“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” –Psalm 23:5, TNIV
Before I was appointed at Resurrection, I was not very familiar with the practice of anointing someone with oil. However, here I have found that it is a common practice and I have made it a part of my common practice.
When I am visiting someone before surgery, I will anoint their head with oil in the sign of the cross. After conversation with the individual and others in the room, I will read scripture – usually from Psalm 23 – anoint the person having surgery on her or his forehead in the sign of the cross and pray for healing. After I finish reading the scripture passage I say, “Oil has been used in the Old and New Testaments as a sign of God’s presence and for healing.” It also helpful that Psalm 23 mentions one’s head being anointed with oil.
Another occasion in which oil is used at Resurrection is at baptism. After the water has been used, the pastor will anoint the head of the person who has been baptized as another sign of God’s seal on the person.
Oil will also be used at occasions of prayer – for a particular need or for someone seeking guidance. Again placing oil on the thumb or finger and making the sign of the cross while saying the words “(name), I anoint you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Then entering into prayer with the individual.
I have found that this practice has been one that has added meaning and significance to a time of prayer.