Here are the two prayers to be offered (usually by the Minister but not necessarily so) for the sick person in “The Order for The Visitation of the Sick” in The BCP (1662). I provide each one in its original form and also in a so-called contemporary form to accommodate to the prayer patterns of different persons. The “him” can of course become “her”.
O LORD, look down from heaven, behold, visit and relieve this thy servant. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy, give him comfort and sure confidence in thee. Defend him from the danger of the enemy, and keep him in perpetual peace and safety; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O LORD, look down from your holy habitation, heaven, to observe, to visit and to bring relief to this your sick servant. Look upon him with the eyes of your mercy, strengthen him, and give him a firm confidence in You. Defend him also from the danger of the enemy, and keep him in continual peace and safety; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear us, Almighty and most merciful God and Saviour: extend thy accustomed goodness to this thy servant who is grieved with sickness. Sanctify, we beseech thee, this thy fatherly correction to him; that the sense of his weakness may add strength to his faith, and seriousness to his repentance: that, If it shall be thy good pleasure to restore him to his former health, he may lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory: or else give him grace so to take thy visitation, that, after this painful life ended, he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear us, Almighty and most merciful God and Savior: extend your well-known goodness to this your servant who is distressed by sickness. Grant, we pray, that your fatherly correction of him will cause him to grow in holiness; that his sense of weakness may add both strength to his faith and seriousness to his repentance; so that, if it is your good pleasure to restore him to his former health, he may live the rest of his life reverently and to your glory: or , we pray, give him grace to accept your present visitation, so, that, after this life of pain is ended, he may dwell with you in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is clear that the experience of pain and suffering by baptized Christians was interpreted in some measure by the exhortation occurring in Hebrews 12:5:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Not be weary when reproved by him,
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
And chastises every son whom he receives.”
In other words the presence of sickness and disease is a sign to the individual Christian believer that he or she is very much in a relation to the Father of the Lord Jesus, even if that relation takes the form of chastisement or discipline. The key point is that the relation of grace and mercy and adoption as a child of God is constant in good times and bad. However, for us to try to identify the reasons in the divine mind and will for this “visitation” of ourselves or our loved ones is best not attempted! Rather, let us rejoice in the high privilege of being “visited.”
The doctrine in The BCP is not that it is God’s will in the Gospel to heal in body and mind all who receive the Gospel and for whom fervent, believing prayer is offered. It certainly allows for marvelous healing of the sick in response to such prayer; but it also treats the visitation of God in sickness as part of the care of God the Father of his children to make them holy and humble before him, and prepared for life everlasting with him.
www.pbsusa.org www.anglicanmarketplace.com firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 08