pray with supplication, we are not only humbly submitting our requests to God, we’re doing it with the mindset that we want God to make our minds supple.
This is so that He can mold our thinking, our opinions, and our emotions to be in line with His thinking, opinions, and emotions.David prayed such a prayer in Psalms 51 when he confessed his sin to God and prayed that God would forgive him, cleanse him, and create in him a clean heart and renew his spirit. David did not want God to change to meet his desires. He wanted God to change him to meet God’s desires.
Therefore, when we pray with supplication we are asking God to change us into the image of His Son and to mold us into what He wants us to be. When this happens, it helps us to grow closer to Christ and our desires become His desires.
When our desires become His desires, it changes our opinion of what we want God to do and what we believe is right. With this in mind, it gives us a deeper perspective on Psalms 37:4-5 where we are told: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Many people read this verse with the idea that if they draw close to God that God will give them what they desire. However, when we submit our prayers to God with supplication, He changes us and our desires change as well. Therefore, this verse teaches not that we will get what we want, but instead we will desire what God wants.
5 Reasons Why Christian Accountability Fails
The following is an excerpt from our free e-book, Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability.
In my previous article, I described the four key building blocks that give shape to our accountability relationships. These building blocks are James 5:16 and Hebrews 10:23-25: meeting together, confession of sin, prayer, and encouragement.
(This is structure of a healthy accountability relationship)
Accountability groups and partners are not magic pills. While accountability plays a crucial role in personal growth and holiness, there are many accountability pitfalls.
Here are five ways accountability often goes bad.
Problem #1: When Accountability Partners Are Absent
Accountability relationships need to be fostered through time together. It is hard to hold one another accountable when partners meet infrequently or sporadically (or not at all).
Often both parties are at fault. We might commit to “holding one another accountable,” but this is something vague, elusive, and undefined. Accountability partners need to have a very clear picture in their minds about what accountability really entails: face-to- face, voice-to-voice conversation.
When accountability partners do not meet in some fashion, the accountability relationship has no foundation. This means confession, prayer, and encouragement are erratic and shaky, at best.
Problem #2: When Accountability Groups Are Programmatic
When we read through the one-anothers of the New Testament, one cannot help but see the organic, family dynamic that is meant to exist in the church.
We are called to an earnest love for one another (1 Peter 1:22), brotherly affection (Romans 12:10), single-minded unity (Romans 15:5), eating together (1 Corinthians 11:33), bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and having the same care for each other (1 Corinthians 12:25).
But often our approach to accountability is programmatic. We simply don’t have the quality of friendships that are close and spiritually meaningful, so we search for it in forced and sometimes awkward settings.
The church, of course, should offer support groups and discipleship models. “Program” is not a four-letter word. But these programs should aim toward something rich and natural.
If meeting together, prayer, confession, and encouragement are the building blocks of accountability, then many of the other one-anothers in the New Testament are the “atmosphere” of the relationship. This should not be an empty, austere structure, but filled with the air of Christian love and friendship. You may be “doing everything right” but it still feels empty and cold.
Problem #3: When Accountability Partners Are Sincerity-Centered
Confession is the central pillar of accountability, but there are a few ways this pillar can be constructed poorly.
The first way confession of sin can go wrong is when it becomes an end in and of itself. This is when we believe confession is the only point of accountability, something we do to put to rest our uneasy consciences and get something off our chests. These kinds of accountability relationships make “getting the secret out” the whole point.
As therapeutic as this might feel—and it is therapeutic—we need to be careful that in our confession of sin we don’t trivialize sin as something that resolves itself with mere sincerity.Jonathan Dodson, pastor of Austin City Life church, says that one surefire way to ruin your accountability relationship is by making it “a circle of cheap confession by which you obtain cheap peace for your troubled conscience.”
Christians do not believe that pardon from sin comes from merely being honest about sin. Your sincerity wasn’t nailed to a Roman cross for your sins; Christ was. Peace with God comes only by leaning on what Christ has done for us (Romans 5:1). We often mistake the relief of unleashing our secrets with true peace.
Conversation must not stop at confession. The outermost pillars of the accountability relationship call us to prayer and encouragement. After humble confession, we should encourage one another with the assurance of forgiveness promised in the gospel, and we should approach God’s throne of grace in prayer together.
In this way we not only hold one another accountable for our behavior, but we also hold one another accountable for trusting in the gospel for our complete forgiveness.
Problem #4: When Accountability Partners Are Obedience-Centered
The first way the pillar of confession can be built poorly is when we aim at cheap peace. The second way the pillar of confession can be constructed poorly is when the focus is on moral performance.
Some Christian accountability groups are militant about sin—a healthy attitude in its own right. Members want to see others grow in holiness, so this becomes the focus of the group: questions and answers that deal with obedience.
The problem is, mere rule keeping does not itself get to the heart of sin. This is one of the great lessons Paul teaches again and again. Merely knowing the law only aggravates our lusts (Romans 7:7-12), and following rigid ascetic regulations—don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle—is “of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23).
What we need is a kind of accountability that corrects our natural tendency to focus on ourselves—own own performance or lack of performance—and instead focus on Christ and His obedience in our place.
Don’t turn the pillar of confession into a pedestal—a place where we can prop up the idol of our own obedience. Don’t turn accountability into a narcissistic program of self-improvement.
Accountability relationships this either center our thoughts on a few benchmarks of success that we might happen to be reaching, or force us into hiding because we don’t want to admit how much we are failing to hit the mark.
Problem #5: When Accountability Partners Forget the Gospel
Whether you slide toward being sincerity-centered or obedience-centered, both tendencies have ignored that the gospel is the capstone of accountability.
When we make our groups all about sincere confession with no expectation of change, we trivialize the very sins that were nailed to Jesus on the cross.
When we confess the same sins week after week, say a quick prayer, and go home, we merely highlight the cheap peace we feel from refreshing honesty, and we forget to comfort each other with a testimony of God’s grace of forgiveness.
We forget to challenge each other to fight sin in light of the motivations God provides in His Word.
When we make our groups all about obedience, we only reinforce our tendency to center our identity on our performance. This either drives us to rigid moralism or hiding the evil that lurks in us from others and ourselves.
Either way, these kinds of accountability relationships only reinforce legalism and self-absorption.This robs us of the joy of building our identity on Christ’s obedience, and we lose an opportunity to speak about the grace of God that trains us to be godly.
This is why the gospel is the capstone of good accountability. Our confessions, prayers, and encouragement should all be done under the canopy of what the gospel promises God’s children.
- Confess your sins in light of the gospel. One aspect of repentance is agreeing with what God says about your sin, labeling your sin as truly sinful, as an affront to His holiness, something that cost Christ his life. Confess your sins to God and others knowing He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).
- Pray together in light of the gospel. The gospel promises both grace to cover our sins (Romans 5:1-2) and grace to empower our obedience (Titus 2:11-14). Approach Christ together asking for this grace (Hebrews 4:16).
- Encourage one another in light of the gospel. Knowing that true internal change happens in our lives as we set our minds and affections on things above—the complete redemption that is coming to us (Colossians 3:1-4)—we should help one another do this. Mining the Scriptures together, we can teach and admonish one another in wisdom (v.16). We can strive together to have more of a foretaste of the holiness we are promised in the age to come.
We need responsive, gospel-driven accountability. As good accountability partners, we need to not only hear an account of our friends’ sins, but give an account of God’s grace—a grace that not only saves us from the guilt of sin, but also from the grip of sin.
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