Prayer and Healing
Definition of Prayer
Prayer is communication with God. It acknowledges a person’s love for God and his dependency on God. Prayer involves elements of Adoration, Confession, Thanksfulness/Gratitude, and Supplications/Petitions (ACTS).
Special Prayers for Sick, Etc.
I believe in total healing. I believe in calling for the elders to pray over the sick and anoint them with oil (James 5:14). Other scriptures that deal with anointing with oil include Exodus 30:25, 30; Ps 23:5; 92:10; and Mk 6:13. Also in Acts 5:15 we find “Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. So we see that here the shadow of Peter served as a kind of substitute for the anointing with oil (James 5:14), the laying on of hands (Mark 16:18; Acts 28:8), and the handkerchiefs or aprons (Acts 19:12). So we see there are different methods and mechanisms employed during healing. After all, it is God who heals not the preacher or patient or anything the human does except perhaps asks God in faith (James 5:15) and having faith in and trusting God’s love, grace, mercy, will, and timing.
The elders are to pray in the name of Jesus Christ trusting Jesus to heal the sick (Mark 6:13; James 5:13-16). Yet it is clear that not even the prayers of the elders will necessarily heal every person. Indeed there is a sickness unto death for all persons. Yet, every sickness is not unto death as exemplified by Jesus healing of Lazarus by raising him from the dead (John 11:4). Also, God can change his mind as he did for Hezekiah (Isaiah 38) after the Hezekiah prayer. Yet, even Lazarus and Hezekiah eventually died. Even Methuselah who lived for 969 years eventually died (Genesis 5:27). Other scriptures that support eventual death include Psalms 90:10 (it is soon cut off and we fly away), Romans 6:23 (wages of sin is death), Hebrews 9:27 (appointed unto man once to die) and James 4:14 (life is but a vapor).
Now concerning the oil in James 5:14, the oil used could be any oil or substance believed to have medicine properties (Isaiah 1: 6; 38:21; Luke 10:34; I Timothy 5:23) or any oil. Indeed, the specific type of oil is not specified and there are many types of oil indicated in the Old and New Testament. The key is that one understands it is not the medicine (Hosea 5:13; Jeremiah 30:13; 46:11; Mark 5:24-34) or other oil that actually heals. Indeed, in the final analysis it is God that heals (Numbers 12:10-15; Psalms 103:3; Jeremiah 30:17; 33:6; James 5:15). We should appreciate the elders and/or medical personnel and others for being willing instruments of God; but, we should honor and credit God first and foremost for all healing.
James 5:14 doesn’t mean persons should not first seek ambulances and other medical personnel, and medicine (Prov. 17:22 [says medicine is good]; Isaiah 38:21; Jer. 8:22; 30:13; 46:11; Matt. 8:8; 9:12; Mark 5:34; Luke 8:50; 9:11; 10:34; John 5:1-4; 9:6-7; Col. 4:14; I Tim. 5:23) God uses, especially under emergency conditions; it means do not fail to call the elders for prayer as the situation calls for. God can get glory through medicine and medical personnel; indeed many hospitals/doctors see their profession as an extension of the church’s healing ministry. The Bible speaks of persons being sick in need of healing. Prayer/asking for healing presupposes recognized sickness.
There is no reason to question Timothy’s or Paul’s faith, yet Paul tells him to Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities (I Tim. 5:23). He did not tell Timothy to drink to excess or get drunk. Wine is used here for its medicinal value; indeed, wine does not grow naturally but is man-made like other things with medicinal value such as some drugs. Yet, neither wine nor general drugs are to be abused. Healthy eating is to be practiced; love those who love you enough to want you around by being wise and discipline enough to avoid substances that the medical community generally deem harmful to the body.
Faith does not say pretend we are not sick; it says do not focus your speech on your illness negatively but rather positively with faith (Prov. 18:21; Matt. 17:14-21; Phil. 2:25-30) recognizing that God can and will heal in his due time by the means he chooses, sometimes miraculous, sometimes medicinal, and sometimes in Heaven. So if a tooth needs to be pulled consider calling the dentist, etc. Get you some glasses for sick/ill eyes! Sickness or disability is not always due to sin as in the case of the man blind from birth (John 9:1-3). Remember the scriptures that speak about God’s willing and power to heal.
For example the scripture says: And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:30-31)
I believe that healing sometimes takes place without any other participation of humans. I also believe that healing sometimes takes place through the Lord’s use of medical personnel. I believe God sometimes heals through the prayers of the elders as James tells us as well as prayers of the righteous in general as God sees fit. I believe that those who are sick have a role to play in their healing by having faith, and by doing that which is right concerning their health. Yet, I also believe that sometimes the Lord chooses to allow death for his purposes and because of his love for all concerned. Moreover, sometimes healing does not come immediately if at all but according to God’s timing; Paul speaks of leaving someone sick (II Timothy 4:20).
One should also note that Acts speaks of Paul healing a man by praying for him and laying hands on him but there if no mention of the use of oil (Acts 28:1-10). This suggests that oil may not be necessary but useful when available. Of course, it could also be that Acts 28:8 assumes everyone knows some form of oil is normally used. In the final analysis, in keeping with the general principle that scripture completes scripture when speaking on the same subject, oil should be used when available but certainly it is not necessary since it is God that heals and not the oil or medicine.
For Isaiah in speaking of Jesus says: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5-6, 10; I Peter 2:21-25). Well, we must keep in mind that this has principally to do with spiritual healing rather than physical healing. However, through Jesus all physical ailments will cease once we arrive in Heaven even if they do not cease while we are here on earth.
And Peter says: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
And Matthew says in Matthew 9:2-6: 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy [paralysis with tremors], lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
The key is we should pray a prayer of faith for ourselves and others using various biblical methods and mechanisms, e.g., laying on of hands and anointing with oil, ointment, or medicine or some other when possible. We should primarily look to the elders to do this but others as well. For this reason, an important responsibility of bishops/pastors/elders regarding taking care of the church of God is prayer of faith for healing of those he oversees. We should have faith that God will heal even if he chooses not to do so. For prayer is always understood to include the provision of if the Lord wills even if those word are not spoken, or written in a particular scripture (I John 5:14, James 4:15).
Special Prayer Line/Circles
Here prayer lines/circles refer to when people come forward for special prayer. During such time the person may raise hands in praise, thanksgiving and opening to the move of God. During special prayer ministers may interact with the person in various ways. Examples are breathing on, laying hands on, and anointing the person with oil.
Sometimes the person may fall down backwards or forwards. Ministers should not use their hands or other methods to physically or psychologically force or pressure people down nor should people respond to any improper force or pressure. In a prayer circle/line, supporting ministers may participate by circling with hands raised, laying on hands, and catching them to brace their fall. This support is proper out of love and aid.
Also, ministers should realize in addition to praise and thanksgiving, special prayer requests sometimes arise from emotional desire to receive relief from pain and other spiritual and/or physical/temporal life troubling issues. Decent and orderly emotional release and expression of congregational love is beneficial for healing in the Spirit. Invitation to follow up pastoral care should be personally considered by the pastoral staff. Each local church should have a comprehensive support system for hurting individuals, including visitors.
Pray, Have Faith and Act (James 2:14-26)!
To God Be the Glory!