Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. – James 5:14
A pastor ushered me into a conference room where I found a group of faithful men huddled in prayer. The Holy Spirit had a palpable presence in that room as the men cried out for cleansing from all sin and for God to work in and through them. I stood nervously on the other side of a partial wall as I humbly realized they were preparing themselves to pray over me.
I hate drawing attention to myself. I realize this is incongruent for someone who perpetually wears neon colors and who is comfortable on stage. But underneath the bright, shiny surface is a quiet woman who desires to serve quietly. So my request for prayer and anointing with oil was a very desperate act.
I’ve written before about all this – about my chronic, lifelong insomnia; about praying for healing but accepting God’s grace when healing is denied; about being willing to give as well as receive. My sleeplessness had pushed me to the point of stupidity and surrender. It was time for obedience.
I had been on this path years ago, though not for myself. My oldest son was facing a third surgery as a toddler. Our prayers had gone unanswered, and the medicines had proved ineffective. The doctor said we needed a miracle, and I knew where to find one. So I contacted our pastor and requested prayer and anointing for my son. When we returned to the doctor only a week after our previous visit, we were informed we had received our miracle. No sign of sickness remained.
So why had I waited so long to do the same for myself? That question hung over me as I waited to be ushered into the room. Once the final “amen” was sounded, I was ushered into the room, where our pastor emeritus – a man who is soon to receive many crowns – read from James 5, commended my obedience and explained it isn’t always God’s will to heal. I nodded in acknowledgement. I know that too well.
The men gathered around me, laying hands on my shoulders and on my head. The pastor applied the oil to my forehead in the shape of a cross, and they began to pray to Jehovah Rapha, our Lord and Healer.
I didn’t fall to the ground, have any visions or experience any electrical jolts to my body; instead, I felt the presence and peace of God and His love expressed through His people. A few minutes later, the session was over. It was beautiful, simple and serene, and it was the right thing to do.
Am I healed? It’s too soon to say. But I am strengthened in my spirit, and I have confidence that God’s grace will be sufficient for any trial I may face, even this. If that sounds pat, be assured it’s not. I speak from much experience. And someday not too far in the future, I am assured I will have my rest. In the meantime, Lord, help me finish my race strong.