"Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
James 5:14-15 (KJV)
Not many people would think twice while reading James 5, especially when going through these particular verses. I mean, seriously, how can putting oil on someone heal him? It sounds like a cult thing to do, right? Actually, no. Sit down and grab some lemonade. Let me tell you a story.
A few years ago, a very good friend of my family (whom we shall refer to as Mr. Friend in this story) approached my father and asked him what he thought about this passage. My father, a preacher, honestly responded that he hadn't really given it much thought, but that if God commanded it, then we should do it. Mr. Friend then asked if my dad would anoint him with oil.
See, Mr. Friend had just been diagnosed with cancer... for the third time. He'd already had it twice, and gone through major radiation, had his head cut open to allow the doctors to remove cancer, and now he was facing that yet again.
My dad put a lot of prayer into this, as I'm certain you can imagine. He went with my mom to pick out a special oil to use, and then the next Sunday in church, my dad asked Mr. Friend to come up before the congregation. My dad read the verses from James, explained what he was doing, put a dab of the oil on Mr. Friend's forehead, and then motioned for the men of the church to join him in laying their hands on Mr. Friend and praying for him right then and there, stating that what they were doing was in faith, and that whatever the outcome would be, may God be glorified.
Personally, I really wasn't sure about the whole thing. I had no idea if it would actually work. Truthfully, I really wasn't sure if we weren't doing something horribly out of style and dated and whatnot. But since my dad, who is a pastor, was proceeding with it all in good faith, I figured it was fine.
A few tense days passed. Mr. Friend went to the doctor. And we got a phone call.
THE CANCER WAS GONE!
Completely gone! The doctor couldn't find a trace of it anywhere. Mr. Friend was cancer-free, and to this day, he still is.
But what was it that had happened? Why did Mr. Friend get healed the way he did?
It wasn't the oil. Even though it had been specially prepared for such anointing, it wasn't a magic oil. It was a simple blend of simple oils. There was nothing amazing about it.
It wasn't the fact that all the men in our church laid their hands on Mr. Friend. They were just normal men, men who went through the same day-to-day trials that we all do. There was nothing amazing about the men.
It wasn't even Mr. Friend himself. He only stepped up in faith and obeyed what God had said to do in James 5. There was nothing amazing about Mr. Friend.
Read the verses I posted above again. It was because it was done in faith. "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick." It was the amazing act of God that healed Mr. Friend. It was all God. We simply obeyed, in faith, and we saw miraculous results that only He could give.
Too many times we brush things off, such as anointing with oil, calling them old-fashioned, not relevant, cultish. Why do we do that? It's because we don't believe God can do the miracles we read about in the Bible again. It was amazing to read about, but we think it's pointless to ask for some of the same miracles again. Christ cast out demons, healed the lame and blind, granted health to the sick. Is He not able to do the same now? He is. And He does. It's our job to obey, trusting that He will answer. It's our job to believe that the God of the universe, the Lord that loves us so, will hear our prayer. We don't see miracles today because we don't look for them. We don't see His hand of power because we don't believe we could see His power working. God is still performing miracles today. Mr. Friend is living proof. We just need need to obey and trust Him.
Yesterday, we had a special service in our church to anoint my grandma, as well as Mr. Friend's daughter and her husband. My grandma (this is my dad's mom, not the one that was in a car accident last December) fell and severely broke her leg last summer and is just finally able to get around again. However, during her months in a cast, other physical problems came to light, including the telltale signs of Parkinson's disease, and she asked my dad to anoint her. Mr. Friend's daughter has some kind of heart disorder where her heart beats too hard and too fast for her good, and she is facing surgery sometime in the near future. Mr. Friend's son-in-law was in a car accident back in 2005, in which he ruptured a disc in his back. Since then, he's had 2 failed back surgeries, and lives every day in pain.
My dad anointed all three of them yesterday. We don't know how God will answer, whether He will heal them like He did Mr. Friend or not. But we know that whatever happens, He will be glorified.