Bade and Cook have studied prayer as a religious coping strategy and have found that there are different functions of prayer which describe the purposes for which we pray. Some pray to seek God, others seek understanding and direction, and still others pray to receive things like strength, comfort, or peace. Most have sought prayer for coping at one time or another because they were in need of something. Whether or not they were in need of guidance or wisdom, financial provision, healing, or some other request, the authors note that using prayer as a religious coping strategy is similar to seeking social support from a relationship with God. There is something unique about knowing that God is listening and having the ability to share, connect, and communicate with Him. Participants suggest that prayer calms them, decreases fear, and serves as the channel for communication with God.
Since there appears to be various purposes of prayer as well as benefits to a person’s emotional disposition from communicating to God, as counselors we must be aware of which forms of prayer are helpful to which clients. One thing is sure: we should be interceding—even if silently—for our clients inside and outside of sessions. When prayer is used as a coping strategy, both the counselee and counselor are aware that can experience intimacy with God, from whom the healing comes. It is my hope that in the counseling profession, when we do not know what to do, our eyes would be upon the Lord, drawing near to Him with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith for He who promised is faithful. The temptation would be to suggest that God will not show up, but I think we miss the point. God’s faithfulness does not depend on us.
If we believe that those who seek God shall lack no good thing, why do we not seek Him? If our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, why do we look to things that do not satisfy for help? James encourages those who are troubled to pray, noting that prayers can heal and that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Though these are not new recommendations, I believe the prayerful life brings healing because prayer invites God, the Healer, to work in us and through us. We are told to by joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. There are no special conditions in which those are the specific times we should pray. It does not say, “if we feel like it, we should be faithful in prayer.” The Word simply says to be faithful in prayer, so I encourage readers today to ask the Lord for He gives good gifts to His children who ask. Be faithful in prayer.