But if prayer has a settling effect on our spirits, isn’t that therapy? In 1855 Joseph M. Scriven wrote the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” to comfort his mother who lived miles away in Ireland. Perhaps you have heard these lyrics: “Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer. Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.” This hymn still connects with us because it describes our common experience. Prayer gives us peace, which certainly sounds therapeutic.
Please note, I have not suggested prayer cannot be used to bring calm, but rather that it is much more than a spiritual drug. It is also more than a technique, and isn’t intended to bring glory to the agent, but rather to draw both its subject and agent into the presence of the Creator.
If there is any comfort in prayer, it is because it is the means by which we connect with the One who knows our inner being, and empowers us with His Holy Spirit. He cleanses our hearts and takes away our iniquity. And He addresses our fears by reminding us of His ability to hold us up in any trial. As the Lord spoke these words to the prophet Isaiah, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)