6 Smart Moves and 8 Key Prayers to Improve Mental Health

Pastor, Author, Podcast Cohost
Updated May 16, 2024
6 Smart Moves and 8 Key Prayers to Improve Mental Health

I grew up in a day and age when people had some fear and trembling about therapists. They still called them “shrinks” in the movies, and well-meaning Christians would say things like, “We don’t need counselors when we have the Great Counselor, God.” There was a strange aversion and unfortunate stigma when it came to our mental health.  I always wanted to yell, “Then you must not need doctors or teachers or leaders since you have the Great Healer, the Great Teacher, the Perfect Leader in God.” Thank goodness times are changing and therapy is more acceptable, socially. 

It’s a big mistake and deeply harmful, honestly, to believe or teach that God doesn’t work through trained professionals in the mental health field. God does! All along, God has always partnered with people, (think about Moses, Mary, Paul, Lydia, the disciples of Jesus, and not to mention, so many followers of God throughout history), to bring healing and hope to the world. But even today, in 2024, we can still be confused about pursuing and prioritizing our own mental health. What does the Bible say about counseling?

Photo Credit:  ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Drazen Zigic

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How Divine Wisdom and Professional Help Lead to True Healing

Interestingly, the Old Testament alone has almost 90 references to counsel - meaning advice, aid, or giving purpose. Proverb 15:22 says, 

“Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.”

Because God loves all the parts of us, we know that He cares about our mental health. This Mental Health Awareness Month, if you find yourself struggling with wholeness, anxiety, depression, or any type of mental health issue, there is no shame before God. He has given us the gift of trusted therapists and doctors to help guide us toward healing – and God wants us to thrive and know his wholeness. 

After losing my best friend to breast cancer over a year ago, I returned to a therapist for the first time in a few years. I am a pastor. I’ve been in therapy before. You’d think I could do this on my own. But because my grief, fear, sadness, and anxiety were really overwhelming, and because I know God wants me to honor my loss and sadness, while still being able to love my family and my church community....well, for me, calling my therapist was a step towards greater freedom and health. 

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Young woman receiving counseling; what does the Bible say about counseling?

6 Vital Moves to Enhance Your Mental Wellness

If you are struggling, here are a few steps you might consider: 

  1. Tell a safe person that you are struggling. Be honest and open. There is no shame!
  2. Reach out to a therapist. Ask around for recommendations. Make sure the therapist is reputable, educated, and trained in their field. You might have to try more than one therapist; it’s a bit like dating. Find someone you have chemistry with.  
  3. Remember that it is a normal part of being a human on earth in 2024 to grapple with mental health. Statistics tell us that mental health struggles are on the rise now especially in the next generation. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 
  4. “Mental illnesses are common in the United States. It is estimated that more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (57.8 million in 2021). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Two broad categories can be used to describe these conditions: Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI). AMI encompasses all recognized mental illnesses.” 
  5. Be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself and others. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle, and if you grapple with your mental health, you are not doing anything wrong. You are not sinning. You are a limited human and you are so loved by God. Be gracious to yourself. 
  6. If you are struggling with any suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline immediately. That number in the United States is 988. You are worth that phone call. 
  7. Pray about your mental health and for loved ones who might be hurting. Perhaps you aren’t struggling right now,  but you have a loved one - a parent, a child, a spouse, or a neighbor who battles some form of chronic mental health struggles. See below for a prayer guide. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/asiseeit

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Man humbly praying with his head down on a Bible; what does the Bible say about counseling?

8 Prayers of Hope and Healing for Mental Health from Psalm 126

When I pray about mental health, I like to begin with Psalm 126. Psalm 126 is a song of Ascent, which means it was prayed and sung by the community of God-fearing pilgrims as they ascended the hill to Jerusalem. 

As we enter the month of May and honor Mental Health Awareness month, let this pilgrim prayer become our own:

  1. Pray that the Lord will restore the health of your loved ones – their mental and emotional health.
    "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion..." - Psalm 126: 1
  2. Pray that the Lord would heal the pain of broken dreams or lost dreams caused by mental health battles and redeem what mental unhealth has tried to steal.
    "...We were like those who dream, those who found health..." - Psalm 126:1
  3. Pray that the Lord would fill your loved ones who struggle with new laughter and joy, with sweetness because of the Lord’s goodness.
    "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy..." - Psalm 126: 2
  4. Pray that your loved ones and their community will witness God’s greatness
    "...then they said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them....” - Psalm 126:2
  5. Praise God! Even in mental health battles, he is doing great things for us. Pray that he would return gladness to your hurting loved ones.
    "The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." -Psalm 126: 3
  6. Pray that the Lord would restore thoughts and mindsets and end emotions that are held captive by mental unrest.
    "Restore the captives, O Lord..." - Psalm 126:4
  7. Pray for those who struggle with sadness, grief, and even depression- that they will experience abiding joy. Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Psalm 126:5
  8.  Pray for all those in this generation and the next who struggle with emotional health that as they sow tears of weeping, they will hold onto the hope and the promise that one day, God will birth the seeds of life and healing.
    "He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him." - Psalm 126:3

Photo Credit: doidam10 via Canva Pro

Aubrey SampsonAubrey Sampson is a pastor, author, speaker, and cohost of the podcast, Nothing is Wasted. She is the author of Big Feeling Days, The Louder Song, Overcomer, and her newest release, Known. Find and follow her @aubsamp on Instagram. Go to aubreysampson.com for more. 

Originally published Wednesday, 08 May 2024.