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Can Prayer and the Bible Alone Help Someone Overcome Mental Illness?


...54 percent of Americans believe that churches should do more to prevent suicide.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: A member of the congregation carries a Bible during the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church's annual Thanksgiving service on July 28, 2013 in the Elephant And Castle area of south London, England. The 28th annual adoption Thanksgiving service saw attendees from across the world including Nigeria, USA and Germany. The service was attended by the leader of the Church, His Most Eminence Baba Aladura. The indigenous African initiated Christian church was founded in Nigeria in 1925, has an estimated 5 million members that worship in around 1,500 houses of prayer worldwide. Credit: Getty Images

Can prayer and the Bible, alone, help someone overcome a serious mental illness? This question is one that LifeWay Research, a faith-based polling firm, recently asked respondents -- and the results might not be what you expect.

In the wake of a broader discussion in Christian circles about these disorders and their impact on believers, the findings indicate that nearly half of evangelicals, born-again Christians and fundamentalists (48 percent) believe that the Bible and prayer, alone, can help people overcome these barriers.

Forty-seven percent of believers, though, disagree with the notion that these elements, alone, will cure serious illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression.

Credit: Getty Images

Views among Americans more generally are worth noting as well. While the majority (59 percent) reject the notion that prayer and the Bible, alone, are viable solutions, one third (35 percent) believe that these religious sentiments will help people combat mental ailments.

As age increases, the propensity to believe that the Bible and prayer alone will solve mental infliction decreases. While LifeWay notes that 50 percent of those aged 18 to 29 believe that these elements are sole solutions, only 30 percent of those Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 agree.

These results may be troubling to some who believe that those with serious illnesses need definitive medical care, regardless of religious fervency.

Here's a graphic that shows comparisons among the results:

Photo Credit: LifeWay Research

Since the suicide of Pastor Rick Warren's son, Matthew, Christians have increasingly been examining mental illness to explore how churches should be responding to meet believers' needs. Warren and his wife, Kay, spoke out this week about their 27-year-old son's lifelong battle with mental illness, noting that they had tried everything to help him overcome plaguing issues.

It was the Warrens' first interview since their son took his life in April. The family plans to launch a ministry to address mental illness -- something that is obviously close to the preacher's heart.

Considering church action on this issue, the LifeWay poll also found that 54 percent of Americans believe that churches should do more to prevent suicide. Among evangelicals, fundamentalists and born-again Christians, this proportion increases to 64 percent.

You can see all of the results on the LifeWay website. What do you think? Take the poll, below:



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