Does prayer heal depression?

I’ll never forget the day I accepted the Lord. It was in May 2014, I was at the lowest point in my life. I had lost so much weight because I wasn’t even eating, wasn’t sleeping properly, and had no will to live. Basically, I just wanted to die! I’d take pain killers and sleeping pills just to numb the pain – I didn’t want to feel anything. It then got to a place where I was just tired of being in this cloud of darkness, in this place where I felt helpless and hopeless.

I remember Googling the nearest church to where I lived at the time and I decided I’d go. I had come to the end of myself. I had no idea what do with my life, where to go or who to talk to about what was happening inside. I was like, “let me try one last thing”. And that was church. I woke up, got dressed and drove to church. I even remember what I wore that day — a black dress with red shoes. I had short hair at the time and I weighed 53 kgs. This was the smallest I have ever been in my life.

I walked in, sat at the back and just listened to the sermon. I listened with my whole heart, I was hanging on to everything the pastor was saying. My life depended on this. After he finished preaching he made an altar call. At that very moment, I was sobbing uncontrollably and then proceeded to the front. He then prayed for us, and, although I didn’t quite understand what I had gotten myself into (at the time), I can safely say that my life was never the same after that moment. The moment I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour was a life-changing moment for me.

So, did the darkness suddenly disappear after that? Nope. Did things quickly fall into place for me? Not at all. But something changed as I started understanding the importance of having a relationship with God. You see, I knew about God because I come from a spiritual family. My late grandfather was a preacher and he taught me how to pray. However, I didn’t have a relationship with God. I always saw Him as this person I go to when I needed something. But having a relationship with Him? I didn’t know about that. This was the beginning of something special. A journey of discovering that God is not only my provider, but He is also my father, healer, comforter, friend, protector and pretty much everything I could ever need.

Of course, at the time, what I needed the most was healing. I needed my life back, I needed my sanity, I needed peace. And so, the journey began. Why am I telling you about God? Well, it’s because I wanted to give you some background so that you can see how He ties into the title of my post.

I’m a Christian, a believer. I believe in God with all my heart and soul. I know that He is everything that I will ever need. He knows about my battle with depression. He knows about the times I’d wake up feeling like the world was too much to handle. He knows about the many times I’ve felt like giving up, the many times I’ve called the South African Depression and Anxiety Group because I had no one else to talk to. The person on the other side would listen to me, patiently so. No judgement at all.

You see, I believe that while it is important to pray about everything and ask God for healing, I also believe it is equally important to see a therapist, someone who knows how to explain all the mess that’s going on in your head. I see therapy as something that we all need at some point in our lives.

Sometimes the people we love including our friends or family members, don’t know how to deal with depression. Instead, some even say hurtful things like, “oh, you have been bewitched. You have demons, we need to pray for you so that this spirit goes away”. Imagine hearing that from someone you love. “Unamadimoni wena (you have demons).” I’ve heard this from people close to me and it truly breaks my heart.  While I believe in the power of prayer, I also believe in medicine. I believe in seeking professional help. I believe that God sends you people to help you with your situation, and in this case, for me, it’s prayer warriors, pastors, psychologists and psychiatrists. In my experience, they all work hand-in-hand.

I still have days where I feel like I can’t go on any longer. However, I have been given tools to deal with those days. I pray, I journal my feelings, I identify my triggers ( I will talk about triggers one day),  I see counsellors from church and I still have regular sessions with my therapist. While I’m not completely healed, having these tools has made the battle a lot easier.

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