Should anointing be performed only when one has an illness and wants to take it to the Lord for His healing?
Many feel that they should ask for anointing only after they have exhausted every other possibility and are on their deathbed. There is nothing in the Bible that says this. "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." James 5:14
It is a great blessing for the church elders to minister to those in need. We realize that every little illness is not cause for anointing, but we read in Counsels on Health: "Why is it that men are so unwilling to trust Him who created man and who can, by a touch, a word, a look, heal all manner of disease? . . . Our Lord has given us definite instruction, through the apostle James, as to our duty in case of sickness." 1 Even though your need may be treated by doctors, bring it to the Lord first.
Who should be called? The pastor or the local elder.
"I feel like I am bothering the pastor and the elders by asking them to take time for an anointing service." This is a common feeling, but an anointing service is not a bother at all. They are here to serve you. They care about you and want you to live life to its fullest. And they gain a blessing from this service too!
Who will be at the anointing?
The pastor, elders, and sometimes their spouses. Others may be there who are being anointed as well. You may request special friends to accompany you and pray for you.
Where will the anointing be held? Generally at the church or the person's home. There are cases when the anointing is held at the hospital.
What if I caused my illness?
Most illnesses are caused by lifestyle and habits. God is willing to forgive any sin. We must confess and allow God to put away any sin that might have caused the affliction. Psalm 107 describes God's grace at work. It says that because of transgression sinners are afflicted and draw near unto the gates of death. But verses 19 and 20 add: "They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his Word and healed them."
If I am healed, can the illness return?
If you have knowledge of a certain habit that brought about the illness and you return to that habit, then many times the illness will return. Stay in tune with the Lord and His leading for your life, and your healing will be secure.
What if I am not healed?
First, remember that you have done what the Bible says to do by calling for anointing. Second, realize that God sometimes chooses to heal in stages. Many have been healed gradually. Some have lost their pain. Others have found relief through doctors and their care. Some have gone through surgeries.
Some have not been healed on this earth; they will have to wait until heaven. The elders don't question the sincerity of the person if there is not a physical healing. They know that on every occasion some blessings are received. You will experience these blessings!
Do I have to disclose what my illness is?
You do not have to mention specifically why you wish to be anointed. The pastor and elders will respect your privacy. The elders will need to know what your general needs are to help them know how to pray for you.
What will happen at the service?
First, there will be time for talking and sharing. The pastor will talk about anointing and what it means. Then you will have a chance to share your reason for requesting the anointing. When it is time for prayer, those conducting the anointing will kneel in a circle around you. All in the circle will say a prayer for healing, with the pastor closing by praying and touching your forehead with oil. After the pastor's prayer, you will be given an opportunity to ask the Lord for healing. Sometimes a song or two will be sung to close the service.
Why does the pastor anoint with olive oil?
Oil represented the Holy Spirit in biblical times,
Do I have to be sick with an illness to be anointed?
No! People have been anointed for depression, bad habits, mental problems, handicaps, anything they feel Satan is bothering them with.
How should I prepare for the anointing service?
Psalm 66:18 says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." All known sin must be confessed and allowed to be put away by the Lord. God cannot bless you in your sins.
In your recommended reading you will read: "If any who are seeking health have been guilty of evil speaking, if they have sowed discord in the home, the neighborhood, or the church, and have stirred up alienation and dissension, if by any wrong practice they have led others into sin, these things should be confessed before God and before those who have been offended. . . . "When wrongs have been righted, we may present the needs of the sick to the Lord in calm faith, as His Spirit may indicate." 2
If you feel like you cannot gain victory over a sin problem, this can be made a subject of prayer in the anointing service. Jesus can heal every need. Put your trust in the Lord and His grace. If your faith seems weak, it will be strengthened during the service. God wishes you well more than you wish healing!
Besides searching your life for sins and confessing them, please study and read the following: James 5:3-16; Psalm 107:17-20; "Prayer for the Sick" in The Ministry of Healing; Psalm 66:18; Psalm 41:10.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call your elder or the pastor. In the meantime, continue to search your heart and spend time in prayer and study.
"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." (3 John 2).
1 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1951), p. 457.
2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1942), p. 229.
Mark Owen is a pseudonym. The author did not wish to be viewed as an expert on anointing, but wanted readers to focus on anointing itself