John’s Gospel urges believers to express their trust in God’s redemptive acts through prayer (see John 14:11-14). Jesus’ receptivity toward those seeking healing is depicted in many biblical stories as a call to faith for all believers.
The story in John 9 is almost humorous, with the descriptions of the many participants who attempt to deny any involvement with the healed man. This raises a set of provocative questions: Why would people be afraid of this kind of power? Did Jesus’ acts of healing pose a threat to people? If so, what was the nature of the threat?
John 9 also raises another pertinent feature of many healing stories: the kinds of involvements of members of the family and the community who are pleased with Jesus’ healing powers, those who criticize it, and those who resist him.
Planning for Healing Services
Worship planners, both laity and clergy, will want to introduce such a service through different venues like Bible study, parish newsletters and information posted on the church’s website, and should cite pertinent biblical and historical references to healing the ill (see above).
Planning worship as a vehicle for addressing illness can be a powerful experience for both those who plan and those who attend the service. Planning the components of a healing service usually includes:
- Prayer, including confession of sin
- Scripture readings
- Laying on of hands
- Anointing with oil
Scripture readings should be chosen for introducing the service and gearing it toward prayer, focused meditation and proclamation.
The preacher’s goal in a healing service is to invite listeners to focus on a God whose will for people is wholeness. Proclamation should be scripturally based. Secondly, it should be briefer than a Sunday morning sermon. It can also take the form of what some call guided meditation. It should be focused on God’s love and loving purposes with the ill, in a way that can be shared with all those who gather.