Monday, August 6, 2012

Anointing and Prayer

Recently at our church’s worship service, a couple told the story of their little boy. When he was 8 ½ months old, he began to throw up anything and everything he was fed – and he threw up for 37 days straight. They eventually learned that he was allergic to a large number of common foods – dairy products and fish, to cite only two – and numerous environmental factors.

They family went on a lengthy journey of doctors, tests and prayers. The couple reached a point where they knew their son was in God’s hands, and no matter what happened, they would find solace, contentment and meaning in that. Not long ago, the couple brought their now three-and-a-half-year-old son to be anointed and prayed over by the pastors and elders. Some may question or scoff at this, but not long afterward the child began to gain weight and thrive.

Last December, I did exactly the same thing.

In June of 2011, I experienced a ruptured disc in my back. At first excruciating, the pain seemed to subside, and things seemed better through July. And then in August, the pain was back, and worse than before. I couldn’t drive for three weeks because of the maximum does of the painkiller I was taking around the clock. Numerous times I was lying flat on the floor, the only comfortable position I could maintain for any length of time.

For the next six months, it was doctors, an MRI, two rounds of cortisone injections directly into my back, physical therapy (two different therapists), using a handicapped parking tag and feeling grateful for it, constant use of a cane to walk, and pain that could only be held at bay with prescription painkillers. The second physical therapist I went to told me later that at first they thought I was beyond normal help and surgery inevitable. I was doing all kinds of exercises, the therapist was manipulating my leg in ways I didn’t think possible, and I was doing traction twice a week. That was my life for about five months.

In December, our pastor preached a sermon on the elders doing anointing and praying. After hearing that, and with the urging of my wife, I asked the pastor for the ceremony. After church one Sunday, several pastors and elders gathered together, anointing my forehead with oil and praying over me.

I didn’t expect a miracle healing, right there on the spot. I understood what this was really about – not so much healing as submitting to God. And no miracle healing happened that day, or the next, or the two or three weeks after that.

A short time later, we consulted with a surgeon, who looked at the MRI and said no surgery was necessary – the ruptured part of the disc was dissolving and healing on it its own, reducing pressure on the nerve and – eventually, he said – reducing the pain.

At the end of the first week of February, I was able to lay the cane aside. I used my handicapped parking sticker until the end of March. About then, I took my first bike ride in nine months. Physical therapy ended in early April, and now I’m working with a personal trainer to strengthen my core and get back into shape. I still get twinges of the pain at times. Occasionally, I can still feel a slight numbness in my left calf and foot. But the pain is almost entirely gone.

I don’t know the desperation and fear of parents with a very sick child. But I do know the desperation and fear of thinking that a medical condition requiring one of the strongest painkillers available might be with me the rest of my life.

I submitted that desperation and fear – and that healing was the real miracle healing.

Please pray for that family at my church. The little boy is doing better, gaining weight and beginning to thrive.

And please pray for Seth and Amber Haines. Their youngest son, Titus, has been in the hospital for some time, with significant feeding and nutrition problems. Seth and Amber have been walking a path filled with anguish, hope, faith, desperation, encouragement, and helplessness, and it’s been hard. So pray for them and for Titus. Information can be found at Seth’s blog and Amber’s blog. Titus is at home now, but the situation is still serious.


David Rupert said...

Glynn. I believe in healing. I've been one of those elders, anointing with oil. And I have seen healing first hand.

I'm grateful for your miracle and will pray for Amber and Seth

Fatha Frank said...

I think anointing and healing are areas where we throw the baby out with the bath water. Cessationists scoff at the notion all together while holiness churches display it to excess. I like your example- right in the middle. And you're right about the real miracle.

Jay Cookingham said...

Prayer for healing is throughout the Scriptures. He is the same today, yesterday and forever...why wouldn't He heal today? I'm glad you're better bro'!

Louise Gallagher said...

You made me cry, and pray.

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

What a remarkable story and glorious miracle, Glynn! I'm so happy for your recovery.
Thanks for sharing this inspiration with us today.

Jody Lee Collins said...

Glynn, anointing with oil and prayer for healing is a common occurence where we worship...but the gift is still God's to give.
here's the line that resonated with me--"I understood what this was really about – not so much healing as submitting to God."
I think no matter what kind of healing we need--spiritual or emotional, especially those--it is always about giving up and giving in to our Father God.

So glad this has/had a happy ending for you. And thank you for the reminder on the Haines'

diana said...

Oh, amen, Glynn! I've been on both ends of this wonderful, sacramental act - or someone close to me has been. Despite all my doubts, I do believe that God is still in the healing business, and that following the admonition of James is a worthy and necessary act.

I am glad and grateful to read of your own story here - and will share that my much-loved son-in-law (before he was my son-in-law) had a beautiful anointing gathering where our pastors and entire family laid hands on him just before some major surgery at the end of a second course of rigorous treatment for nasal-pharynx cancer. The surgery revealed cancer completely contained within one lymph node only. He was given the gift of 20 years of life - marriage, 3 sons, a productive and dedicated business life and a powerful testimony of God's healing through BOTH medicine and the anointing by elders.

And I have anointed and prayed over others in my pastoral role - moved to tears each time as the Spirit shows up exactly as you have described: by bringing peace of mind, hope and gradual, gentle movement toward wholeness. As I completed my training in spiritual direction last week, one of the gifts I received from the staff was a small vial of anointing oil. I treasure it and prayerfully look forward to opportunity to use it in this special ministry of prayer and listening. Thank you so much for this, Glynn. Truly.

nance said...

Thankful for your sharing.

jasonS said...

I love God's healing whether it's all at once or little by little. I am fully convinced it's His desire for us. He'll take that desperation and fear and pour out His love in such amazing ways. Thanks for sharing this and I'll be praying for the families you mentioned. Blessings to you, Glynn.

Megan Willome said...

I only knew pieces of you story. I'm glad to have it all hear together.

I have a very complicated relationship with healing. But I know that right before Easter, when I got to carry the oil used for anointing the sick up to the altar, well, it was significant. They didn't have to give it to me, but they did.