|Credit: James Bradley, Flickr Creative Commons|
Today I would like to welcome back to Rethinking Faith and Church my brother Waldo Rochow as a guest blogger as he shares his heart in praying for the sick, and ponders the use of oil in it. I am joining you in regularly praying for your friend, Bro. Thanks for sharing.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:13-16; NIV)
Anointed with oil many that were sick. The word is aleiphō. The papyri give us examples of its usage. We have a letter from the second century in which a man whose wife had gone away a month before, writes that he has not bathed or anointed himself. There is a third-century inscription in honor of a gymnasiarch (head of gymnasium) which speaks of him as the beloved anointer. In James , directions are given for the elders to anoint the sick person with oil. In Luke , the Samaritan treated the wounds of the man with oil and wine. Olive oil was a common remedial agent of the ancients and was used internally and externally. At a time when the healing art was at its infancy, and medicines were few, olive oil was a panacea for many ills. Here, the disciples are directed to use it in the healing of the sick. In the case of James , it is prayer and medicine, God working directly, and through the medicine, which resulted in the healing of the sick person. In this instance in Mark it is the same, but with this difference, that up to the time of the close of revelation with the writing of The Book of the Revelation, God performed miracles of healing through the apostles. This was for the purpose of attesting their messages as from Him. Since then, there is no need of this. Hence, God heals directly in answer to prayer now, not through individuals. The normal procedure now is prayer, the doctor, and the use of medicine and other means as God may direct. Where the two latter are not obtainable, God does heal without means when it is in His wisdom to do so.
When I (Randy) was living in a remote part of Indonesia, I was often awakened in the middle of the night by grave news: “Quick, come to the dormitory, so-and-so is dying.” That will wake you up in a hurry. The first few times it happened, I nearly killed myself dressing and running full speed through the dark to rescue a student from the precipice of death… only to discover that he or she had a cold. The old “take two pills and call me in the morning” approach literally was the best treatment. Hundreds of students were sped toward recovery by the thousands of ibuprofen tablets I distributed.
A few years later, I discovered that students considered me a man of little faith. All I did was give them medicine! They would always pray for the student after I had left.
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:25-34; NIV)