James 5:14 states, “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.” That seems like a pretty straight forward instruction, right? The chapter goes on to say, “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
When the man was lowered down into the home through the roof because his friends couldn’t get him through the crowd to see Jesus, what did Jesus say to the sick man? He told him his sins were forgiven. Sin separates us from God. And the man was healed.
My husband and I have been in and out of many churches since we got together over a decade ago, and I was in and out of a bunch of them before we got together. I don’t recall any of them practicing anointing. We always kind of wondered why they didn’t, when there were people in the congregation who were suffering from long term illnesses and it seemed to be a very powerful option. We haven’t been going to a brick and mortar church for a while, except for the occasional visit to a friend’s church. But lately we’ve been having something we call “Drop in Church” at home with some friends and neighbors. We have scripture study together and break bread, but we don’t confine our faith walk to just the day we “do church”.
We have friends in the neighborhood who also work with us and we love them very much. They’re our age, they’re transplants here from the Chicago area and we have lots in common. Joe has been having health issues forever – serious ones; cancer, meningitis, type 1 diabetes, you name it and this poor guy has had it. In the recent past he’s been afflicted with other infections in his brain stem, in his legs, and his toes were starting to turn black. He spent a lot of time in the hospital and then a little while in rehab. My husband and I were talking about anointing one night and with a couple of quick texts we arranged to have our preacher friend, Eric come over the following night. Several of our other neighbors/coworkers came as well and together we anointed his head with oil and prayed over our friend.
His wife, Lisa asked after the blessing, “What does the word Adonai mean?” She’d never heard the word before, didn’t know what it meant but while we’d been praying together she’d heard it whispered in her ear repeatedly. I told her what it meant. Angels praise the Lord all the time, it’s what they do. I have no doubt there were angels with us that night and they’d been praising the name of the Lord, and allowed her to hear it. Gave me goosebumps then, and still does.
Joe slept through the whole night that night, which he hasn’t done in forever. And his toes are starting to heal.