One of the great privileges that your elders have is being able to shepherd the flock. One tangible way that we do this is by praying for and anointing those who are sick with oil. You may be thinking, “I didn’t know that Presbyterians did things like that. Why?”
In James 5, the church is given some very practical instruction on how to pray for those who are sick. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13–16 ESV)
We do not believe that anointing someone with oil is magical. But we do believe that God commands us to do so when those who are sick in the church ask for prayer. We do believe that this anointing is symbolic of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of a believer to bring both spiritual and physical healing.
Furthermore, the focus of this biblical instruction is not on the oil, it’s on the prayer of faith. Those who are sick often find that it is hard to pray. It is hard to exercise faith. It is difficult to trust God when you feel bad and are weak. This again is where the faith of other brothers and sisters in the Lord praying for you IS powerful and effective … it has great power the Bible promises!
I tell you all this for a few reasons. One, if you are sick and you feel that your faith is weak, let me encourage you to call for the elders to come and pray and anoint you. It would be our privilege. But also, I want to remind you to pray for the sick – specifically those in our body.
For some time now, we have been praying for Bill Baldwin and Ann Keown. This brother and sister have been walking faithfully with the Lord for many, many years and it seems now that they will know fully what we only know in part. They are ready to be with their Savior and they know that nothing can separate them from the love of Jesus. Pray for them now as they are ill and at home with hospice care. Pray for Betty as she cares for Bill and continues to serve him so faithfully. Pray for Tom as he cares for Ann and serves her. Pray for them as they love each other and rejoice in their marriages of over 60 years!
These are dear saints in the Lord that God has so richly blessed Cornerstone with. Please be on the lookout for ways to serve them and love them in the coming weeks. Make sure you read and listen to their stories. They have wonderful testimonies of God’s faithfulness.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:10–11 ESV)
See you Sunday!
Your friend and pastor,