Have you ever felt alone, or like no one understands your situation or your feelings? There is one who understands our pain and He longs for you to talk to Him about it.
When we struggle with depression or the blues, our thoughts and outlook are taken hostage to the negative and deceiving input from the world around us. During those times, everything feels like too much of an effort. Those tasks that you have otherwise done with ease, like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins, claim to take more effort than you can muster. And the less we do, the less we want to do.
The same is true of praying when we are downcast. We can be lulled into believing either that God doesn’t care or that He has more important things to do, or that He doesn’t have a desire to listen much less answer our prayers. But those are all lies of the enemy who wants to hold us in the bondage of depression.
Even the medical community is beginning to appreciate the benefits of prayer for our mental health. In a 2009 research study cited in the International Journal of Psychiatry Medicine, it was concluded that prayer is a helpful addition to traditional medical treatment for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety.
Just like with any task while suffering with the blues, prayer can seem difficult. But we don’t have to pray eloquently, or with a particular formula. They key is our willingness to engage in dialoque with the God of all creation. When I was at my lowest, and even now when feelings of being overwhelmed threaten to take me under like a tidal wave, my most heartfelt prayers entail nothing more than whispering His name over and over until I feel peace: “Jesus…Jesus…Jesus.” It’s not eloquent. It’s simply the recognition that He is everything I need, even when I don’t know what I need.
Jesus implored us to come to Him in prayer and share our sorrows, our needs, and our desires with Him. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
While God knows everything, He often waits for us to admit our need. He desires for us to take a step in faith before He moves. It is in that admission that we also recognize we aren’t in control, but we can trust the Creator who is. He desires to meet our greatest needs. “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24 NIV).
When depression or the blues hit, remember you aren’t alone. Jesus gave us a perfect example, and by that, permission to do just as He did. At the end of his ministry, Jesus was so overtaken with grief that He cried out to God from the depths of his heart, “My God, my God, why have you forgotten me?” (Mark 15:34).
In the depth of your despair, I encourage you to fine a quiet place free from distraction to sit quietly in prayer with God. For some, getting outside into nature helps create an environment more conducive to prayer. Know that while God already knows your condition, He longs for you to bring him into your situation, giving Him permission to intervene.
“Out of depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let my ears be attentive
To my cry for mercy.”
Psalm 130:1-2 (NIV)
How can I pray for you today?
(Photo Compliments of Sue Schwabauer Hoeksema)