In April conference of 2010 Elder Dallin Oaks spoke to the Priesthood in a talk entitled "Healing the Sick". Right from the start I knew his talk was going to be a classic and knew that every Melchizedek Priesthood holder should read the talk and study what it teaches. And that every wife, mother and daughter should know and understand what he taught as well. He starts out by pointing out three ways of healing the sick. 1. medical science. 2. Prayers of faith. 3. Priesthood blessings.
Of course I am still thinking of Dad who remains in the hospital following another surgery today this time to save his life. The day he fell on his driveway the Priesthood was mustered and two worthy brethren came to give him a blessing in the hospital. He likely wasn't aware of it and to my knowledge there was no one there to hear the blessing other than those two men and possibly some medical personnel.
Dad is getting the benefits of lots of medical science to try and heal him. I am aware of many people in his home state and here in our state who are praying for him. He is on the prayer rolls in at least two temples I would imagine with their numerous prayers with multiple people who are praying for him. Lots of faithful prayers are being said verbally and mentally on his behalf and Mom's I might add. Those prayers, many by people that don't even know them, are petitioning God for the best result possible.
Lisa called the faithful Priesthood holder who was the voice of the Priesthood blessing he received. He reported that his feeling was that Dad would totally heal but that it would be a slow process. With the events of today where Dad approached death according to medical science and thus needed the additional surgery turned my thoughts to that blessing. That blessing is comforting and possibly those feelings that he had came from Heavenly Father.
Elder Oaks states regarding the faith required for a blessing to have effect: "The major element is the faith of the individual when that person is conscious and accountable". Of course Dad wasn't conscious. Elder Oaks doesn't address what happens in this case but I wonder if the families faith doesn't become a major part of it's effectiveness. He further points out that the words of the healing blessing is not one of the essential elements. That regardless of the words spoken that the elements of "the anointing, the sealing, faith, and the will of the Lord" are the essential parts. He further indicates that in my words "the will of the Lord" is the element that trumps all the others. Even with the anointing, adequate faith by the person or possibly all those concerned, and even with positive words of comfort and healing, these are inadequate to heal someone without the Lord's will indicating that the healing is right for their individual circumstance. So in the end it comes down to the will of the Lord after all we can do.
So while Dad lies there unconscious and we fearfully contemplate what life would be like without him and pensively consider what life will be like for him and others if he survives and heals toward recovery, all still depends on the will of the Lord. Our prayers, our faith, our love for God and Dad will not heal him unless the Lord wills it. Probably all of us are too emotionally involved to have a good chance of grasping what the Lord's will is in this case, so regardless of what His will is we must have faith and do the works of righteousness as if all depended on us.
I think about why it is necessary to do what we can (faith, prayers, going to the doctor, Priesthood blessings) when our contribution is not the major determinant of the outcome. I suspect that in the end there is some great benefit that comes from participating even though sometimes our part may seem small. For example many of us have participated in prayers in the temple for those on the prayer roll. Just that little bit of service turns our hearts that much more away from being prone to selfishness and softening them to be more prone to selflessness. I suspect that there are other benefits in this as well.
In James 5:15 it says: "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." I'm uncertain who the "him" is in the verse. Will the Lord raise up the sick person and forgive his sins or the person praying in faith? Or both? Either way I want to be a part of that.