Prayer for the Month

Heavenly Father, you anointed your Son, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit and with power to bring to us all

the blessings of your kingdom.

Anoint your Church with the same Holy Spirit, that we who share

in his suffering and victory may bear witness to the gospel of salvation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

‘Collect for Wholeness and Healing’, Common Worship: Pastoral Services © The Archbishops' Council (2000)

 

At the end of this month, we’re going to be having a special service of healing, generously led by Rev’d John Leach. Prayers for wholeness and healing are an important part of Christian life, and I thought it might be helpful to offer a prayerful reflection on what this means. The service itself will hopefully not feel overly unfamiliar and will likely still include the celebration of Holy Communion. We often have space for prayers for wholeness and healing after/during the distribution of Holy Communion, because we believe that healing, reconciliation and restoration are inherently part of the salvific good news of Jesus Christ, present in the sharing of Communion around the Lord’s table. For this reason, it is also likely that the prayerful and sensitive inclusion of the laying on of hands and anointing with oil will be made available for those who would like to receive that. Such gracious activity is understood as a visible outworking of the presence of the Spirit in the life of our church.

 

       Prayers for healing, for ourselves and for others, are important because we become the people of God, we see the good news of the gospel enacted, and we recognise our spiritual poverty and need of God. Praying as a church keeps us humble and hopeful as we bring ourselves and our petitions to God. Prayers for healing – physical, emotional, social and spiritual – can be big or small; even small things matter and can help us to grow in faith to pray for bigger things too.

 

       There are a number of issues which we must also be aware of and sensitive to, when we speak of healing ministry and prayer – I will attempt to name some of those here: whilst confession forms part of the relationship of bringing ourselves before God and receiving forgiveness, it would be an overly simplistic, misunderstanding to simply make a link between sickness and sin; Jesus himself warned against such direct association (John 9:3). In this context, praying with someone can be a powerful witness to God’s healing power, but it should always be consensual; equally, one should never assume, what someone wants/needs prayer for – what one person may assume is an unwanted affliction, another may understand as a continuum and part of their life and purpose in Christ. Most difficult of all, which I will not be able to explain fully here, is the reality and mystery of the times when miraculous healing does not occur, or when one feels that they should stop praying for healing. Miraculous and transformative healing is a wonderful gift of grace; it is, therefore, not something we are simply entitled to, nor is physical restoration the only way that Christ meets our needs. This can leave us feeling all sorts of things – including anger, and a (unwarranted) guilt for our apparent lack of faith. I, myself, have prayed for emotion and physical healing in the past, which has not happened. Yet, speaking for myself, I have grown closer to God, and discovered a greater spiritual wholeness and purpose through that journeying with God. We might not always understand why – but, through prayer and praise, we can draw closer to the eternal God who cares for us deeply, and trust in their faithfulness.


Rev’d Sam Ellmore, curate