18 September 2011

Sometimes prayer just isn't enough

I've sort of touched on this before in my post titled Just decide to be happy but I want to focus on the spiritual aspect of this, for lack of a better way of putting it. Often times, Christians will tell a fellow Christian something along the lines of "You just need to pray more" or "Stop wallowing" or "You need to really believe that God will heal you". They say this about everything from a cold to cancer, and within that spectrum falls mental health problems, specifically (from my experience) PostPartum Depression. I know it happens with other conditions, PPD just happens to be the arena that I have some experience in so that's the angle I'm addressing it from.

I personally can attest to the fact that God answers prayers. I grew up hearing the old church adage "God always answers prayers: Sometimes He says "yes", sometimes "no", and sometimes He says "wait". I think there's something to add to that when it comes to health problems (physical, mental, emotional, any variety), he sometimes (read: often) says "You need flesh and blood help". Yes, God answers prayer, but sometimes prayer on it's own just isn't enough. Sometimes, we have to take action in this world as well.

Going to a psychiatrist, admitting that you need therapy, going on medication, none of these things mean you are a bad Christian, they don't mean your faith is lacking, they don't mean you need to pray more/pray better/rebuke the demons better/pray the Prayer of Jabez regularly/get blessings from more Priesthood holders[1]/pray in tongues more often/anything else. Sometimes, we really do have to use the resources God gave us in the form of modern medicine.

If you're a Christian who knows that someone is struggling, DO NOT tell them any of these things. (1) It's not true (2) You're probably making them feel worse. Think VERY VERY carefully about how you respond to them because regardless of how good your intentions are, saying something that even has undertones of that variety can cause a lot of damage. One of the last things a Christian needs when they're already struggling with the myriad of feelings and thoughts that come with PPD is to then feel like those who are supposed to lift them up are judging them, or to question their faith. I know when people told me this, I thought "I pray all the time, if this could be dealt with just by praying I'd have been all better a long time ago."

Sometimes, prayer is enough in some situations. I have seen people healed of various illnesses, maladies, conditions, etc. I know people who have witnessed drastic infirmities instantly healed. I do believe that God can and does answer prayers with yes... sometimes. Sometimes, prayer on it's own is enough. But sometimes it's not, and that's okay.

[1] For my LDS readers


  1. This isn't the first article I've read about some sort of depression that states that the popular "treatment" choice among the clergy is prayer.

    It angers me. It's like saying "oh, your leg is broken? Lets pray over it AND NOTHING ELSE. You'll be up and running before it gets dark outside".

    The arrogance actually enrages me.

  2. Esther- I found this link from your comment on Recovering Alumni's recent post "Honor Academy Official Response to Recovering Alumni" and I'm curious- are you LDS?

  3. Hey, I'm sorry, I just saw this. Yes, I am. :)