Grant Wacker, professor of Christian history at Duke University, believes that Oral Roberts was one of the most influential American religious figures of the 20th century. Although I strongly disagree with Oral Roberts’ teachings on divine healing and his views of the prosperity gospel, I agree with Wacker’s assessment because I have seen first hand how Oral Roberts’ teachings on healing had such an impact on people who were sick.
Before his death, a member of my family bought and read many of Oral Roberts’ books dealing with miracles and divine healing. In these books Roberts encouraged people to believe that God was able to heal through prayer and through the power of faith.
In one of his books, 3 Most Important Steps to Your Better Health and Miracle Living (Tulsa, OK: Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, 1976), p. 203, Oral Roberts wrote: “All sickness is from the Devil. All healing is from God.” Many people believed that statement and because of that, they sought Oral Roberts’ prayer when they were sick.
One interesting incident happened to me when I was the pastor of a church in San Jose, California. One day, while visiting a member of my church whose daughter was very sick, the mother of the child told me that she was praying for healing and anointing the child with the holy anointing oil that Oral Roberts had sent her (after she had sent him a monetary gift).
I asked the mother of the child to show me the holy anointing oil she was using to anoint her sick daughter. The oil was in a special bottle, inside a small box. Inside the box there was a written statement that said that the holy anointing oil was manufactured according to the instructions in Exodus 30:22-25:
The LORD spoke to Moses: Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred fifty, and two hundred fifty of aromatic cane, and five hundred of cassia-- measured by the sanctuary shekel-- and a hin of olive oil; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.
The mother of the sick child believed that a sick person should be anointed with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14), and according to the instructions received from Oral Roberts, she should anoint her child with the anointing oil made according to the Bible’s instruction.
I asked that woman if she had read what the Bible says about the anointing oil mentioned in the book of Exodus. When she told me she had not read the passage, I opened my Bible and read both Exodus 30:22-25 (the text mentioned above) and Exodus 30:31-33, which had been omitted from the instruction she had received from Oral Roberts. That text says:
You shall say to the Israelites, “This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be used in any ordinary anointing of the body, and you shall make no other like it in composition; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an unqualified person shall be cut off from the people.”
After explaining to that mother the purpose of the holy anointing oil, I prayed for her child and in God’s mercy, the child’s health was restored and that woman learned a great lesson about healing, anointing, and the ministry of Oral Roberts.
Another book by Oral Roberts was I Will Rain Upon Your Desert. This book deals with a revelation of the Lord that came to Oral Roberts in the desert concerning the vision to rise up and build a new hospital. In this vision, God told Oral Roberts to build a hospital with 777 beds. The hospital was built, but not according to the specifications God gave to Oral Roberts in that vision because the city of Tulsa vetoed God’s command and did not allow a hospital with 777 beds.
There is no doubt that the ministry of Oral Roberts was very influential because his message spoke to people who were looking for the kind of help they believed only God could give. And these people came to Oral Roberts because they saw in him a man who was convinced of the healing power of prayer and because they believed he was the instrument God was using to bring that healing.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Oral Roberts, Old Roberts University