Pastorgraphs: “Balm of Gilead”
April 23, 2012
Is it possible? Could the prayers of a handful of people help someone facing heart surgery, cancer, or any disease?
Research focusing on the power of prayer in healing has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.
Harvard scientist Herbert Benson, MD, conducted studies on prayer. He focused specifically on meditation to understand how mind affects body. “All forms of prayer evoke a relaxation response that quells stress, quiets the body, and promotes healing,” he told WebMD.
Mitchell Krucoff, MD, Duke School of Medicine cardiologist, added, "All of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions."
We are beginning a new ministry at Christ Ministry Center called “Balm of Gilead”. Healing and wholeness involves both the body and the spirit; linking wellness to the best of medical and spiritual care.
Balm of Gilead is a free, personalized ministry to help anyone realize health and wholeness using the Biblical principles of prayer, faith, hope, love, laying on of hands, and anointing with ointment (Balm of Gilead).
At Christ Church, we have had dramatic examples of prayer’s effect on healing. For example, two members diagnosed with advanced (Stage 4) cancer, who received the best medical care available, also received the intense prayers of our congregation. Both are in remission, living full lives years after their poor diagnostic prognosis. There are others; “walking miracles” who are doing better than anyone expected.
From my own journey through prostate cancer, surgery and radiation, I was reminded how important the spiritual aspect was to my healing. I have the best doctors in the world, men of faith! I thank God for them. My insurance company even counseled me to call upon my “inner spirit” to speed the healing process, as studies have proven. It worked.
Will everyone seeking a healing miracle find one? Not necessarily. God in His Wisdom knows what is best for us. But there is scientific evidence prayer does play an important role in healing and wellness. It certainly will not hurt!
A quick background: The land of Gilead, a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, was known for its medicinal balm (ointments) from early Biblical times. Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery to a caravan on its way from Gilead carrying “balm” for trade in Egypt.
An old African-American spiritual puts it into poetic verse.
“There is balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
“There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.”
The hymn points back to Jeremiah 8:22: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (New International Version). So, Balm of Gilead speaks to “spiritual” healing.
Let me tell you what our Balm of Gilead ministry is NOT. It is not hocus pocus, snake oil, and what some have distorted as “faith healing”. It is a “free” outreach of Christ Ministry Center.
Also, this is not just for the “church going” or religious people. It is for both “saints” and “sinners”, whom God loves without bias.
And it is not just for the physically ill. If you have hatred in your heart, an addiction, or anything that is holding you back from the Lord’s blessings, and being healthy in body and soul, we will pray for you. You may have even “given up on God”, but God has not given up on you. He loves you.
The Balm of Gilead ministry is an opportunity for ANYONE to have a minister pray for you, and be upheld in a journey to spiritual wholeness and healing. Church membership or religious affiliation is not required. The goal is not to make more Methodists, but to help folks of all faiths (or no “religion”) achieve health and wholeness in their lives.
Is it just for “the sick”? No, the Balm of Gilead is as much preventative as it is remedial. However, it certainly is appropriate for anyone facing a medical crisis. It is an adjunct to professional medical care. And yes, we make home visits for those who are not well enough to travel. For those outside San Diego, I will be most pleased to extend this ministry to you by phone or the Internet.
What does it involve? We set up an appointment. I will listen to your need and pray for you. Simple as that. For those who desire it, you have options for “laying hands” on your head as I pray, anointing you with Balm of Gilead ointment, and serving you Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper (an often neglected aspect of wellness). Your request may be private between you and me, or with your permission extended to our Gilead Prayer Team. Your privacy will be respected. So, if you want a private, single prayer, that is okay. Otherwise, we will pray for you daily over a set period of time. This may involve a single visit, or if you wish, regular appointments, such as in preparation for an upcoming surgery, as you work toward wellness and wholeness in body and spirit.
Does it cost anything? Only a few minutes of your time and a willingness to let God mend your broken body or spirit. It costs no money.
So I extend an invitation to you, your family, friends and acquaintances. If you are interested in setting up an appointment for personal prayer for your physical and spiritual wellness, please call me (619) 723-1371 or Jeannetta at the church office (619) 284-9205. As this ministry grows, I will be calling upon the Rev. Perry Sproat, who is gifted in this form of ministry, and the pastors of our congregations to join me in the Balm of Gilead ministry.
Bless you, each and every one, Brother Bill
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
From the Quote Garden
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
~ World Health Organization, 1948