This Is What Anointing Looks Like
Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision
“Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.” – James 5:14 NRSV
James is my kind of guy!
James lays it all out there and then provides you with ‘righteous’ alternatives so that you might live a life worthy to be called a child of God and to live as a Christian in the world. My interpretation of this verse has me understanding that James is not giving us an absolute promise of healing, but more importantly it is the act of prayer by the leaders of the church who, trusting in God, ask for His peace and spiritual joy to sustain us (those who are ‘sick’ or ‘weak’, general use of the verb ‘sick’ – think beyond disease).
James teaches us that it is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that our faith is one that trusts in God, and not in the physical circumstances with which we are surrounded. [Faith is the underlying theme in the Letter of James. Also James’ style of writing reflects his desire to engage his readers personally. In chapter 5 James speaks on the topic of prayer saying that prayer is the right course of action for the full range of life-situations and for any person in these situations. James gives instruction of when to pray, how to pray, and why pray (13-14)].
From about 2004-2013 I was a ‘caregiver’. First for my mother, who suffered with dementia; and then, my husband who suffered with a fatal neuro-degenerative brain disease. During these ten years it was my faith that sustained me. It was knowing I/we were being lifted up in prayer by the ‘leaders’ of Faith Church that gave me the strength for the journey. It was a humbling experience. I have never had to depend on others, or even God, to such an extent before. I found myself understanding James’ point that it is out of our hands and in the hands of God.
The ‘elders/leaders’ came and prayed over me and my loved ones and ‘anointed’ us with ‘oil’. This brought peace, hope and comfort to myself – and I believe – to my mom and to my husband. I ‘called’ (an expression of faith) and ‘the church’ (unity in spirit) responded by praying over them/us (indicating there is something very specific we can always do in every situation, pray), anointing them/us with oil (a symbolic act of the gift of healing in the broadest sense of the word) in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Barb Rich, Stewardship Ministry Team Associate Leader
October’s Prayer Focus: O God our sustainer, please provide all that is needed for Faith Church to serve you in mission and ministry.