Although I am not invited to attend the Priesthood session of General Conference, I make sure the first talks I view on-line after Conference is over are those I missed. Hence, this week I took some time to study the talk given by Dallin H. Oaks called, Healing the Sick.
In his talk, Elder Oaks spoke about three different modes, or ways, a person could use the powers of healing in their lives. These are:
1) Medical Science
2) Prayers of Faith
3) Priesthood Blessings
He stated, “The use of medical science is not at odds with our prayers of faith and our reliance on priesthood blessings.” I believe that this statement could also be applied more broadly to be viewed with the understanding that science and religion are not at odds either, regardless of what some may think. He continued, “Latter-day Saints believe in applying the best available scientific knowledge and techniques. We use nutrition, exercise, and other practices to preserve health, and we enlist the help of healing practitioners, such as physicians and surgeons, to restore health.”
Specifically referring to prayers of faith, Elder Oaks reinforced the fact that we know that “uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship” prayers of faith can be effective to heal the sick. We have witnessed this even among people of faith in other churches. Faith is the power by which all miracles happen.
Lastly Elder Oaks discussed the use of priesthood authority to bless the sick, breaking it down into five different parts:
1) The Anointing
2) Sealing the Anointing
4) Words of Blessing
5) Will of the Lord
Elder Oaks gave inspired instruction in all these areas. If you have not studied his words I suggest you check them out here.
I was specifically intrigued with the instruction he gave on the anointing. The use of oil in administration and blessing seems to have been a practice from earliest times. Jacob poured oil on the stone he had used for a pillow when he had spiritual manifestations. Oil was used in the anointing of kings. Oil was used as well for the healing of wounds, and in preparation for burial. Latter Day Saints use oil today to anoint and bless in the same manner. The kind of oil that is used for these administrations is “Consecrated Oil”, which is Olive Oil that has been set apart and blessed in the following way:
Consecration of OilOne or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders must consecrate olive oil before it is used to anoint the sick or afflicted. No other oil may be used. To do this, a priesthood holder:
· 2. Addresses Heavenly Father.
· 4. Consecrates the oil (not the container) and sets it apart for anointing and blessing the sick and afflicted.
President Spencer W. Kimball explained, “The administration proper is an ordinance of two parts, the anointing and the sealing. An elder pours a small quantity of oil on the head of the one to be blessed, near the crown of the head if convenient, never on the other parts of the body, and in the name of the Lord and by authority of the priesthood, he anoints the person for the restoration of health. The sealing is performed by two or more elders, one of whom, as mouth, seals the anointing and gives an appropriate blessing, also in the name of Jesus Christ and by authority of the priesthood.”
Studying some of the attributes or properties of oil has given me some insights that I would love to share. If you think about it, when oil is mixed with water it rises to the top. I think of that as a “transcendent” quality. When applied to the crown of the head it helps to draw our thoughts upward, away from our earthly thoughts, allowing us to focus our minds heavenward. In this manner the oil becomes a tool for increasing our faith in Jesus Christ.
Another interesting attribute of oil is that it creates a connection between two things that need to interact. For example, if one uses oil in cooking, the flame becomes connected to the meat through the properties of the oil. Another example would be the connector, or lubricant qualities oil has in the engine of a car. Here the oil acts to facilitate smooth interaction between different parts of the engine, allowing it to function properly. I like to imagine my body as the meat and the flame as the source for a specific “change”, consequently the oil becomes the connector for that process to occur.
In Old Testament times the kings and priests were anointed with oil elevating them above the rest of the people, this was a transcendent process. Conversely they were also set apart to be the connection between God and man. Jesus Christ who is the Messiah, which means anointed one, literally was anointed as the transcended one who would act as the connection between the Father and His children. Both of these characteristics are represented by the use of oil.
Another characteristic of oil is that of a restorative nature. For example, if a piece of wood becomes dry and dull, seemingly lifeless, the application of oil allows the natural wood to shine through again.
The Lord instructed Moses, when setting up the tabernacle to do the following:
Exodus 40:9 And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.
We likewise have fleshy tabernacles that have been anointed to function properly or in other words have been made holy. When we are “out of sorts” in any way, either mentally or physically, we, in essence, need to be made holy, or whole again through the process of becoming hallowed vessels. This process can involve anointing with oil for a restoration of health. Moses’ tabernacle had to be anointed and sanctified, or set apart as holy, before it could function as the vessel where offerings in righteousness were made. Our bodies, when anointed to do so, become useful in the same manner as the tabernacle did, as a place to facilitate offerings in righteousness. I believe the anointing done in a healing blessing is one of a restorative function, allowing us to use our tabernacles for the purpose they were created.
There have been many other observations made by LDS leaders that have helped me to understand the importance of Olive Oil, as it applies to the process of anointing, that point to our Savior Jesus Christ. The oil, being made from Olives, in and of itself, is enough to remind us of the one who suffered at
Gethsemane meaning the “Olive Press”. I bet if we thought about it enough the Spirit would reveal many other aspects of oil that would enlighten and instruct....these are simply a few of the thoughts I was given.