Study Finds Many Evangelics Believe They can Pray Away Mental Illness


A recent study by Lifeway Research found that 48% of people who describe themselves as Evangelic Christians believe that mental illness can be cured by “bible study and prayer alone.”

Anything is possible for God, so what they are saying doesn’t sound so bad right? Serious mental diseases like bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia can be cured if you just try to be a better Christian and pray a little harder right?


There are certain fundamentalist sects throughout the years who have refused medical treatment based on their faith—Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses for example.

There are several things wrong with this belief. The first, and most obvious is, God doesn’t reward good works—he’s not Santa Claus. God rewards faith with eternal life but you won’t get brownie points on Earth just because you attend more Bible studies or give more money to your church than the next person.

The second problem is; medical science is a gift from God. Christians are so used to rejecting scientific theories I think they lose sight of the fact that, more often than not, science serves to glorify God. In His grace and wisdom, God has given us the knowledge of how to identify and treat these conditions. To refuse professional care in lieu of prayer would be like refusing one of God’s gifts.

Prayer and Bible study should be a part of everyone’s life but we can’t burry our heads in the sand and forget about God’s other gifts. People who have had loved ones suffer from severe mental disorders know they can’t be something we ignore. If gone untreated these diseases can lead to physical harm, suicide or (in extreme cases) homicidal actions.

Ed Stetzer, the president of Lifeway Research said it best when he told The Guardian:

“I would say that if your leg is broken, you’re going to believe in prayer, you’re going to believe in scripture, but you’re probably also going to have some medical intervention.”

Prayer and scripture, yes always but don’t let your faith blind you to God’s other gifts that are all around us.

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2 Responses to Study Finds Many Evangelics Believe They can Pray Away Mental Illness

  1. Steve Bloem says:

    This is a great article, short, to the point and powerful in its message. My wife Robyn and I have been fighting mental illness, and also the stigma of mental illness for almost thirty years. It can be very lonely. However, our greatest joy is helping those whose lives have been shattered by mental illness. When it comes to mental illness, usually the strongest advocates for change in the mental health arena are those who have a mental illness or a family member who suffers from one. So if you are a believer and find yourself hurting deeply because of the pain of a mental disorder. Or if you have to watch your loved one being in agony every moment; Remember, God will use you in someone’s life that will be needing comfort. God does not waste suffering in the lives of His children, please read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11). As Ed Stetzer’s research has demonstrated, many evangelicals still don’t get it. Let us pray with all our might that God will be merciful to us. Pray that He will use us to penetrate the prison system about which one warden stated recently on T.V., “Today’s prison and jails are the insane asylums of past centuries.” Evangelicalism must help those who are not in the mainstream, who cannot give back. This is what a real Christianity does!
    Steve and Robyn Bloem
    Cofounders, Heartfelt Counseling Ministries

    • Outlaw Monk says:

      Thank you. I also struggle with this in my own family. When things like this hit home you realize what a God-sent blessing the medical community really is.

      Thanks for the comment.

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