This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Why does the Assemblies of God follow the practice of laying hands on the sick and anointing them with oil? What greater purpose does this offer over regular prayer?
Laying hands on the sick was a common practice in the Early Church. Jesus often laid hands on people before healing them (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40; 13:13). Paul laid hands on a sick person and he was healed (Acts 28:8). Jesus said concerning His followers, "they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well" (Mark 16:18).
Anointing with oil for many different purposes was commonly practiced throughout the Scriptures. The New Testament mentions it specifically in connection with praying for the sick. On one occasion Jesus sent out the twelve disciples on a mission; they "anointed many sick people with oil and healed them" (Mark 6:13). In a congregational situation, the usual procedure is for a sick Christian to call for the elders of the church to pray over him and to anoint him with oil (James 5:14-16).
In biblical times oil was commonly used as a healing agent (Luke 10:34). But when used by the early Christians for anointing purposes it was merely a symbolic reminder to God’s healing power. Today as then, the anointing oil itself has no healing power. Healing takes place by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38), of whom oil is a symbol (Zechariah 4:4-6).
In the Assemblies of God we believe neither the laying on of hands nor anointing with oil is indispensable for healing, for often in Scripture healing takes place without either. But at times the touch of a praying person and the application of oil are an encouragement to faith, and such a practice is enjoined by Scripture (James 5:14-16).
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in Statement of Fundamental Truths, Section 12.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.