Praying for Mental Health is a Cry for Medical Help

TroubledtimeswomanSurvey says a third believe prayer alone cures mental illness. Yeah, right. A third know prayer heals. The post says believe but in fact it’s know. They aren’t making a guessy affirmation, they mean know. “Prayer alone…”

A recent study by LifeWay Research has found that a “third of Americans – and nearly half of evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians – believe prayer and Bible study alone can overcome serious mental illness.”

Lifeway’s cheesy survey shows how this group is pandering to religion as their surveys range from innocuous to propaganda. So what? What would it mean if one third thought prayer cures mental illness?

  • What difference if one third pray a lot instead of seeing a therapist? Prayer’s cheap and doesn’t hurt as much as a poke in the eye, right.
  • They don’t see a therapist and continue being sick.
  • It makes mental illness seem like an issue of will power which infects others who wouldn’t use religion but will accept that it is a free will issue.
  • Therapy doesn’t gain general acceptance and doesn’t receive the support and funding it needs to do research, make improvements, and widen acceptance.
  • Since a third aren’t getting better there is a fatalism to mental illness that normalizes its presence. It would be better to not live with it than to call it personality, character, or addiction.
  • Churches gain unmerited power because those who pray will seek the support of the the clergy and church. The clergy are not trained as therapists. The church is not able to properly deal with mental illness.
  • The prayerful support of mental illness validates that good and evil are part of being ill rather than material issues with the body.

The survey disingenuously polls that churches are more welcoming to the mentally ill and have long been so, as a positive boon. Yes, well that’s the issue. Churches deny the very real organic issues of mental illness that require psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and philosophy. Churches don’t want the mentally ill to seek worldly help. Churches have capitalized comfort to the negation of cure. The church doesn’t want to cure you because you won’t come back!

This is when I think rudeness and social intervention are essential. If someone tells you they are praying, and worse praying more because they have an issue, depression, anxiety, paranoia, obsessive compulsion, or any other medical issue for that matter, tell them to see their doctor. Hell, offer to drive them there. Anyone who is willing to pray for help is more in need of help. Praying is not casual and is often the last resort. Every other thing they have tried hasn’t worked. Praying for mental health is a sign to get help.

Jim Newman, bright and well

About Jim Newman

Jim Newman is a philosopher. When I was young I wondered what was the ultimate truth. How should I behave? What makes it all work? I was intensely curious to know what it all means. It was enlightening to realize there is no ultimate truth, but nevertheless sufficient and necessary turth, and that meaning was a meta analysis of living one’s life. In this sense my work has been living large. Living and experiencing life has made me learn many things. Building boats, motors, houses, electronics. Raising animals. Teaching. Writing. Photography. Drawing. Knitting. Sewing. Cooking. Music. Painting. Hiking. Aboriginal living skills. All material aspects of reality that seem irrelevant until you realize they allow you to experience more. My epiphany came when I read Christopher Hitchen’s “Letters to a Young Contrarian” and I felt vindicated in my many meals of sacred cow.
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