A while back I had been in conversation with Henry Neufeld on healthcare and how a Christian would respond to issues of health and end of life. Tonight’s Great Wednesday (Holy Week) service had at the end prayers for Unction, i.e., the health and healing of those in the congregation. The Epistle reading at the end of it was from James 5 (from the ESV):
The Prayer of Faith
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 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. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
From reading this, and the prayers attached to the rest of that section of the service, it seems fairly clear that based on the liturgical prayer and the attached reading above that he prayers and annointing of the sick first and foremost are intended to deal with the afflicted one’s relationship to the Lord. If one takes seriously, as one should if one is of the faithful, that salvation is assured … then this is the right attitude.
How many among us really put this into practice and their life? That is the real question. Look at our brethren in hospitals and our elderly as they approach their end of days. Death should be martyrdom and witness. More and more I’m convinced that witness, confession, and repentance in these times is more important than life support or having access to the the latest and greatest in modern healthcare.