In previous lessons, we’ve discussed several means prescribed by God in His Word through which we can receive His healing for our bodies. This lesson looks at two other common means provided by our Lord and used for centuries by believers all over the world.
Mark 16:18 says that believers will lay hands on the sick, and they will be healed. This practice was one of the means that Jesus used while on earth in the flesh because it provided a way to release the actual power of God into a person’s flesh. The Spirit of God is a real person, and His power is the very energy that created the universe. It too is very real. Scientists and lab technicians have at times tested this power in laboratories with x-ray machines and machines that register energy flow. They have been able to show clinically that at the time of prayer, a real transfer of an energy force takes place and changes the flesh into which it flows. So when believers, filled with the same Holy Spirit that Jesus was filled with, lay hands on the sick in His name, that same power flows into and heals the sick.
Sometimes, when the healing is taking place gradually, and believers have laid hands on the sick one a number of times over a period of weeks, medical tests have shown definite physical improvement after each episode of prayer. We see an example of this in Scripture. When Jesus ministered to the blind man in Mark 8:22-25, He found that the man received part of his healing manifested the first time hands were laid on him, but received the complete manifestation after Jesus laid His hands on him a second time. Apostle/evengelist John G. Lake, in the testimonies from his Healing Rooms in Spokane, WA, also tells of more than one situation where x-ray equipment showed the instant physical evidence of a diseased limb manifesting more and more healing after each episode of prayer.
There is another advantage in the laying on of hands. When one is sick, faced with very physical symptoms, the physical experience of feeling the believers’ hands on his body allows the sick one to release his faith at the exact time of prayer, and often makes receiving easier. The Lord thinks of everything, beloved, and He know there are times that we need a particular kind of experience to help us receive from Him. It is probably for this reason also, that the laying on of hands is particularly effective when praying for non-believers.
Very closely associated with laying on of hands is the procedure of anointing the sick with oil and praying for healing. We find this admonition in James 5:14-15, which says:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
These instructions were written to the church. Recognizing that many times the sick one is too weak to be able to stand on his own, the Lord has laid the responsibility for believing for healing and administering that healing, on the mature believers in any given body. The word elder here from the Greek actually means “older one” or “senior”. Hopefully, the ones who walk in the office of elder in churches are the senior or mature ones in the faith. But if you do not find that to be the case in your church body, do not hesitate to ask other believers whom you know to be mature in the Lord to anoint you with oil and pray for you. God will honor their prayers because they fulfill His requirements, regardless of chronological age or official title.
But remember, dear sick one, don’t wait for the elders to come to you. It is your responsibility to call for them, for that is your act of faith.
The oil itself, of course, does not heal. But from the beginning of God’s covenant relationships with man, anointing with oil has been a divinely ordained way of setting a person apart to the Lord. The priests of the old Covenant were consecrated in that way. The prophets of God anointed the kings of Israel in that way. So the oil applied to the sick one represents consecrating him to the Lord — handing him completely over to the Lord, if you will, so that the Lord can work the deliverance and healing.
The sick one needs to realize that this act is his personal, fresh consecration to the Lord and that it represents a true repentance for any sin not yet confessed, and a willingness to submit to God with his whole heart. Then, he comes into a place of receiving, as the elders release their faith to God, providing Him with an open channel through which to meet the sick one’s need. Also, the oil, regardless of where it is applied, provides that very physical aid for the sufferer, which helps him release his faith at the very time of prayer and gives him a tangible experience on which to lean in any possible intervening spiritual battle over the manifestation.
As we said, it does not matter, of course, where the oil is applied unless the Lord leads specifically in a particular case. Over the years, it has been interesting to me to note that there are a variety of ways to anoint with oil. The priests of the Old Covenant often had the oil poured over their heads in such quantities that it ran down their shoulders and totally saturated their garments. Generally, people praying for the sick take a small amount of oil and rub it rather inconspicuously on the forehead or, possibly, the affected part of the body.
However, one of the most interesting testimonies I’ve ever heard comes from that great evangelist Smith Wigglesworth. He tells of how he went to pray for a woman near death. The minister who accompanied him and the woman’s husband both prayed defeated, unbelieving prayers, at which point Wigglesworth began to feel desperate. His spirit responded to the magnitude of the woman’s need with action of equal magnitude. He took a bottle full of oil from his back pocket and poured the entire contents out upon the woman’s head, crying out to God to heal her, and He immediately did so. But no matter how it’s done, beloved, we have God’s promise that the acts of faith and obedience in calling for the elders, in order to have them anoint with oil and pray a prayer of faith, will bring happy results.
anointing photo via photobucket: