Healing prayer. It’s been a part of my call for a long time, even before I graduated seminary. I believe that God still heals today. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother with the “Prayers of the People” in the worship service. Why lift up the concerns of the people if God doesn’t heal anymore?
But God does and we pray.
“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14
Yet healing services are sometimes met with suspicion, and I get this. Just watch the T.V. healers, or read the stories of how they have been debunked and it makes sense. Say “healing service” and the popular opinion is charlatans and fakes fleecing the flock.
But scripture calls us to pray for the sick.
“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.” James 5:14-15
On Sunday October 20th, we held a Service of Healing and Wholeness. It’s not the first time I’ve tried to do this, but it was certainly the most attended and accepted. The time was right. On a wet, cold, rainy October Sunday afternoon we gathered in the sanctuary to worship God, to share Christ’s supper, to sing, pray and anoint.
“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you…” Exodus 23:25
The congregation was more than receptive. They sang, they prayed, they sat in silence, they accepted the anointing with oil and they came forward for prayer with honest faith. It was one of the most powerful services I’ve been involved in. And the Spirit was certainly present.
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
Jesus was present. His comfort was present. His love was present. And Jesus took all we put at the foot of the cross.
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” Jeremiah 30:17
Our congregation has been hit hard this year with illnesses. We have a few people with cancer, we have some hurting from grief, we have had too many funerals, hospital stays and crises. But God is not finished with us. God has far more to say about healing than we have to say about sickness.
To God be the glory!