School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Divinity (M.Div)


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

Kathleen Cahalan

Subject Categories

Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Practical Theology | Religion


This paper illuminates the complex and nuanced relationship between mental health and prayer, particularly seeking theologically grounded understandings of prayer and of our relationship with God in times of mental distress that goes beyond intercessory prayer. The paper begins with an evaluation of social structures that cause mental health problems (notably in college students). A discussion on emotional agility, scarcity, and vulnerability serves as a transition to examining this question from a theological perspective, the second main section of this paper. In this section, I claim that a misunderstanding of the divine-human relationship and of prayer is one potential source of harm for individuals in mental distress, and I outline an application of emotional agility and prayerful resilience as an alternative. My final main section is a pastoral response in light of the previous two sections.



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