Call For The Elders Of The Church

It is amazing that Lois and I even started praying for the sick, considering the first couple of churches we attended held cessationist views.  Cessationism is the view that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy, and faith healing, ceased being practiced early in the history of the Christian Church.  Cessationists generally believe that the miraculous gifts were provided only for the establishment of the Christian Church, between Pentecost, as described in the 2nd Chapter of Acts, and the completion of the last book of the New Testament, or the death of the Apostle John, the last of the Twelve Apostles.

James 5:14, “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.”

The emphasis of our prayers was more on guiding the surgeons’ hands than on God’s miraculous healing power.  Some went so far as to question whether it was God’s will for the person to be sick in the first place.  I find nothing wrong with saying a prayer concerning guiding the surgeon’s hands, in fact, it makes perfect sense.  However, I do see a problem with believing that God would be the author of a person’s illness or death.  With that in mind, I find it interesting that anyone would be healed with that kind of misguided theology.  I remember how we would get in a circle and pray for the sick, those needing work, the missionaries worldwide, and whatever else anyone would bring up.  I referred to them as being, ‘around the world prayers’ because they covered anything and everything rather than specifically targeting the area needing prayer.

To have any measure of success praying for the sick takes perseverance on the part of the person praying.  Most people who become known for having a healing ministry do not experience many healings at the beginning of their ministry.  John Wimber was fond of saying, “I find more people are healed when I pray for them than when I don’t.” A straightforward but, at the same time, very profound statement.

I believe something happens every time we pray for a person.  Our prayers do not return void.  Many people have developed layers to their conditions, like the layers that make up an onion.  At the core may be a physical condition caused by a car accident, then a layer of unforgiveness, fear, frustration, anger, etc., are added in the days, weeks, months, and even years afterward.  When we pray for them, we may be the first person, or the fiftieth person to pray.  Each time someone prays a layer is removed or exposed for the person to deal with.  Then one day, we come up and pray for them, and we are the ones that see them gloriously healed.  We are a part of a long line of servants who have prayed for them, but in reality, we are the ones who are fortunate to see the core illness healed.

1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

If people just come to me for prayer, their chances of being healed diminishes.  Statistics have shown that when Oral Roberts, Aimee Semple McPherson, A. A. Allen, Jack Coe, or any of the other healing evangelists prayed for the sick during the healing revivals of the ’50s, only 10 – 15 % of them were healed.  It stands to reason then that when more are praying, more are healed.  And even if that seems low, you wouldn’t care if you were part of the 10 – 15 % healed.

A few times, when I prayed for a person they had such dramatic healing that they gasped, danced, cried, laughed, and loudly proclaimed they were healed.  So much so that people gathered around them, amazed at what God had done.  Each time this happened, I would try to figure out (my analytical mind at work) just what I did that was different from my previous prayers for people.  Perhaps it was what I said, how I stood, etc. If I could somehow discover it, I could do it again and see others dramatically healed.  But alas, it was not to be.  In each case, it was so evident that it wasn’t me that healed them that it was God that heals, I just get to be a part of what he is doing.  And when you think about it, that is pretty cool. 

In the early eighties, I began using a prayer model I originally learned from John Wimber called the five-step prayer model.  Today I am still teaching that same model in an online course through Global Awakening and in different schools worldwide.  It gives a person a way of praying for the sick that keeps them on track and helps them from straying off into other areas, areas that would hamper them from receiving their healing.  There are two other parts that we use in the prayer model that have their own models to follow.  The first is inner healing; the next is deliverance. 

It is essential that the people we minister to feel our love and the love of God the Father.  Even if the person is not healed, they are more apt to return for further prayer if they feel loved and accepted by those praying for them. We must build up our faith and witness by praying God’s love into our lives daily.  God’s Word is a love letter to our hearts.  As we flow in the love of God, we will be more sensitive to what God has for each person we will be praying over.  The time we spend in prayer for ourselves and others will be like a river of love flowing from the throne of God through us, impacting those we encounter.

The thing that hinders the people the most in operating and growing in the gifts is the fear of failure—the fear of being humiliated that one is wrong.  However, to work in this gift or any gift, in particular, one has to walk in humility, that the desire to obey the commands from God is more significant than one’s fear of being humiliated.  Healing is a mystery, and with that, I have learned to be comfortable in realizing that I will not have all the answers as to why some are healed and others are not. I could come up with some ideas about why, but that’s all they would be.  I was dramatically healed once of something I wasn’t even asking for; in fact, I was responding to something different when I realized another part of my body had been healed.  Why?  I don’t know.’

I cannot tell you the number of times unexplainable things have happened while I was ministering.  The one problem many of us have is the desire that everything that happens ‘makes sense.’  But when dealing with Spiritual things, it doesn’t always mean you will understand what is happening.  Keep it simple, rely on the Holy Spirit, and read and remember what the Word of God tells us.

Isaiah 41:10, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

What I like about this model is that it shows us how to lovingly ask simple questions that will put the person you are praying for at ease so you can gain a perspective on why they have come forward for prayer.  We must listen carefully and be gentle, patient, and compassionate towards the individual.  Rather than being a specialist, we need to adopt the role of a general practitioner.

How can we pour God’s love into those we meet along life’s pathway?  Perhaps it is as simple as remembering that God loved us first and that love empowers us by His Spirit causing us to love not only our families but others as well. 1 John 4:2-21.

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