Elders And The Anointing
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”–James 5:13-14
No one enjoys being sick (unless you are a hypochondriac,) but sickness is something everyone will eventually face. For some, it might be something as simple as a mild headache while others may battle a lifelong illness. It is easy to look at your situation and question why God has allowed you to face something debilitating, when others can take an aspirin and are fine. Why would God allow cancer to take hold in a believer’s body while a murderer might only need glasses? (A silly comparison, I know, but you get the point.) It all comes down to grace. God has healing waiting for the believers. It comes from prayer and the anointing with oil by the church elders.
When calling upon the elders or others for prayer, compassion is important. In Numbers 12, Moses’ brother and sister—Aaron and Miriam—were not happy with him because he married an Ethiopian woman. God called the three siblings to the tabernacle of meeting and, appearing in the pillar of cloud, spoke to them. After telling them how important Moses was to Him, God’s anger was aroused and He cursed Miriam with leprosy. Verse 13 tells us this. “So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” Despite what she and Aaron had said, Moses was compassionate and wanted to see his sister healed. This is why we are required to humble ourselves down and pray for each other.
It is a wonderful thing to know people love you enough to pray for your healing, but we mustn’t neglect praying for ourself. Jeremiah 17:14 gives us an example of one of the prophet’s prayers. “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise.” When we ask God for healing, we must take into account the condition of our soul. It is more important to ask God to heal our sinful soul than our sick body.
But what about the times we ask for healing but it doesn’t come? Too often, people are quick to blame God, even calling into question His power. Sometimes, God’s healing is waiting for us once we leave this life. Sickness was “born” the moment Adam and Eve sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. At that moment, the tree of life was cut off from mankind. It is waiting for us in Heaven, as Revelation 22:2 tells us. “In the middle of the street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
Whether God gives us the healing we ask for or not isn’t what really matters. Sure, we want to be healed, we pray to be healed, it is our fervent hope that God heals us, but what if we aren’t? We must remember the one thing He has promised never to withhold from His people: grace. Even Paul, in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, had to be reminded of this. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Sometimes, our witness of God’s grace in our lives has a bigger impact on people than our miraculous healing.
Even if God withholds healing, we should never quit praying for those who are sick or injured. Several times, we have called upon you to pray for someone who was sick, and thanks to your prayers, we have seen God’s healing touch. Sweet little Mackenzee comes to mind. Her progress has happened so much faster than what the doctors dared to expect. This one instance alone is enough to keep me on my knees asking God to heal whoever needs healing. Even if the answer is “no”, we can still find faith in the asking.