Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any 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 of faith will save the sick man, 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.
These words from the letter of St. James remind us of the importance of the Ministry of Healing. Since the days of the early church people have been anointed, have had hands laid on them and prayers said for the gift of healing.
At St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s we have a monthly Healing Service (non-Eucharistic), alternating between the two parishes. In this service prayers for Healing are offered, and those who wish to come forward to receive the laying on of hands and to be anointed with the Holy Oil.
Although the sacramental act of anointing is done by the priest, lay people share with the priest in the laying on of hands. This is a reminder to us that all who are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ share in the ministry of His Church.
In the order of service we use, from Pastoral Service in Common Worship, we have printed the introduction to the Service of Healing. It says:
It is apparent in Scripture that the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of human beings are closely interconnected. Christ’s work of reconciliation extends beyond the purely personal and relational to the social order and the whole creation (cf Colossians 1.15-27). The Gospels use the term ‘healing’ both for physical healing and for the broader salvation that Jesus brings. A common New Testament term for sickness is ‘weakness’ (asthenia) (Luke 5.15; 13.11,12; John 5.5); it carries broad associations of powerlessness and vulnerability, including human vulnerability in the face of the dominion of sin and death (Romans 5.6; 8.3). As Christians face weakness, they receive God’s grace, expressed sometimes in an experience of healing and sometimes through the strength that comes in the bearing of weakness (2 Corinthians 12.9).
Acts of healing in the Gospels are intimately related to the restoring of individuals to a place of worth within the social order (cf Mark 1.44; 5.15-20; 6.32-34; Luke 13.10-17). ‘By his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Peter 2.24) makes powerful links between human pain and vulnerability and the saving impact of Jesus’ own suffering. The same interconnectedness is present where Scripture speaks of God’s image in us to point to the way human life is marred and threatened by the impact of evil and is restored by the new creation in Christ (Romans 3.23; 2 Corinthians 3.18; Ephesians 2.13-16).
Healing, reconciliation and restoration are integral to the good news of Jesus Christ. For this reason prayer for individuals, focused through laying on of hands or anointing with oil, has a proper place within the public prayer of the Church. God’s gracious activity of healing is to be seen both as part of the proclaiming of the good news and as an outworking of the presence of the Spirit in the life of the Church.
Prayer for healing needs to take seriously the way in which individual sickness and vulnerability are often the result of injustice and social oppression. Equally importantly such prayer should not imply that the restoration of physical wholeness is the only way in which Christ meets human need. Healing has always to be seen against the background of the continuing anguish of an alienated world and the hidden work of the Holy Spirit bringing God’s new order to birth. It is a way of partaking in God’s new life that will not be complete until it includes the whole creation and the destruction of death itself.
It may be that you are reading this and
prayers for healing for yourself or for someone dear to you. Please be
assured of a warm welcome at these services of healing. Below are the
of the services for the remainder of 2004. Alternatively, if you wish
to be prayed for at these services, please email email@example.com
in good time and we will include the name (and specific intention if
wish) in the next Healing Service.
Please use this prayer as
give thanks for the Ministry of Healing in the Church and for those who
you anointed your Son Jesus Christ
with the Holy Spirit and with power
to bring to us the blessings of your kingdom.
Anoint your Church with the same Holy Spirit,
that we who share in his suffering and victory
may bear witness to the gospel of salvation;
through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
A Prayer for Healing
Most merciful Lord,
we ask your blessing on all those who are sick in mind and body.
Comfort and cheer them that they may have courage and fortitude to face the pain and suffering laid upon them.
We pray for the physically handicapped, for the deaf, dumb and blind,
for those who have lost the power of reason
and those whose pain is worse in the slow night hours.
those who are terminally ill
and we give thanks for all doctors, nurses, relatives and friends who,
by their devotion and skill, tend to the needs of those committed to their care.
Finally we pray for
all who have to bear suffering of any kind
(here the names of those for whom prayers have been specially requested may be inserted).
May they turn to you, Lord, for strength, encouragement and consolation.
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