In my first post, Hope for Depressed Hearts I told the story of how I got sucked into depression and promised to show you a way out of your own. In the next couple of posts, we will focus on how I got stuck and depressed and ways you can avoid it.
My first mistake
I hung up the phone and dropped to my knees in prayer my mind reeling from news of a disaster that had struck a loved one. After processing the crisis for a few hours, I contacted my pastors and a few close friends and asked them to pray about the situation. Little did I know, the situation would span almost two years and be the first in a rolling series of crises that would stretch me to the breaking point.
As agonizing weeks turned into months, and then months to over a year, I kept my pastors updated with the latest developments and prayer needs to help my loved ones.
This is where I made my first major mistake: Though I’d been diligent to ask for prayer for my loved ones in the throes of the crisis, I didn’t ask for prayer for myself in the throes of shock and grief — it never even occurred to me. (I’m sure my wise pastor’s prayed for me as well as my family members — the strength God supplied to navigate my depressed season is evidence of that.) However, throughout that first awful writhing-in-prayer weekend and the long, difficult path that followed, intercession for my family so consumed my prayers that I overlooked my own need for prayer support.
And boy did I need it.
Despite cultivating deep, quality time with God in Scripture and prayer, I started to struggle with fear. I know God is good, but what if He allows … the worst to happen? I couldn’t turn off the insidious thought. I spent great chunks of time praying and meditating on God’s goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty, and trustworthiness, pouring out the growing heaviness in my heart, confessing my mounting anxiety and struggle to trust God with my suffering loved ones. (It is important to note that I maintained this discipline through each new crisis as they rolled in, one upon another, yet still sank into depression. More on this in the next posts.)
Have you ever felt like you were coming unhinged? I sure did, so I started with the obvious and checked my estrogen and thyroid meds. Was something out of whack medically?¹ We’ve all heard (and perhaps experienced) harrowing tales of hormonal imbalance and the skewed thinking and depressed emotional wreckage that can result. Is that what this is? I wondered.
I couldn’t sleep either. Though God faithfully sustained, stabilized, and equipped me each day, many nights I lay in bed with my thoughts cycling through the details of each crisis. Despite every effort to replace enemy lies with truth, my mind leapt from one potentially disastrous outcome to the next. Perhaps it would have been easier if the fears themselves were far-fetched, but many weren’t. That was the worst: feared outcomes that were feasible — even probable — unless God intervened.
Sometimes as I lay there I felt like I was sinking and falling backward into a black hole with only one prayer on my lips, “Jesus! Help me!” I tried everything: getting up and praying; getting up and reading Scripture; Taking sleeping aids that would knock me out at night. Nothing helped. Finally, in desperation, I hooked myself up to my phone and found some semblance of rest via the IV drip of my Bible app² piping Psalms through my earbuds.
Have you ever struggled like that? Have you ever felt like you are drowning under the painful weight of fear, grief, or confusion? Is your struggle pressing you into a black hole of depression? Friends, that’s exactly why we need others to pray for us!
What we miss
Asking others to pray for our needs is not a luxury, it’s a lifeline, one I seriously underestimated. Asking others to pray for our needs is not a luxury, it’s a lifeline. Click To Tweet
You may be thinking that failing to actually ask for personal prayer sounds like a technicality, but it’s the meat of this post. Asking others to pray for our personal needs is more than a nod your head and “check the box” practice. When you and I intentionally step out of our comfort zone and request personal prayer it activates a powerful dimension in our fight of faith,³ especially when we’re struggling, hurting, or fighting for others. It helps us out of our depressed places.
Let me put it this way: Inviting fellow Christians into our lives by seeking prayer for our pain strengthens us to stand in the face of the enemy and experience victory during grief and trials. Inviting others into our lives by seeking prayer for our pain strengthens us to stand in the face of the enemy. Click To Tweet
Think of the last time someone told you they were praying for you, particularly for a specific struggle you faced. How did the knowledge that someone thought of you and prayed for you impact your heart? Did it embolden your faith and help you stand a bit straighter, maybe even strengthen you to face another day?
Now consider the divine timing of such encouragement. Lean in and meditate on that tender, omniscient touch. What is God whispering to your heart? What does He reveal about Himself through it?
What God reveals about His heart
Friends, there is great POWER present in the knowledge that you are prayed for because it communicates three life-giving truths about God:
- He sees us in our struggle
- He responds to our need
- He walks beside us in our valley
Today God wants you to know that you are not alone in your pain, grief or depression. God wants you to know that you are not alone in your pain, grief or depression. Click To Tweet On the contrary, you are seen, loved, and supported! And God communicates this sweet truth and shares His heart with us through the caring prayers of His people. Is that what you need today?
God has provided everything we need, but we must receive His provision by sharing our struggles and allowing others to wrap their prayers around our pain.
My failure to ask for personal prayer was a huge mistake, one you don’t need to make. So take courage, reach out and ask for prayer today!
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Romans 15:30
What struggle do you need prayer for today? With whom will you share your needs so they can provide the loving support God desires to give you?
Extra Resources for Help:
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors – ACBC is the oldest and largest biblical counseling organization in the world and is recognized worldwide in 30 countries. All counselors are certified and counseling is usually offered at NO COST as a ministry of discipleship through local churches. To find a Biblical Counselor in your area click this link: Find A Certified Counselor
¹A great article from the Biblical Counseling Coalition to help understand the connection between our body and depression.
²The YouVersion of the Bible has many different features, including an app with a timer built in.
³Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: “Does it really do any good to ask others to pray for us when we’re having a problem?”
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 1
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 2: Prayer
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 3: Community
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 4: Deeper with God
(Featured image courtesy of Photo by Ben White)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am just a fellow traveler on the road of faith. That means that no post on my website is ever intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Always seek the advice of a qualified doctor or practitioner with any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of anything you have read on my site.