3-7 Psychology and Prayer
We need to recognize that different personality types will relate to God in different ways (1). For some, an emphasis on truth strikes a chord with their temperament. For others, the Biblical stress upon grace or the heights of the 'mystery' of what God has really done for us will appeal to their personality more strongly. Those Jung categorizes as 'feeling types' are, for example, less likely to be impressed by truth, falsehood and logic as 'thinking types' are. All of us must take care that we don't merely pray in a way that that is just a function of our old personality; it requires Biblically-guided effort. The 'intuitive type', to use Jung's classification further, may thus be liable to a prayer life that is more an exercise in psychological catharsis, a personal self-expression, rather than a relationship with the God of the Bible. Perfectionist personalities may be inclined to always defer praying until their mood or the situation is right. Yet God's tremendously high view of us must be allowed to influence us, to the point that we do not have the devalued self-image and self-appreciation which leads to the dis-ease of perfectionism. For depressive personalities, any kind of beginning is excruciating; and to begin to pray is hard, too. They may unconsciously react against duty, against whatever they sense to be an obligation. Perhaps their parents beset them with too high expectations or constant obligations, and these issues will later find expression in difficulties in prayer. These types must come to see prayer as a pleasure, a conversation with their Father which is not a duty. Depression is not a sin. Moses was depressed and suicidal in Num. 11:14,17 but there is no word of rebuke from God. He saw why Moses was like that- because of an over-extension of himself in doing his Father's work. Depression may bring about an inability to feel, which makes the prayers of David seem so far removed from us. Yet again, depression isn't a sin. It's how we are at some times. It shouldn't be allowed to hinder us from praying. And of course there is always a tendency to see our Heavenly Father in terms of our earthly father. Here the Truth of God should set us free; for the God of the Bible is a totally new revelation to us.
(1) Some useful books about this include C.G. Jung Types Of Personality, Paul Tournier, Psychoanalytical Technique And Religious Faith and also his Medicine And The Person.