James 5:14-15 states “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.”
This verse doesn’t really make any sense to me unless the position of “elder” has a “Priestly Office” such as the one Paul refers to in Romans 15:16 where he stated he was a minister of God in the Priestly service (hierourgounta in the Greek) of the Gospel of God. Why bother calling an elder/pastor for an anointing if he is not a priest?
Speaking for the Mormons, anyone holding the office of elder through the Melchizedek priesthood, also holds the office of priest through the Aaronic priesthood.
Here’s a picture I just took of my little vial of oil, which was set apart for annointing the heads of those sick and afflicted. I keep it on my keychain so I’ll always have it with me - sometimes a request for a blessing just shows up out of nowhere.
The oil is consecrated and set apart for anointing of sick and aflicted. (I then carry the oil around with me, or set it somewhere for later use.)
The oil is put on the head of the person to be blessed, and a short anointing prayer is said by a priesthood holder placing hands on the head.
The anointing is sealed, where a second priesthood holder (if available) places hands on the head, seals the anointing, pronounces a blessing as directed by the spirit, and closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
I witnessed something of a miracle while doing this back 13 years ago. My wife had given birth, but we had to rush her back to the ER a week later, as she had started bleeding again. Badly. The ER doc looked at her and ran out yelling to get everyone moving, because my wife was dying. In the two minutes we had, I did all those above steps. The docs all rushed in and carted her off to emergency surgery immediately afterwards, which was successful.
The surgery was successful, but that wasn’t the miracle. It was that our infant daughter, who had been crying loudly for the hour prior to that blessing, sat in a corner of the ER room and became quiet and peaceful for the duration of the anointing. When I was done and the docs rushed back in, she started crying again. That was her deal for about the first year of her life - whenever she was in a car seat, if we put the seat down, she’d start howling and wouldn’t stop until we picked her up. During the anointing was the only time in her first 6 months of life that she quieted down by herself.
[Hardly a miracle of any significance. Very minor thing. Surely nothing to convince an athiest of the existence of God, but it sticks with me to this day.]
I don’t see that at all. The entire context of the passage is talking about how “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Presumably, elders are righteous men and therefore their prayers have power as they work.
He then goes on to talk about Elijah (who moved in the prophetic rather than the priestly office). Of Elijah, James wrote that he had “a nature like ours,” but his prayers shut up heaven for 3 years and caused the heavens to open up again. The point is that Elijah was no different from us, but he was a righteous man and therefore his prayers were effective.
The whole passage is meant to convey that the prayers of righteous people (not just those with the office of elder) have power.
Because everything should be done decently and in order, as Paul wrote. Elders have oversight of the community, so it’s appropriate that they be called to pray and anoint the sick. However, if it’s absolutely necessary, any righteous man or woman could grab a bottle of olive oil and with fervent prayer reach the throne of God.
At our church, the pastor and associate pastors gather around the person as they are anointed and lay hands on them. The rest of the congregation stretches out their hands and pray as well. We also anoint prayer cloths if people request them.
I knew a Lutheran pastor who had a small vial of holy water and would asperge children in the parish school while asking them to remember the day of their baptism. It was great watching the children eagerly get sprinkled while proudly stating the date of their entry into the Church.
When I was Mormon, briefly. I had my appendix out and I called the bishop to send someone to hospital for a blessing. But I was still very groggy from annestia (sp) and I remember none or little of what happend. I could not tell you who the elders were that did it.