Pray Away Depression?

A question mark indicating absolute confusion.
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Wait, what? Does this actually work?

As a Christian we often hear from misguided people that if we pray hard enough Jesus will heal our depression and mental health challenges. In essence, we’re told that if we are still struggling, we either don’t believe or aren’t praying hard enough.

This is absolutely NOT the case. I’ve posted before about prayer sometimes not being enough. That’s not because I don’t believe in the power of prayer. I absolutely do believe in the power of prayer. I also, however, believe that we need more than prayer. We need help. We need community. We need prayer partners. We need someone to listen. We may need professional help and medication. Jesus never intended for us to do life alone, leaning only on prayer.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

Romans 12:4-5

Finding help can be complicated. I get it. This past January, when we were actively battling suicidal thoughts and plans, we finally turned to our doctor for help at the urging of our support people. That turned into a long, confusing, and complicated process to get into the behavioral health department. COVID and all made it even more complicated, but truthfully from what I can tell the process is stupid even without COVID restrictions. Call this number, talk to this person, okay you’re all set. Wait, you can’t do both med management and a therapist intake at once. Wait until you’re done one of them and then call back and start over. Sorry, we’re booking 8 weeks out.

For real? This is the process people who aren’t convinced they want to get help or even stay alive are expected to follow? The steps made no sense and used valuable emotional energy we didn’t have to spare. It all worked out in the end, but I tell you this to illustrate that I know intimately how complicated it is to get help.

So here’s what I’m going to tell you. Get someone to walk the process with you. Keep the crisis line numbers everybody wants to throw at you. Reach out to someone help you navigate the process. We need each other, we need community. We can pray about it all day long but we were created to do this together. Keep praying, absolutely, but do something too. Find your support people (they are there, I know it, even if you can’t see it). Be the support person. Offer to help navigate these processes if you are in a space where you can do so.

Today, instead of simply saying “I’ll pray for you”, offer to help the struggling person in your life find community and navigate the systems. If you are struggling today, take someone up on their offer to help and if no one’s offering, ask for help. Tell someone that you’re not sure how to navigate the system, that your brain won’t wrap around the process. Don’t stay silent.

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