“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church
We Believe in the Gift of Healing
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“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church….”[i] Our commission in the Melchizedek Priesthood is the same that Jesus gave to his apostles when he sent them forth to serve: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”[ii] That same authority with its commission has been restored to the earth. Elder Matthew Cowley related the following healing incident:
I was down on the Indian reservation when I met a sister who had just joined the Church, a beautiful Navajo woman…After I had met this sister, one of the missionaries called me off to the side and said, "A few months ago my companion and I went into a hogan and that lady, that Indian sister, was lying on the ground on a sheepskin. She had been lying there for six long years. We called on her, and when we were leaving she called us back and said in broken English, 'Isn't there something you do for sick people?' And we said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Please do it for me.' So they got down on their knees and administered to her, by the authority of the priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they left, and they weren't away fifty yards when she came out of the hogan after them and said, ‘Come back and see what you have done for me.’ She walked.[iii]
Oliver B. Huntington related this account of Joseph Smith:
Soon after Joseph settled in Kirtland, members of the Church began to gather to that place. The name of Joseph Smith and his power with God aroused everybody either for good or for bad. Mrs. John Johnson, who lived at the town of Hiram, forty miles distant from Kirtland, heard of the wonderful man that could receive revelations from God, heal the sick and see angels. She had a stiff arm that she wanted healed and made useful like the other, so she induced her husband to take a journey to Kirtland to see the Prophet. Joseph asked her if she believed that God could make him instrumental in healing her arm which had been stiff a long time. She answered that she believed her arm could be healed. The Prophet only remarked that he would visit her the next day. The next day Joseph came to Bishop Newel K. Whitney's home where Mr. Johnson and his wife were staying. There were a Campbellite doctor and a Methodist preacher in the room. He took Mrs. Johnson by the hand and without sitting down or standing on ceremonies, and after a very short mental prayer, pronounced her arm whole in the name of Jesus Christ. He left the house immediately. When he was gone, the preacher asked if her arm was well. She immediately stretched out her arm straight, remarking at the same time, ‘It's as well as the other.’”[iv]
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “Ordinances of administration with actual healings resulting therefrom are one of the evidences of the divinity of the Lord’s work.”[v] Healing the sick was an essential part of Jesus’ ministry.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people…and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.[vi]
Clearly, there was no affliction that did not yield when it encountered the Lord’s command. As representatives of Jesus Christ, we commissioned to do the work of Jesus Christ.
The Prophet Joseph Smith set the latter-day example. After being expelled from Missouri, the Saints huddled in Illinois when cholera struck their camp. Soon the devastating sickness had enveloped the Saints and death began sweeping through their ranks. The Prophet deeply pondered the situation then acted. Wilford Woodruff wrote the following account:
On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, [the Prophet] arose reflecting upon the situation of the Saints of God in their persecutions and afflictions. He called upon the Lord in prayer, and the power of God rested mightily upon him. And as Jesus healed all the sick around Him in His day, so Joseph, the Prophet of God, healed all around on this occasion. He healed all in his house and dooryard, then, in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the Twelve, he went through among the sick lying on the bank of the river, and he commanded them in a loud voice, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come up and be made whole, and they were all healed.
When he healed all that were sick on the east side of the river, they crossed the Mississippi River to Montrose, where we were. The first house they went into was President Brigham Young's. He was sick on his bed at the time. The Prophet went into his house and healed him, and they all came out together. As they were passing by my door, Brother Joseph said, “Brother Woodruff, follow me.”
These were the only words spoken by any of the company from the time they left Brother Brigham's house till we crossed the public square and entered Brother Elijah Fordham's house. Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute would be his last.
I felt the power of God that was overwhelming His prophet. When we entered the house, Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham and took him by the right hand; in his left hand he held his hat.
He saw that Brother Fordham's eyes were glazed, and that he was speechless and unconscious.
After taking hold of his hand, the Prophet looked down into the dying man's face and said, "Brother Fordham, do you not know me?"
At first he made no reply; but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him.
Joseph again said, "Elijah, do you not know me?"
With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, "Yes.