The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration but for some, it is quite the opposite. The season can evoke feelings of stress, loneliness, and anxiety.
Studies show a main cause for depression during November and December is isolation. COVID-19 has exacerbated social isolation for most of us. Even those who don’t usually struggle with the “holiday blues” or depression, admit to dealing with it this year.
Grief is another common reason for depression during the holidays.
We have all been touched by grief this year.
Perhaps you faced the death of a loved one, a divorce, job loss, separation from family members and friends, a negative health prognosis, or some other major loss.
Grief is experienced not only from physical death. There are many shades of grief (see post The Many Shades of Grief).
Dealing with loss can be heightened during the holiday season when we are “supposed” to be joyful. And when we aren’t joyful, that can lead to guilt and even bitterness. After all, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, shouldn’t we be happy?
My friend, if you are suffering from grief and loss this Christmas season, I have something to tell you:
Jesus understands the many facets of loss, loneliness, and sorrow.
“He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” Isaiah 53:3
Jesus is not holding it against you because you aren’t full of joy this Christmas. He is with you in your grief and loss.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Jesus comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
One of the best ways to deal with grief—our own or someone else’s—is with prayer.
What does prayer do? Who should we pray for? How can we pray?
What Does Prayer Do?
In order to understand more about what prayer can do, we must understand more about God. Biblically speaking, God is a personal being. When we pray, we are reaching out and communicating with God. Not only is God personal, but He is also all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, and wise. He knows what’s best for us.
This means that no prayer is too great for God, but also that no prayer is too small for Him.
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.”
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5: 13-16
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:18
Who Should We Pray for and How
The correct answer is anyone and everyone. But all of us know someone who is dealing with something difficult and is in need of specific prayers.
Scripture is the perfect way to pray.
- Pray for those who have experienced loss or tragedy (Matthew 5:4).
- Pray for those who are lonely (Psalm 25).
- Pray for those who are incarcerated or a loved one is incarcerated (Ephesians 1:7).
- Pray for those who do not have a personal relationship with God’s son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:17)
- Pray for food pantries and local homeless shelters (Proverbs 22:9).
- Pray for our churches and godly leaders and their families, for much is expected of them (Galatians 6:9).
- Pray for those who are suffering from illness (Psalm 6:2,3).
Prayer can make a profound difference in our world. But it is up to us to humbly and regularly seek the face of God.
Who is the Spirit leading you to pray for?
Take your prayers a step further.
Reach out to someone in your life experiencing loss or depression.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Pick up the phone or better yet, if possible, pay them a visit. What better time of year than Christmas to give someone the gift of encouragement.
Who is the Spirit leading you to contact this holiday season?
Please feel free to put your prayer requests in the comments below. Do you have something to add to the list of those we should pray for?
If you are dealing with depression or loss this holiday season, please reach out to family, a friend, pastor, or counselor.