Q. There are a lot of pastors who dip their finger in some holy oil and then lay hands on people. This oil is sold and advertised on TV. The Bible says we have to pray and heal the sick in the name of Jesus only. When the use of oil is questioned, these pastors answer by saying in the book of James 5:14 we are instructed to lay hands on the sick and anoint them with oil. Is this verse being applied correctly? Does the usage of oil in this verse have supernatural effect or medicinal effect?
A. Anointing oil doesn’t have any supernatural or medicinal value. Its use is symbolic. It’s meant to demonstrate that the person we’re praying for is being set apart for a divine purpose. The Lord had Moses anoint Aaron to set him apart as the High Priest (Exodus 29:7). Later He had Samuel anoint David as the King of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13).
Mark 6:13 tells of the disciples anointing many sick people with oil and healing them. In this case the anointing was to set the person apart for divine healing. Using oil to anoint a person being prayed for is a proper application of James 5:14.
You can purchase a small vial of anointing oil in most Christian book stores for a reasonable price. Some of these actually come from the Holy Land and use a mixture of local olive oil and spices mentioned in the Bible.
Many believers who frequently pray for people carry anointing oil with them when they go to church or some other meeting where the opportunity to pray for someone could present itself. We should all cultivate the habit of being available to pray for those who ask for it, and carrying some anointing oil with us is our way of being prepared.