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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – Healing, 1922

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood Healing, 1922.” You can view other years here.

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1922:    Oct.:  On dedicating the sick and suffering to the Lord.

“Questions have been asked as to what extent the custom prevails among the elders of the Church of dedicating the very sick, or the suffering, to the Lord when they are administered to, thus presumably giving them up to death.  The question is further as to the extent or advisability of this custom.  The First Presidency have considered the matter, and in a letter to one inquirer say:

The custom which is growing in the Church to dedicate those who appear to be beyond recovery, to the Lord, has no place among the ordinances of the Church.  The Lord has instructed us, where people are sick, to call in the elders, two or more, who should pray for and lay their hands upon them in the name of the Lord; and ‘if they die,’ says the Lord, ‘they shall die unto me; and if they live, they shall live unto me.’  No possible advantage can result from dedicating faithful members of the Church to the Lord prior to their death.  Their membership in the Church, their devotion to the faith which they have expoused, are sufficient guarantee, so far as their future welfare is concerned.

The administration of the ordinances of the Gospel to the sick, is for the purpose of healing them, that they may continue lives of usefulness until the Lord shall call them hence.  This is as far as we should go.  If we adhere strictly to that which the Lord has revealed in regard to this matter, no mistake will be made.

Plain and instructive information on how to deal with the sick is also given of the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 42:43-48.”

(“Editor’s Table,” IE 22(12):1122-1123, Oct., 1922)

29 Oct.:  Administration to self.

“I will relate another experience I had on the islands: A native woman sent for us.  She had a sick child, and she told us she had had a vision wherein she had seen three men dressed in white come to her and lay hands on her child, and the child recovered.  She had asked the Lord where she was to find these men and she had been directed to us.  We were on a small island a few miles away, and she sent a native in a canoe for us; and when he told us of his errand, we hesitated at first.  We were having some trouble at that time with the authorities of the islands so we were a little undecided what to do.  If we laid our hands on the child and he died, we would likely be blamed.  However, we administered to the child and went our way.  Two years later I met this woman again.  She was the daughter of the Head Chief of the Island, and she was a most beautiful woman.  She was delignted to see me and wanted to hear everything about the Church.  She said that her child had been healed under our ministration, which was a testimony that the Lord was with the elders of our Church.  About this time I was bitten by a centipede, which is one of the deadliest of wounds.  My arm became swollen and it was very painful.  I thought for a moment my time had come.  This woman came to me and asked why I did not do to my hand what I had done for her child.  I immediately annointed my hand with oil and the swelling left.”  (Edward J. Wood, President of the Alberta Stake; Canadian Genealogical Convention, held at Magrath, Alberta, Canada, 29 Oct., 1922; UGHM 14:26-27, Jan., 1923)

1923:  7 Apr.:  When do you call the doctor?

“I would like to call your attention, since mention has been made of it, to another item.  We believe in anointing the sick with oil, and praying over them.  At the same time we are not fanatics.  We believe in faith and works.  We recognize the skill of the physician as the wisdom of the Lord, and we are willing to employ it, but to employ it in connection with blessings we seek at the hands of the Lord in his appointed way.  We do not want the Latter-day Saints to forget that there is a privilege they enjoy to seek the Lord for blessings that may be had through their faith; and often, I believe, we could save ourselves expense and sickness and trouble if we would exercise our faith a little more.  Not that I would ban the use of medicine, properly applied, nor the skill of the physician, but we do not want to forget what the Lord has offered to us; and if it were computed–all that has been saved through the ministration on the part of the elders in the Church in relieving the sick, in saving them and in saving those who would naturally have to pay the bill if physicians had to do the work to bring to pass the restoration to health–it would amount to a tremendous sum, not to say anything of the relief to sufferers.  That principle alone would put the Latter-day Saints head and shoulders above any other community.”  (Melvin J. Ballard, 7 Apr., 1923; CR Apr., 1923, p. 58)

1925:  4 Apr.:  Healing self-administered.

“Not long afterwards, I was visiting a family of Saints in the coal-mining region near the town of Akron.  A married daughter of the household came trudging through a snow storm, with her two little children, a distance of three miles, to get me to baptize her.  I did so, the immersion taking place in a little brook running through her father’s lot.  It was February, and the weather was extremely cold.  The moment I stepped into the icy stream a pain shot up to my heart, and I feared for a moment that I would have to step out again.  I feared also that the little woman would not be able to endure it.  So I silently prayed that the water might be tempered.  Immediately there was a change in it–or else in me, for I felt the cold no more, nor did she complain of it at all.

The baptism over, she went on her way rejoicing.  But I was in distress.  A pain had seized me in the elbow of my left arm, and it steadily grew worse.  That evening I used some liniment upon it, but got no relief, and my arm continued to swell and stiffen.  I could hardly move it next day, but by that time I knew just what to do.  There was some consecrated oil in the house, but my green inexperience had made me think that it would be improper to use it on myself, there being no other elder present.  But suffering had opened my eyes, and my faith was strong, for I felt that the pain had no business there.  That night I carefully washed off the liniment, applied the holy oil, and rebuked the pain in the name of Jesus.  The effect was instantaneous.  I turned my arm over–the pain was gone; and I have never felt a vestige of it since.”  (Orson F. Whitney, 4 Apr., 1925; CR Apr., 1925, pp. 20-21)

1927:  3 Apr.:  My wife promised me, in tongues, I would live.

“I wish to say to you that my wife, who is dead, promised me, by the gift of tongues, that I should live to proclaim this gospel in many lands and in many climes, and after she passed away, and at a time when eight doctors out of nine said I had to die, I had not then proclaimed this gospel ‘in many lands and in many climes,’ but I recovered, and since then I have lifted up my voice in the far-off land of Japan, in the Hawaiian Islands, in England, Ireland, Schtland, Wales, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and Mexico.”  (Heber J. Grant, 3 Apr., 1927; CR Apr., 1927, p. 18)

1928:  12 Jun.:  Administered to by female temple worker.

“I went to the temple to do work for the dead, met Zina Young Card.  In my distress of mind, I asked her for another blessing, as I knew that the words of a blessing she gave my Sister Olive previous to her first Caesarean operation had been literally fulfilled.  She said, ‘Why come to me, when you have been to Patriarch Smith,’ and told me to come the next day [13 Jun.].  Then she blessed me with almost the same words as Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith used, but added ‘anoint the hard lump every day with olive oil, and tell no one.'”  (Flora Belnap autobiography, LC Collection)

Blessings to sick should be made conditional.

“In the performing of this ordinance the head of the sick person should first be anointed with oil by one of the brethren with the accompanying brief prayer, followed by the sealing blessing pronounced by one or the other.  All blessings and promises made to a sick person should, in general, be sealed upon them according to their faith.”  (Handbook of Instructions for Bishops and Counselors, Stake and Ward Clerks, No. 14, 1928, p. 74)

1931:  Feb.:  Insufficient faith had been exercised?

“Upon one occasion I heard Apostle Marriner W. Merrill say he felt almost rebellious when his oldest son was taken from him by death in the vigor of manhood.  Brother Merrill was spending his time in the Logan Temple.  He had a large family and this son had charge of a merchantile business belonging to his father and the family.  He also had several good farms and this son handled all of his father’s affairs, a man of great executive ability.  Brother Merrill said that while sitting in his house upon one occasion, almost rebellious in his feelings because this boy’s life was not spared to him and that sufficient faith had not been exercised in administering to him while sick, he heard his son’s voice as clearly as he had ever heard it while he was alive, and he said, ‘Father, it is very displeasing to our Heavenly Father for you to be mourning over my death.  I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be and doing work that is of far greater importance than the work I would have done had I remained on earth.  It is for you to be reconciled to the fact that I am where my Father in Heaven wants me to be.'”  (Heber J. Grant, “Comforting Manifestations–Excerpts from Funeral Sermon delivered recently,” IE 34(4):189, Feb., 1931)

1935:  5 Apr.:  The adversary’s decree rebuked.

“When I was a young man presiding over the Tooele stake of Zion, the patriarch of that stake blessed my little baby, who was then six months old, and promised her that she should live to become a mother; that she should live to become one of the leaders of her sisters.  Subsequently when she was in a dying condition from diphtheria, a spiritualistic medium decreed her death.  Thank God for the priesthood that is upon the earth and the authority of that priesthood.  George Q. Cannon and Hiram B. Clawson being in Washington at the time, I sent for them to come and administer to my little girl, who, as I recall it, was then between twelve and thirteen years of age, and they promised her that she should live and become a mother; and George Q. Cannon said something I had never heard before, neither have I heard it since.

He said:

The adversary, the destroyer, has decreed your death, and made public announcement of it, but by the authority of the priesthood of the living God that we hold we rebuke that decree and promise you life.

I thought time and time again of that remarkable statement.  The day that I was to leave Washington, the lady who kept the boarding house where we were staying was away and her husband was in charge.

He said:

Mr. Grant, I cannot resist the temptation to tell you that when your children became sick my wife visited her medium–she believes in spiritualistic mediums–and her medium told her that she saw in her home two little girls; that the older one was taken sick nigh unto death; that the next little girl was taken sick and was nigh unto death.  She finally saw the older girl recover, then she saw the little girl die, and she saw her body taken to a railroad station; she saw it taken on a train through many large cities, and stop in a large city, and change cars.  She saw it cross a large river {you all know that one has to cross the Mississippi river to come here} she saw it pass through some more cities and cross another large river, and then travel through a sparsely settled country.  {Forty years ago the country west of the Missouri was rather sparsely settled.}

She then saw the train climbing mountains, mountains, mountains, going west all the time.  She then saw it go south for a short distance {from Ogden to Salt Lake of course}.  She then saw it stop in a valley almost completely surrounded by mountains, and then the body was taken to the hill side and deposited in the grave.

Thank God for the power of the priesthood that rebuked the decree of the adversary, which decree had been made public.”  (Heber J. Grant, 5 Apr., 1935; CR Apr., 1935, p. 12)

1936:  Oct.:  Cleanliness, sanitation, faith, and skill.

“Before we talk about the healing of the sick, we should have something to say about avoiding sickness, and here are a few ‘don’ts.’

DON’T run into sickness–keep away from contagion.

DON’T overeat.  There are many more people in this country who over-eat, than there are who under-eat.  Here is some good advice from President Brigham Young:

The Americans as a nation are killing themselves with their vices and high living.  As much as a man ought to eat in half an hour, they swallow in three minutes.  If you want a reform, carry out the advice I have just given you.  Dispense with your multitudinous dishes, and, depend upon it, you will do much toward preserving your families from sickness, disease, and death.

DON’T indulge in stimulants.  Leave out of your diet tea, coffee, and other narcotics–briefly–keep the Word of Wisdom.

DON’T neglect the principles of sanitation and cleanliness in the home and in the person.  The Lord expects us to be clean.

Then, if after all you can do, or have done, you become sick, use practical common sense in trying to get at the cause of your sickness.  Old-fashioned mothers used to break up many an illness with some simple home remedies.  If your ailments don’t respond to such treatments as you know how to apply, then do not delay too long before you get the advice of some competent person, for, let us remember this, we are entitled to the assistance of those who are skilled and wise in the treatment of diseases.  Remember to take the advice of the Lord in the revelations, and see that the sick are ‘nourished with all tenderness, with herbs, and mild food.’

Early in our troubles we should seek the elders of the Church, to have the aid of prayer in administration, in intervention with our Heavenly Father.  If the head of the house has authority, he should call in some to assist him, and together they should administer to the sick person.  If there is no elder in the home, then invite some neighbors who have the Priesthood, or make your desires known to the bishop, and he will see that assistance comes to you.

Have faith in the Priesthood and in the Lord.  As much, or more perhaps, depends upon your faith as upon theirs.  Live so that you are worthy of the blessings of the Lord, and then you may be sure that he will hear your prayers, and answer them according to his wisdom:

But with all your faith, we cannot expect to stop the course of nature, or oppose the will of Him who knows what is best for us.  People will continue to die, no matter what we do for them, but we have this promise, that if we do our duty, ‘if they die, they die unto the Lord, and their death is sweet.’

Let us be reasonable and practical in all these things, remembering that the blessings of the Lord are predicated only upon our obedience to law, and that the laws of nature will always operate unless set aside by superior law, and that the intervention of our Heavenly Father cannot be invoked with success, except by those who have faith in Him.”  (“Ward Teaching–The Healing of the Sick,” conducted under the supervision of the Presiding Bishopric, Edited by John D. Giles; IE 39(10):626, Oct., 1936)

1937:  Apr.:  Outside one’s own ward or stake.

“Recently the question arose whether or not a man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, and who was known to be in good standing in the Church, should be called upon to administer to the sick outside of his own ward and stake, or whether it was necessary always to call upon some brother whose standing was within the particular stake.  The answer to this and other important questions pertaining to the exercise of the authority of Priesthood, is given in the following article by President Joseph F. Smith and published originally in the Instructor, January 15, 1902:

[quotes 1902 article].”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 40(4):242, Apr., 1937)

1939:  6 Oct.:  I couldn’t bless him to live.

“While working in the field with my father when I was a mere lad, I received one of the greatest testimonies that ever came to me, and that through the giving of a patriarchal blessing.  My father related to us three boys, who were engaged with him in filling up an old cellar, a visit he had made the night before to administer a patriarchal blessing, and after he had taken his hands from the head of the brother blessed, some disappointment was expressed that Father had not promised him that he should get well and live, because he was very sick.  Father related this experience to us, and if there had been no inspiration in this Church, and no inspiration in the calling of a patriarch, where would the faith of his boys be today?  He said when he placed his hands upon the head of this brother, something seemed to say to him that he shoiuld not give him too good a blessing for this life, for his days were numbered.  So he promised him the blessing of eternal life for his faithfulness, and then disappointment was expressed, and the voice of inspiration came again, and he said: ‘If I am inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, Brother So-and-so will not live more than so many hours,’ and he told us the time.

While we were still working together a good brother passed along the old hedge fence.  Father called to him and asked if he knew how Brother So-and-so was.  He said he had passed away.  Father asked the hour and he told us.  The Father looked at us, because it was the exact time he had told us.”  (LeGrand Richards, 6 Oct., 1939; CR Oct., 1939, pp. 24-25)

1940:    Sep.:  Who should request administration to the sick?

“Administration should be made at the request of the sufferer or someone vitally concerned, so that it may be done in answer to faith.  One of the elders called in should pour oil on the crown of the head and anoint the sick person and while anointing pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ for the restoration of the health of the sick brother or sister, but he should not seal the anointing.  Oil for this anointing should be pure olive oil which has been consecrated for the purpose.  Giving consecrated oil internally is not a part of the administration and should not be done.”  (Handbook of Instructions for Stake Presidencies, Bishops and Counselors, Stake and Ward Clerks and Other Church Officers, No. 16, 1940, p. 125)

Sep.:  Sealing the anointing.

“Two or more elders shall lay their hands on the head of the sick person, after he or she has been anointed, and one of these elders shall be voice in the sealing of the anointing.  After sealing the anointing, the one speaking may add such blessing upon the head of the sick person as the Spirit of the Lord may dictate, doing all in the name of Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood.  It is permissible, if the Spirit of the Lord should indicate that it should be done, for the brethren to kneel in prayer before the administration, but this is not an essential part of the ordinance of administering to the sick.”  (Handbook of Instructions for Stake Presidencies, Bishops and Counselors, Stake and Ward Clerks and Other Church Officers, No. 16, 1940, p. 125)

Sep.:  Consecration of oil.

“Olive oil is consecrated before it is used to anoint the sick.  A good grade of pure olive oil should be secured, and those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood should set it apart for its holy purposes.

There is no set form for consecrating oil, though it would appear that the consecration is intended for both the anointing and the healing of the sick.  The ordinance should be performed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and such words should be used as are consistent with what is being asked for.  We should remember that the oil should be consecrated, dedicated and set apart for holy purposes, to be used in the household of faith, for the healing of the sick (or for the anointing of the sick).  Both phrases may be used with propriety.  It should be remembered, however, that it is the prayer of faith that saves the sick, and the Lord who raises them up, not the oil, though we are commanded to anoint with oil, in the name of the Lord.  Consecrated oil should not be used indiscriminately or comingled with other ointments.”  (Handbook of Instructions for Stake Presidencies, Bishops and Counselors, Stake and Ward Clerks and Other Church Officers, No. 16, 1940, pp. 125-126)

1946:  Apr.:  Sealing the anointing.

“Question 50:  A few Sundays ago we were giving a demonstration in our quorum on how to administer to the sick.  After the individual had been anointed, one of the brethren officiating in the ceremony said, ‘We seal the anointing.’  Another of our members raised the question as to whether it is proper to use the word ‘seal’ outside of the temple.

Answer 50:  Please refer to page 141 of the Missionary’s Handbook, which reads as follows:


Two or more elders lay their hands on the head of the sick person, who has been anointed, and the one speaking may say in substance:  Calling the individual by name–‘In the name of Jesus Christ and in the authority of the Holy Priesthood, we seal and confirm upon you the anointing of the consecrated oil with which you have been anointed to the end that the blessing pronounced in the anointing may be realized.’  To this may be added such words of blessing as the Spirit may dictate.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 49(4):236, Apr., 1946)

1948:  3 Oct.:  Miraculous healings by Matthew Cowley.

“Brothers and sisters, with the restoration of this gospel came the reiteration of Christ’s commission: ‘these signs shall follow them that believe.’  (D&C 84:65.)  There is no question about it in my mind.  ‘Lay your hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.’  (Ibid. 66:9.)

In Tonga last year there came to the mission home a couple who had been married for twenty-seven years, and they had never been blessed with children.  This couple wanted to have children, and so they requested us to lay our hands upon them and bless them that they might have children.  And so President Huntsman and I laid our hands upon that couple, and we blessed them.  They had the gift of being healed.  They had the gift of receiving these blessings.

When my wife and I visited Tonga, I think it was last Mayk, the child had been born.

Last year I went from Tonga to Samoa.  Another couple who had been married for years and had had no children came to the mission home there to be blessed that they might have this greatest of all blessings.  And incidentally, brothers and sisters, the greatest calamity that can come to the home of a Polynesian is not to have children.  It is such a great calamity when they do not have children that they go out and borrow their neighbor’s children and rear them.

Well, we blessed this young couple, and when my wife and I were there in May, they brought the child to me to be christened and blessed, and asked that it might be given the name of my wife.

A lady came to me in the mission home suffering from what the Samoans call mu mu–or elephantiasis–her legs swollen out of all proportion.  She said: ‘Brother Cowley, bless me and remove from me this dread disease.’  A month ago in Samoa she came to the mission home and she said: ‘Do you remember me?’  I said, ‘Yes, you are Sister Purcell who was suffering from mu mu when I was here before.’  She showed me her ankles, and they were entirely normal.  THen she said: ‘Now, I want the cataracts to drop from my eyes.  Bless me now that I may receive this blessing through the priesthood of God, from God who has all power to heal.’

Down in New Zealand during my last mission–and incidentally, I have not reported my last mission to New Zealand when I was president there.  I will wait six or seven years to do that and be in line with some of your other mission presidents.  But I went to a place there one day.  It was during the war years.  A young man brought his child, an eight-month-old child to me, and he said: ‘President Cowley, I want you to christen our baby.’  I said: ‘It looks like quite an old child to be blessed.  Why have you not brought it before?’

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I just have not gotten around to it.’

So I said, ‘All right, what is the name?’  And he told me the name, and I was just about to bless the child and he said: ‘While you are giving it a name, please give it its vision.  It was born blind.’

Just like that–just as a matter of fact!  ‘You have the authority to give this child a name and a blesing and you have the authority to give it its vision.’

I was overwhelmed.  I was doubtful, but I knew that within the being of that Polynesian there was the simple faith of a child, a faith not beclouded by psychology or any of the learning of men but a simple faith in God and the promises he had made through his Son Jesus Christ.  I gave that child its name, and eventually I mustered up enough courage to bless it with its vision.

President Halversen knows the little boy.  I saw it a few months ago.  He is now six or seven years old, running all over the place, and he can see as well as I can see this day.  ‘Lay your hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.'”  (Matthew Cowley, 3 Oct., 1948; CR Oct., 1948, pp. 157-158)