I feel so inadequate when it comes to praying for other people. And God so often places us in situations for the specific reason of overcoming the things we fear. Thus, I find myself in the most amusing of positions in our church, where it’s expected of me that when someone needs prayer for healing or whatever, I am one of many who are expected to step in and lead.
Gee, thanks God!
It’s not that I don’t LIKE to pray for people. I do, really. I pray with groups of friends, I pray when an ambulance passes me with its lights on, I pray for my kids, my husband, and our families. That’s no problem. But when I have to pray on demand for someone that I probably don’t even know, I get a little bit of stage fright and usually end up praying some dumb useless prayer and trying not to sound “churchy”.
But the worst part of it all is the oil.
Last Sunday at church, the invitation was made to stand for prayers of healing and doggone it, a lady stood up a few seats over from me. Usually I just ignore the nudge and wait for someone else to go pray, but I knew this time I had to do it.
So I did.
I walked over and shakily asked if there was anything specific she needed prayer for. (More like, “Please throw me a bone so that I don’t have to issue a generic prayer cuz I really suck at those!”) Thankfully she gave me something specific and away I went. Just as my 30 second prayer was over, I looked up and realized everyone else was doing the 10 minute prayer.
But I’m all outta words!
I was saved by another woman as she walked up to take over. Now all I had to do was listen and jump in if something struck me.
But joy of all joys, the anointing oil was being passed around. And if there is anything worse than praying on command, it’s knowing what to do with the anointing oil. So I closed my eyes tight, hoping they would give it to the other girl praying with me.
I waited, and waited, trying to look intense in my prayers so as not to be disturbed. But lo and behold, I felt a little tap on my arm and staring me right in the face is a gigantic bottle of Costco olive oil.
I stuck out my finger (the index, not the naughty one) and got a dab of oil. Which is exactly when the panic hit.
Now what do I do with my oily finger?
Do I draw a cross on her forehead, do I dab some between her eyebrows? I mean what is the protocol for anointing? Nobody ever sent me to “Oil Of God 101” so I’m really winging it here. There I stand with a glob of olive oil dangling from my finger and I’m not quite sure what to do with it.
So I faked it.
I started with a dot on her forehead and as if that wasn’t enough I decided halfway through that it should be a cross. I was almost ready to spell her name out in oil on her forehead before I realized I better stop soon because I’m running out of oil and I don’t want my finger to make a dry squeak across her face.
And wonder of wonders, she didn’t laugh. And I didn’t laugh. And best of all she didn’t act like I did anything wrong.
So I’m just going to consider this a successfully artistic anointing and next time I’m sticking to the dot…..or the cross…I guess it depends on how creative I'm feeling that day.