During the week, after the conclusion of a lunchtime Protestant church service, a gentlemen who I chatted with turned the conversation spontaneously to his need for healing. In seconds he had reached into a leather man-bag and placed a small container of oil into my hands. The oil was purchased for him by another in Israel. It was a fragrant oil with a rich colour. The gentlemen asked that I anoint his forehead – applying the oil with the sign of the cross - then to have him stand. Once standing I was to place both of my hands on different parts of his upper torso. He asked that I pray as the Spirit leads me. His only specification was that the prayer identity the malady.
I was comfortable in the moment, but had a rush of uncertainty and mixed feelings afterwards. It was a most odd mix of feelings – being comfortable at the instant but being wracked with concern afterwards. My unpreparedness was evident within the awkwardly mumbled prayer. I suspect that the patient recorded an unsatisfactory experience; much physical touch clammy. The moment was served perfunctorily. The ambiguity abundant. The prayer was sound, but not dutiful or experienced to the task. It was a moment that perhaps was too mechanical for the patient’s liking. Yet, it perhaps satisfied the patient in that it was an venture of his initiative.
The concern afterwards was twofold. Firstly, ‘what the heck was I doing?’ and secondly, what path is the Lord God taking me on?. The former needs to be addressed now, the latter is best left for the joy of discovery.
The ‘what the heck was I doing?’ was manifold:
- It was accompanied with thoughts: ‘I am of long Anglican upbringing, Anglican’s do not do this, it is for Pentecostals to do’ – which is ultimately a doctrinal limitation or doctrinal snobbery,
- It bore the guilt of completing something for which I had zero experience,
- It drew questions around the source of the oil and the wonder of using a patient’s own oil rather than one of the healer,
- It questioned the spectacle of being in a relatively public place,
- It bore heavy concern of not praying ahead of time in contrast to the spontaneous response, and,
- James Chapter 5 is instructive, yet how does James 5 apply in such immediacy as I experienced. James 5 is far more ordered and planned than taking an opportunity to fulfil a pressing request.
What I was not uncertain of was that God does heal in this day. Justin Peters, a preacher who is affected by cerebral palsy, argues that point well. Peters is quite balanced in that the healing is neither concluded at all times, nor is always complete. The message of the healing of the paralytic in Luke 5 is significant in that Jesus clearly puts the priority on healing from the suffering of sin, over physical healing.
There is much to think about. Jesus would have been quite certain about his own healing touch and most direct in his practice.
Note: all links good as at 11 August 2017
Note: I did include within the prayer a request that Jesus heal at a sub-nuclear level. See this linked post.