A Guest Post by Andrew Jewell
It’s one of those days when you hear that familiar growl coming from over your shoulder.
You sense its red eyes boring into the back of your head and feel its hot breath against your neck…the black dog of depression is back!
We’ve called depression many different names over the years—black dog, monster, beast, black cloud, or even the devil himself.
Whatever we call it, depression is real.
It does not matter how strong your faith or how close you walk with God, when that black dog shows up, it’s tempting to retreat in fear.It does not matter how strong your faith or how close you walk with God, when the black dog of depression shows up, it's tempting to retreat in fear.
My personal battle with the black dog a daily struggle, from the first snarl I hear in the morning, to the deafening roar I feel when it is gaining on me.
Reminding me of my problems.
Ready to pounce when I’m at my lowest.
Threatening to overtake me.
To elude the demon pooch, I often pray incoherently, call out, scream in anguish, and bawl.
But he persists, prowling and ready to pounce when I am at my lowest.
I know it isn’t a real animal. But my experience of him is so frightening, it often feels like I’m fighting against a real foe.
As a Christian, I have heard many platitudes, even merciless comments, shot like arrows from fellow believers toward anyone struggling to fight depression.
How can you be depressed as a Christian?
Why aren’t you filled with joy?
Take hold of the kingdom!
You just need to have a little more faith.
Sadly, these Christian brothers and sisters, who haven’t struggled to fight depression, fail to realize that such comments feed the black dog rather than starve it out.
This article is packed with the best strategies I’ve found in my personal mission to help others fight depression.
And, in my experience, prayer is the most powerful strategy of all!
Identifying and Taming the Black Dog
The good news is the black dog can be tamed! It can be muzzled, hamstrung, tied up, debarked, and de-fanged.
But first, we must name and identify our enemy.
You see, depression is a complex issue. It impacts us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
God created us as spiritual beings in a human vessel.
Just as we need oxygen to breathe, we also need hormones like serotonin and dopamine to function properly in the brain.
Likewise, we need to use our emotional intelligence and higher cognitive functions to question distortions in our own thinking.
Most of all, we need God to guide us into the light.
7 Types of Prayer that Help Fight Depression
Prayer is the most powerful strategy God has given us against depression.Prayer is the most powerful strategy God has given us against depression.
Combined with practical cognitive and physical adjustments, prayer helps us stitch together a leash to tame the beastly black dog.
1. Fight Depression with Prayers of Supplication (Matt 6:11; 2 Chr 6:16-17)
Supplication is all about asking for what you need.
The Father wants to hear from us because He wants us to be in relationship with Him and good relationships rely on good communication.
Just as a mother asks her child ‘how was your day?’ or ‘do you need me to do something for you?’, God wants us to ask for what we need and to let Him know how we’re doing.
When it comes to depression, don’t be afraid to simply ask God for what you need.When it comes to depression, don't be afraid to simply ask God for what you need.
If you need assistance in recognizing your triggers, then ask God for wisdom.
If you know that you have relapse triggers, then ask God to help you put practical preemptive strategies in place.
If you feel yourself veering off track or beginning to backslide, ask God for sensitivity to the Spirit’s reminders.
In a nutshell, if you want to put the black dog on a leash, ask God give you the right tools and determination to do it.
He is faithful to provide!
2. Fight Depression with Prayers of Adoration (1 Chr 29:11-14)
When we adore something or someone, we shift our thinking away from the negative and onto something much more beautiful and purposeful.
When we pray in adoration we are falling in love with our Creator all over again.
When we spend time lifting prayers of adoration, there is no room for the black dog to bark because we no longer make room in that moment to hear it.
3. Fight Depression with Prayers of Confession (Dan 9:4)
I know what you are thinking…
“Are you crazy? Why would I want to confess all my dirty little secrets when I already feel anxious and depressed? Surely that will make it worse, won’t it?”
Even though it’s tempting to protect our skeletons in the closet, prayerful confession is important because it brings with it self exposure.
Depression can’t launch a surprise attack when you’ve taking time to expose what is in the dark.Depression can't launch a surprise attack when you've taking time to expose what is in the dark.
Don’t be afraid to drag your fears, hurts and failures into the light where the hound can no longer hide.
This is the best way to invite God to begin a healing work within you.
4. Fight Depression with Dedication (2 Chr 6:14)
Dedication in prayer when battling depression is really about two things: being dedicated to seeking a Godly and guided healing strategy, and dedicating time and focus to God.
When we dedicate ourselves to the process of healing, our prayers become more powerful.
Because with dedication comes discipline and with discipline comes consistency. And consistency brings cognitive and personal transformation.
Dedication helps us figure out what works and determine whether or not we need to change our approach or simply press repeat.When we dedicate ourselves to the process of healing, our prayers become more powerful.
5. Fight Depression by Praying for Protection (Ps 91:4 )
One of my deepest desires is to prevent depression from happening in the first place.
“Why can’t life just be happy and get on with it?”
Even though I know God’s protection is there, I often feel resentful when I actually need to seek His protection.
At the moment we think we’ve finally caged the black dog, he pounces on us again.
These are the moments when prayers for protection become even more important and relevant.
Scripture reminds us (Eph 6:12) that the battle isn’t purely a physical one, and how essential it is to ensure we are equipped and prepared (Eph 6:10-20).
Our prayers for protection need to be preemptive rather than reactive.Our prayers for protection need to be preemptive rather than reactive.
If we are prepared we have a stronger defense. When we are aware of the holes in the black dog’s cage, we can reinforce them before the next battle.
6. Fight Depression by Praying For Others (Eph 6:18)
Paul speaks in Ephesians about continually praying for one another, with “all kinds of prayers and requests.”
There is more to this logic than simply an encouragement to pray for someone else.
From a cognitive and spiritual perspective, praying for others shifts our thinking away from ourselves and onto others.
This form of intercessory prayer mutes the voice of despair as we focus our hearts on what God is doing in the lives of our brothers and sisters.
7. Fight Depression by Praying in the Spirit (Rom 8:27)
I’ve met a lot of Christians who are afraid of praying in the Holy Spirit for a myriad of reasons.
For some, it may have been bad or past experiences with well meaning churches, lack of understanding, or conflicting theology.
In my opinion, praying in the Spirit is not only biblical, but essential when we are facing things we can’t control, anticipate, or understand.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27
Praying in the Spirit gives us an unfettered and clear phone line to the Father.
When the Spirit prays, we allow God to find the words that we can’t identify and see how the Spirit can help us ask and answer what’s at the core of our present issues.
Concluding Thoughts on Fighting Depression
Depression is a complex problem that needs multi-dimensional solutions.
I encourage you to seek those answers with your whole heart, using prayer as an effective tool to identify and address the root causes of your depression and strengthen you against attack.Prayer is an effective tool to identify and address the root causes of your depression and strengthen you against attack.
So when you hear the black dog coming your way, you will find comfort in the fact that God has given you many ways to pray, and many ways to fight back.
Andrew Jewell is a writer, counselor, Christian motivational speaker, and the founder of Wedgetail Ministries. Wedgetail Ministries provides articles, sacred spaces, and regular content to help you live and embrace a dynamic, life-affirming Christian faith.