Can Mental Health be Improved by Prayer?

Can Mental Health be Improved by Prayer? October 6, 2023

World Mental Health Day is October 10. With her unique perspective on the spiritual side of the mental health struggle, please welcome guest author Kimmie M.

 

Kimmie M. relaxing in a window frame
Photo of Kimmie M. by Victoria Hudspeth. (Used by permission)

Have you ever experienced mental health struggles absent from prayer? I know I have. In the past thirteen years of my own personal battle with mental health, I’ve seen myself through different phases of spirituality.

 

Firstly, I want to assure you that you are not alone in these seasons of anguish. Whether you are actively fighting on the frontlines with prayer every day, or you’ve been in a place where you feel so distant from God you are afraid that He can’t even hear you, you aren’t alone.

 

Shockingly enough, there are times where we can pray so loudly and so often it makes us tired, yet we still feel like God isn’t listening. The good news is that He is. In fact, He’s cooking up all the ways this time of mourning can be used for us to become stronger in prayer.

 

Prayers or Pills?

 

There are common misconceptions among various denominations and mindsets that poor mental health is either only a spiritual battle or only chemical and psych0-ological.

 

What if I were to tell you it isn’t either, but rather, both?

 

a bottle of antidepressants on a Bible open to 2 Corinthians 4.
God can use more than one way to call us out of darkness. (Photo by M. Scott Coffman)

 

Unfortunately, until Christ returns, we’re always going to have sicknesses within the flesh. In times like these, our vulnerabilities shine for demonic presences like a porchlight for a swarm of June bugs. When our minds are already sick, they’re prone to become sicker if we leave ourselves defenseless.

 

God and Prozac

 

There is a song by a Christian artist Chris Renzema that I like called “God and Prozac’ that perfectly captures this idea.

 

“The better part of my twenties spent writing songs about God

On a Prozac prescription, doesn’t that seem odd?

‘Cause I believe in a gospel and a God who is good,

But these chemicals don’t always work like they should.

 

Hung up on this heartache, and the distance between

The way that I’m feeling and what I believe

‘Cause, God, I know that You’re with me, yeah I really do,

But these feelings just need some help to break through.”

 

Preventative measures are certainly one of the best things one can do to get ahead of chemical imbalance, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. God gives us medical professionals for a reason that can give us the physical tools we need to make the symptoms of mental disorders more manageable.

 

If one knows they have an anxiety disorder, they’re going to want to prioritize sleep, eat brain-nutrient-dense foods, and turn off devices or block websites, publications, and notifications that may cause higher levels of stress. It’s highly probable that seeking psychiatric help will benefit that person as well, whether that is cognitive therapy, medication, or both.

 

Our struggle

 

The mind is a powerful thing—I genuinely believe it’s where the body meets the soul. Demons send messages to us through this vessel where the spiritual realm and the physical realm intertwine. As Ephesians 6:12 says:

 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV)

 

Prayer is the ultimate preventative measure for what I believe to be the worst symptom out of them all—the ability for demons to attack when our guards are down. Our spiritual practice and frequency of prayer often determines the severity of the physical symptoms with mental disorders. Demonic presences feed like leeches off the lies administered by their leader.

 

A prayer I say often that seems to cover my bases is as basic and bare-bones as possible, but it’s one you can say too.

 

“Father God, I first want to thank You for this day. I thank You that You have allowed me another chance to search for Your will in my life. Let me not become distracted by these thoughts and give me the strength to discern between Your voice and my own, from the voices of demons and my own, given to me by only You. You say we are not born with a spirit of fear, so help me to be fearless. You breathe life, not death, so help me to remember that these thoughts of self-harm are not of and never will be of You. Remind me who I am in You, that I am your creation, crafted in Your holy image, so that I may see who you created me to be. Give me the strength to control my tongue and my anger when my tolerance thresholds are small. Give me the strength to treat those I love with kindness, patience, and understanding. In Jesus’s Mighty Name, Amen.”

 

I want you to take note of something—beginning our prayers with a spirit of gratitude makes us more receptive to the plan our Father has for us and allows us to give Him control. Because we leave it in His hands, we can hear His voice better.

 

It’s in these moments where we find the reasoning behind why we are going through these grim times, these times of fear, depression, confusion, and uncertainty. Will these things go away completely? For some, sure.

 

However, it’s more common that God allows us to struggle to remind us of who He is and what He can do for us. The real key is reaching out to Him for help and acknowledging that He is there for us to cry out to no matter the situation, time of day, or place.

 

Kim with a headache
Let me not become distracted by these thoughts… (Photo by Victoria Hudspeth. Used by permission.)

My second word of advice is…

 

Pray for others! Humility in prayer pulls us back from whatever is going on in our own minds and focuses our attention on others.

 

In my own experience, praying over myself during a spiritual attack on my mind helps greatly. Nevertheless, praying over someone else that I know is struggling, that they may hear His voice as well, replaces the feelings of fear, shame, and doom with joy, peace, and hope. Where there is faith, there cannot be fear. Where there is joy, there is also gratitude, and God honors these things.

 

Philippians 4:8 tells us,

 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—thing about such things.” (NIV)

 

Not only when we pray, but when we shift our focus of prayer to who God is and not only to our own restoration, but to the restoration of others, our minds become much easier to navigate, and truth becomes much easier to discern.

 

(M. Scott is on vacation this week, but he’ll be back soon! Click on the Free Newsletter link to be the first to know when.)

 

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