Chapter XV

The Appointed Day and Disappointment

At last the appointed day came, and with it the friends who were to pray for me. Brother Catchpole, his wife, and Mr. Berg stood beside my bed and talked to me for a few moments before the prayer. Mr. Berg said: “Do you mind telling us what promise you have chosen to stand upon?” “Oh, I have not only chosen one, but a number, for I thought if one promise was good, a number would surely be better.” Then someone in the room laughingly remarked, “that’s the way she has been about her medicine; she always thought if one pill was good, three ought to be better, and if one teaspoonful of medicine was helpful, four surely would do the work.” “But, I said, “these promises are all different; you’ll see.” I had chosen Exodus 15:26: “For I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Psalm 103:3: “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” Mark 9:23: “And Jesus said unto them, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” James 5:14–15: “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord 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.”

Now it was rather strange that I had chosen that last promise, for I had never seen anyone anointed; it had never been a custom in my own church and I had never met anyone personally who practiced the custom. But I pinned a great deal of faith upon this passage because it said: “If any among you are sick, let them call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil.” I felt that this was such a detailed prescription, set forth so definitely, that I knew just how to proceed; I felt also that I had all the ingredients for this prescription: First, the verse said, “If any among you are sick,” and I was surely sick. Second, it commanded: “let him call for the elders of the church,” and here were two elders; two ministers of the gospel. Third, it said: “and let them anoint him with oil”; I also had the oil ready. And the fourth ingredient? “The prayer of faith”; and I surely felt if any one could pray—that Mr. Berg could. In reference to this passage in the fifth of James—I knew, as a Bible student, that the book of James was written long after Christ’s ascension, so it could not be said that it was written just for Christ’s day; but that it was written for a well-organized church after Christ had left this earth, it was an ordinance for any church today.

“I am ready now,” I said, and quoted the promises just mentioned. Brother and Sister Catchpole reached over and laid their hands on me while Brother Catchpole quoted some passages of Scripture. There was a deep hush in the room, for every one seemed to feel a solemnity and responsibility upon them. Then Brother Catchpole anointed me upon the head and quoted James 5:14–15, at my request. Then Mr. Berg prayed “the prayer of faith:, and truly it was a prayer of faith. I believe there are only a few times in a life that we ever hear such a prayer. It was not a stilted, formal affair, I can assure you, for he simply “talked” to the Lord, telling Him that we had put our all on the altar, and sought only His will; and now there was nothing more to be done, but to depend absolutely upon Him and expect Him to keep His Word. There was a finality about the prayer, decisiveness, and utter committal that simply closed the matter, and seemingly left the Lord with nothing else to do. In fact the prayer startled me just a little. It seemed to have a note in it that would correspond to that verse of Scripture that says, “Command thou me.” I had been pleading and begging the Lord, and to hear some one apparently walk right up to the gate of Heaven and say: “You said you had a parcel for me and I have come for it,” rather amazed me. But there was such a sweet earnestness and childlike faith about it all that I was sure the Lord would understand. (I have perfectly understood it since, myself.) I strained to see Mr. Berg’s face as he prayed, but as I have told you, I was fast going stone-blind and could see only the dim outline, but the prayer that I heard touched the depths of my heart, and I did not see how God could help but answer. I was depending on Mr. Berg’s faith.

I was so weary with the extra exertion of having guests in the room, that I was left alone for a while to rest; in fact I was perfectly exhausted from trying to work up a great big faith to meet the occasion. I still had the idea that faith was some big thing that must be presented to the Lord in just the right way—like a bundle perfectly wrapped, tied, and delivered at exactly the right moment. When it was all over, as I have said exhausted with the effort, a real fear came to my heart, for I felt somehow that my faith had not been quite big enough; that it had not been built up to quite the pitch necessary to meet the demand. You see, I was looking down at my faith, and not up at the Promises of God. I was expecting something from my poor self, and my expectation was not all from Him.

The appointed day had come and gone: the expected prayer had been offered; I had obeyed the Scripture, but nothing had happened. Instead of being better, if anything, I was worse. In fact, a couple of hours later it seemed as if I should slip over the brink; for I would have you know, though I have spoken of these days of preparation, conversations, visitors, etc., yet my condition was unchanged. I was just as helpless and more so. I could only whisper very faintly; in fact my eyes, lips, and right arm were the only parts of my body that I could move with any freedom. As I thought of my horrible condition, and saw that I was no better, hopes began to die, bitter disappointment and sorrow gripped my heart; I wept bitterly.