Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
O holy Father, Physician of souls and bodies, Who sent Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to heal every infirmity and deliver from death, heal these Your servants from their ailments of body and soul, and endow them with life by the grace of Your Christ, through the intercessions of our all-holy Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary; by the power of the precious and life-giving Cross; the protection of the honored bodiless Powers in Heaven; by the supplications of the honored, glorious Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist; the holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostles; the holy, glorious and victorious Martyrs; our saintly and God-bearing Fathers; the holy Unmercenaries and Healers, Cosmas and Damian, Cyrus and John, Samson and Diomedes, Mokias and Aniketos, Panteleimon and Hermolaos, Thalelaios and Tryphon; of the holy and righteous ancestors of God Joachim and Anna, and of all the Saints. For You, our God, are the source of healing, and to You we ascribe glory; to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prayer of Anointing)
As we approach Holy Week, there will be two Prayer Team messages today, Thursday and Friday, with some helpful thoughts as we prepare for the coming week. Also, on Palm Sunday, Holy Monday and Holy Thursday, there will be an extra reflection.
I have always had a phobia of hospitals, specifically needles, specifically IVs. It’s not a good scene when I have to have a procedure that requires one, and of course, as we get older, the frequency of these procedures tends to increase. Several years ago, I had surgery on my sinuses and was hospitalized and obviously required an IV. As I lay nervously on the bed, awaiting the dreaded IV, I prayed to God and asked Him to give me a thought that would take my mind far away from the hospital bed where I was laying.
The first thought that He brought to my mind was the old dirt track at my high school. I laid there with my eyes closed, and saw myself running around that dirt track. I thought to myself “Why God, would You bring THIS image to my mind? I didn’t like high school, I didn’t like running, and I didn’t like the dirt track.” My “dream” continued. As I continued to run on the track, I heard a voice in the stands saying “you got this.” So I thought, “well, this still stinks that I’m running but at least I’m not alone here. One person is rooting for me.” As my “dream” continued, suddenly there were hundreds of people in the stands cheering for me. And then as the dream continued, all of a sudden the scene opened to a large football stadium with 100,000 fans cheering for me as I was running. All of a sudden the drudgery of running alone on the dirt track was replaced with almost effortless running in a filled stadium of people cheering me on.
As I lay in the bed, trying to focus on this dream that God was putting into my head, rather than the medical people working on me, I thanked God for bringing these thoughts into my head. Despite the good thoughts, I was still the only person in the hospital, laying on the bed. These good thoughts didn’t take away the pain and stress of what I was going through, but somehow made it easier. The thoughts offered a temporary escape from my difficult reality. They helped pass the anxious time and bridge the gap to a better time.
More important, these thoughts that God gave to me helped me understand for the first time ever, the purpose and the power of intercessory prayer. If a person is running down an empty street, they might tire quickly. But if millions of people came out and lined that street and were screaming enthusiastically, that person would continue to run, boosted by the encouragement of those cheering him or her on. There would still only be one person running. However, the running would get easier.
When I think about the power of intercessory prayer, I think of that day in the hospital room. Not only were the saints cheering me on, I had received 300 email messages of support, not just people who were wishing me well, but people who said they were going to take a pause in their day to pray for me.
The Prayer of Anointing reminds us that we are not alone. We have millions of saints and holy people interceding for us in prayer. The saints in this prayer are sometimes known as healing saints. We have many different kinds of saints in our church. These are some of the ones we call upon when we need healing. The saints pray for us. They root for us. They assure us that we are not alone. We may be alone on a bed of pain, or in a mind of anxiety, or in a spirit of sadness. However, we are not alone.
Intercessory prayer is also not limited to the saints. We should be praying for one another. We should be “interceding” for one another. We should be letting one another know that no one is alone.
The prayer specifically asks Christ to heal us from every infirmity and deliver us from death. This is not deliverance from physical death. All of our bodies will eventually die. A spiritual death is estrangement from God. Our prayer is that we will forever be united with God. We pray to be endowed with life. This does not refer necessarily to adding years to our earthly life. Rather it is for us to attain to eternal life. This is made possible, as the prayer says, by the grace of Christ. It is also helped by the intercessions and encouragement of the saints and from one another.
We are never truly alone. We always have the saints who are interceding for us. We should also make a habit of praying for one another, checking in with one another, and reminding one another that no one is truly alone.
The only Pure one, who has enriched the gulf of peace, by your perpetual intercessions to God, deliver your suppliants form infirmities and afflictions, that they may unceasingly magnify you. (1st Ode)
Make sure that no one you know ever feels truly alone. Check in on someone today.