(October 27, 2022) Maureen McQuillan responds to a very earnest, thoughtful friend…
Dear Pastor Maureen
I was really blessed by your Experiences testimony (T’was a Cold Wintry Night, Nere a Sound was Heard), it touched me in many ways. Great to learn how the Lord touched you miraculously through the ministry of those elders so long ago.
That aspect – your mother actually requesting the elders to anoint you and pray for you, quoting James 5:14 – is special to me as it has been on my heart for some time. I mean, the thought that when people are sick, they should call for the elders to pray over them, just as James wrote. I mentioned this to my pastor and he agreed, saying that people don’t and he wished they would. What are your thoughts? Tom.
I’m glad my testimony blessed you. In that church I mentioned in my testimony, troubled people had no hesitation in calling for the elders to be anointed with oil and prayed for. It was ‘the in-thing to do.’
People took that scripture you mentioned at face value… they called for prayer. ‘Call’ here is a word meaning ‘to invite.’ There’s an inference that anyone sick should make a point to doing this. In fact, most translations say, ‘should call.’ NASB reads ‘must call.’
Traditionally this was the done thing. Elders, or at least the minister, would be invited – that is asked – to visit sick people at home to pray over them. Or, as was the case with me, elders might ask that the sick be brought to the church.
Also, in churches open to the Holy Spirit, the invitation would be on the other foot. The minister or visiting speaker, in closing the service, would usually invite those wanting to accept Christ as Saviour to come forward, then also those wanting prayer for healing or some other need.
Now, regarding oil, it is not some magic potion, but represents the Holy Spirit, who ministers divine healings and miracles. Sometimes oil is used today but not as often as the scripture above implies. When it is used, it is like a covering, an assurance to the one who is sick.
But I must say this, Tom, anyone can pray for anyone! The greatest assurance is that God will hear that specific prayer, as He does allour prayers. Often when Christians, not necessarily elders or ministers, are chatting on the phone or Skype, one party might mention being sick and the other will immediately pray for the friend. No invitation… just an automatic response of caring for the other person.
If praying for the sick is done openly in church, either during or after the service, it becomes a family situation… more people feeling concerned for the sick ones. Elders or whoever is appointed can anoint and pray, and the whole congregation can feel for the troubled ones and link with them in their hearts. Fulfilment of verse 15 can be believed for… ‘prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.’
Years ago charismatic churches always made time on Sundays for people to give short testimonies of God’s goodness during the week – and it was a family time of resounding amens and rejoicing. We’ve even seen this happen in mainline churches too. In churches we’ve pioneered, we always had an altar time at the end. And, when ministering around we would always invited people forward for prayer.
Maybe suggest to your pastor to introduce a time in your service when the sick are prayed for. Perhaps he could say something like this: ‘Praying for sick and troubled people is on my heart. Well, scripture tells us to call… that is invite… the elders to pray for you, anointing you with oil [He can read James 5:14 and 15]. How about being a little different today… I’ll do the inviting, the asking! Is anyone here today feeling ill or knows of someone who is? If you wish us to pray for your need, any need, I ask you to step up here and…’
Maybe he can even prepare the congregation by preaching a comforting message on divine healing before he invites anyone up to the front. Who knows where this could lead to.
Trust this blesses, Tom. I’ll be praying for you… and your caring pastor.
Got a question for Pr Maureen or Dr Robert McQuillan? Email either: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
So right Maureen, the emphasis is not so much on the oil which as you say is a symbol, nor about who does the praying, or even where, but a simple reliance of faith on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Robert has prayed with me and for me and my wife over Skype.