Bishop Bob spoke on the Ministry of Healing in all its aspects.
We looked at the words we use and what is meant by the Ministry of Healing.
We need to find the ‘point of need’ of the person coming for healing, that might
not be the first thing they come for or ask for.
Acts of kindness are part of healing.
We listened to stories that bought to life our understanding of this ministry.
He attempted to answer the hard questions of life and death – why me…?
The worship was lead quietly and reverently.
We bought our needs and those of others to God through the lighted candle, written
words, contemplative meditation, stones and silence.
The members who attended the 2009 retreat with Bob (centre below wall plaque)
To pray for healing
This topic arose from the 2008 retreat when several people asked about healing.
Bishop Bob led us gently through the growth of the healing ministry to which many
laity are called. “Healing is not always physical,” said the Bishop, “it can be
a healing of the memories, guilt, pain, reconciliation, past events etc. and as Christians
we are all called to this ministry and have the gift of healing. Not everyone is
called to lay hands on others and pray for healing, but we can all visit, pray for,
be alongside others in need.”
During the retreat there were opportunities for individuals to receive healing prayer
and during the final Eucharist all of us were anointed with oil for healing. There
will also be times when we need healing and prayer and we must be willing to acknowledge
and accept it.
There are many stories of Jesus healing in the Gospels. Jesus met people where they
were regardless of who they were and He did not judge them – the blind beggar, Peter’s
mother-in-law, the centurion’s daughter, the man among the tombs, etc. The healing
is not isolated, it occurs with teaching, mixing socially, forgiving sins, and walking
along the road with friends. Jesus sent His disciples out with power and authority
to overcome demons and to cure diseases (Luke 9:1 – 2).
The point of need is not always expressed. James 5: 14 – 15 extols us to pray in
faith and it is the Lord who heals (not us). The Communion Service has always offered
peace to many and often brings tears as God’s peace is felt. Healing is also a ministry
for the ordained – it’s mentioned in their service of ordination.
There is no point in talking about healing and doing nothing or praying for healing
if you don’t believe it will happen. Often we never know what happens unless we
are told. It may be a healing, but not a physical healing that happens. In Mark
10: 46 – 52, Jesus heals Bartimaeus who is convinced that He will heal him.
During the Service that night we all lit a candle for someone who needs healing and
prayed for that person as we put the candle on the tray of sand.
We also discussed why we need to pray when Jesus knows our thoughts before we pray?
(Without prayer we can do nothing.) Why should some be healed and not others? (Jesus
prayer in Gethsemane was not answered and He went to the cross)
Be as persistent as the man who woke his neighbour during the night asking for bread.
Do not be afraid to shout at God. The four friends who let their friend down through
the roof to be healed showed their faith in Jesus and gave Him the opportunity to
speak to the crowd. They are often overlooked. We had to imagine we were the stretcher
bearers bringing our friend to Jesus, or were we on the stretcher?
The prayer of Absolution in the Blue 1982 book is very good to use. During the service
we wrote the names of those we wanted to pray for on paper and put them on the altar
and at the end of the service we each took a prayer request to pray for during the
retreat and when we got back home.
Healing services are more common now. Before starting, we need to make proper preparations.
The Vestry needs to approve it in principle, to consider who might be called to
this ministry and to organize teaching about healing. In which service would it
would be offered? Communion? Which part?
During one of the services, we all took a stone that we felt resembled us and placed
it on the altar (see the picture above). After the service, we each took a stone
(not ours) and were asked to pray for that (unknown) person and take it to church
on Sunday and place in the church grounds.
It was a time of learning and confirming our parts in praying for healing and gave
us much to pray about.
To find out more, it is well worth reading “Where earth and Heaven Meet” by Robert
A Gillies (I’m sure you can borrow a copy from those who went on Retreat).