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Journal | Prayer and Mental Health

  • April 2021 Issue
Journal

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We may sometimes think that if we had strong enough faith, we would not suffer from mental health complications. But, that isn’t true! Because we live in a broken world, we all experience suffering, and sometimes that takes the form of mental health struggles.

I am encouraged, however, by the ways I have seen many churches begin to lead honest discussions on mental health. Recently, a number of studies have cited the ways that Christian faith and spiritual practices can provide comfort to those in mental distress. Reading Scripture and praying can be a comfort when we are walking through hard times.

You may be going through a dark season right now. With all that is going on in our world, I can tell you, you are not alone! In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” We can to God when we are experiencing difficulties like depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. One of the ways we do this is through prayer.

Prayer helps us connect with God, who is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). When talking to God, we can be honest about the concerns that are weighing on our hearts. Like the Psalmist, we can cry out to God for His help and lay down our heaviest burdens (Ps. 55:17).

When we feel depressed or anxious we tend to hide. We retreat not only from our family, friends, and community but even from God. However, the Bible tells us to do the exact opposite: we can go to God in our times of deepest discouragement. Hebrews 4:16 states, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The Bible promises hope and help when we struggle. Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” We can rest on the promise that God is always there for us.

Finally, it’s important to seek help when your pain feels like too much to bear alone. While reading the Bible and praying often do help, you may also benefit from meeting with a professional counselor. There is no shame in needing the help of a professional to talk through what you are experiencing. When working with Christian clients, I recognize the importance of their faith and want to call upon that strength in our work together to aid in their healing. Combining the spiritual discipline of prayer with counseling can help promote both healing and resilience.

As we seek to grow and heal from mental health struggles, it is okay to reach out for professional help, and at the same time we can look to prayer as a source of comfort and strength.

BY Lauren Yuccas, Graduate Student and MTS Counseling Center Intern

This essay is authored by Lauren Yuccas, a student in Moody Theological Seminary's Clinical Mental Health Counseling program where she is the Chair of Membership and Marketing for the MTS Honor Society as well as a Chapman Scholar. Lauren also currently interns at the MTS Counseling Center. Lauren's areas of interest are trauma, anxiety, grief, and career. She counsels both individuals and couples.

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