HEALING & WHOLENESS
At St Mary-in-the-Fields we offer prayer for healing and wholeness, with anointing of holy oil, on the first Sunday of the month. Those who wish to receive it do so after receiving of the bread and wine in Holy Communion. We are so grateful to God that some members of our congregation have experienced a real measure of healing, and most have had a lot of encouragement.
From ancient times, the ministry of healing has been part of Christian tradition. There has been a rise in the number of churches offering this ministry, but it is still not seen as “normal” in church. Many churches ‘remember the sick’ and may pray for them, but do not actually pray with them. Some churches, like ours, do offer a regular healing prayer ministry, whilst others have it only on special occasions. Where it is offered, some churches do it in a very liturgical and sacramental fashion, whilst in others it is a demonstrative, noisy, yet still sincere, manner. Sadly, in some churches, no matter how or how much prayer is offered, little seems to happen. Some people are scared of demonstrative behaviour and many are afraid of disappointment. Consequently, a lot of Christians have lost courage about praying for healing. We should not be surprised, therefore, when people turn to Crystals, Reiki and other ‘healers’, which have nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Saviour came to die for us, that we might be forgiven and have assurance of eternal life, but Jesus also came to proclaim the “Kingdom of God” – his rule or reign. His ministry was a “sign” of the Kingdom. The disciples were sent out not just to ‘preach the Kingdom’, but to heal the sick. Christians are charged to offer the same ministry today – God hasn’t changed. If we do not expect God to heal someone when we pray for them – unless there is some faith present – it seems to make it harder for God to work. St Matthew tells us (chapter 13 verse 58) that Jesus himself could not do much in his own town where faith was absent.
For many years I taught children a ‘method’ of praying for healing. I call it “Hands-on-Praying” – though a Church Army colleague quickly dubbed it “Drain-piping”! It is a method that adults and children can cope with (though often children seem to do it better!) My main observation is that children seem to grow in their expectancy, and at the same time, they see God do more as a result of their prayers. Such expectation may be another term for faith – we believe God wants to heal, and that he will do it. He may not do it the way we would like, but he will act when we call to him in faith.
There is, of course, no single ‘method’ for this ministry. Neither are there any guarantees – sometimes people are healed, and sometimes not. Our Lord Jesus Christ used several methods, according to what he felt the Father wanted him to do. That is our only ‘method’ – to listen and obey. The big difference between Jesus and us, of course, is that he healed all who came to him.
The Bible does not often use the word “cured”, but it does use the word “healed”. Healing is about wholeness, it is holistic, in that God’s work of healing touches our whole self – body, mind and spirit.
The Bible tells us that healing is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Whilst some have a special ‘anointing’ in this ministry, it is one of those things that all Christians can do, with God’s grace and power.
We want to increase the scope of this ministry, for we believe that God wants to do more. To that end, we will be having a short series of three sermons on the subject, beginning on Sunday 26th May. We would also plan to offer training for any who wish to share in this ministry, so let Carol or me know if you are interested.
We want it to be ‘normal’ to ask for and receive prayer for healing and wholeness. In this way, we will begin to gain more confidence in the gospel we proclaim, that the Lord Jesus Christ is good news, not just for our eternal future, but for now!
For those who want an easy, yet encouraging read on the subject, I recommend “THE SPIRIT WHO HEALS” by Peter H Lawrence (£7.99 or less). In this book, he searches the Scripture and tells amazing stories of God’s healing power today.
Revd Alan Price.
Every Spring our Highland gardens return to Life, from bleak, darkest, snow-filled winters, and how much more does God care for you that you should have Life in all its fullness.