People all over the world are experiencing the painful effects of trauma—and have no idea. You might be in this category yourself. Maybe you wouldn’t classify an experience in your past as “trauma,” but it still affected you, and it would be good to pray about it.
Trauma affects people in different ways, so it isn’t always easy to put two and two together and conclude, “Oh. I feel this way because I’m hurting.” Or “I’m struggling today because of past pain.”
In many cases, we know something painful happened to us, but we don’t necessarily think of the experience as trauma because it feels so normal or not as bad as someone else’s experience.
“My friend lost his business during the pandemic. That wasn’t what happened to me, so I can’t use the word traumatic.”
“I made the wrong decision. I’ll know better next time.”
“My dad did the best he could with me. I was a handful! He just didn’t know how to deal with me.”
Trauma doesn’t always feel like trauma, but it still affects us and pushes us to have a trauma response. Many everyday issues fall within the trauma “bucket,” and a lot of people just don’t realize it. The presence of unhealed trauma in a person’s life can look like anger, fear, panic attacks, hypervigilance, depression, bitterness, inability to trust, low self-esteem, allergies, skin problems, difficulty sleeping, etc.
Were Your Needs Met in Childhood?
God wants every person to grow up in a safe environment where all their needs are met. All of us have God-given needs for love, comfort, physical care, etc. When these needs are met in our childhood, we grow up with the basic awareness that our heavenly Father is good and wants to take care of us.
Unfortunately, many of us did not get all these needs met in our childhood. Instead, we experienced painful events and rejection, and we grew up with wounds that still need healing. Anything that stood in the way of our needs being met while we were children can potentially be classified as trauma.
Were you neglected as a child? Did your parents ignore your heart, or were they unable to meet your physical needs? That can be trauma.
Did an authority figure lie to you, say mean things to you, or expose you in some way? That can be trauma. Your head might say, “Oh, that wasn’t a big deal. I was just a kid. It doesn’t matter.” But your heart is saying, “That was SO PAINFUL! I can’t even think about it without feeling the pain all over again.” That’s how trauma works.
Did your siblings call you names and make fun of you? Did they reject your attempts to be friends with them, or did they talk badly about you to their other friends? That can be trauma.
Did you go through an event that left your heart in desperate need of comfort, but no one was there to comfort you? That can be trauma.
Many, many people are dealing with the aftermath of trauma and don’t realize it. But God wants to minister to these places in their hearts and bring healing.
God’s Massive Love for Those Who Have Suffered
If you have experienced any kind of trauma, this is what God wants to do for you:
“Comfort, oh comfort my people,”
says your God.
“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence,
that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!
She’s been punished enough and more than enough,
and now it’s over and done with.” (Isa. 40:1–2 MSG)
That is what God is saying to you about the pains of your past. He has so much comfort stored up for you! His heart is speaking tenderly to your heart and coaxing it into trust.
Many people react to trauma with annoyance. Their heart is aching, but they try to stuff down the pain and ignore it, because they don’t want to be bothered. “It wasn’t a big deal!”
But that isn’t how the Lord treats those painful places inside you. He doesn’t tell your heart, “Just get over it!” No. He speaks to your heart as Isaiah 40:1–2 describes: softly and tenderly. He unleashes words of comfort to it—as much comfort as He thinks you need, which is sometimes a different amount than you think you need.
God is much gentler than any of us expect when we’re struggling, and He knows how to heal our heart.
Praying for Trauma
Like apples of gold in settings of silver,
Is a word spoken at the proper time. (Prov. 25:11 NASB)
If you have gone through trauma, or you know someone who has, here are a few ways you can pray and seek the Lord for healing.
Ask the Lord to remove the trauma and replace it with something of Him.
Very often the best prayers are the simple ones. Sometimes all we need to pray is, “Lord, please remove the trauma and replace it with Your peace.” Or “Replace it with Your love.” Or whatever we sense the Holy Spirit is doing/saying.
When He brings to mind a painful event from our childhood—something that made us feel ashamed, hurt, terrified, lost, or alarmed—we can pray that same basic prayer: “Lord, remove the trauma and replace it.” We can pray similar prayers over our loved ones who have gone through traumatic experiences.
The Lord’s heart is full of comfort for people, and part of comfort is healing trauma.
Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Keep your spiritual ears open to Him.
What is on the Spirit’s heart for you or for the person you are praying for? Has He given you specific words or the sense of something? Craft your prayers about trauma according to what you feel He is saying.
Invite Jesus to bring His healing presence and power.
He is the God of Peace, and His peace cancels out the horrors of the past.
Here is a sample prayer for trauma. This is not a formula, of course—you don’t “have” to pray this way, but hopefully this basic template will inspire you as you pray for yourself and your loved ones:
Heavenly Father, please come and minister to the hurting place in my heart. I know You want to heal this painful event so I no longer suffer the trauma of what happened. Please remove the trauma from me. Please clear it out of my mind, my body, my spirit, my soul, and every other aspect of who I am, and replace the trauma with Your joy.
Jesus, You are the God of peace. I invite Your peace to come into this painful memory. Please release the shock and fear in my system and replace those negative emotions with Your peace.
I declare that I am who You say I am. Your truth is the truth about me. This trauma does not tell me who I am. It does not direct my steps or lead me—You do. I pray these things in the name of Jesus.
The Lord is very good at meeting people right where they are and bringing healing. He can do this for you, and He can do it for the friend or family member you’re concerned about.
If this topic resonates with you, you may want to check out Course 201: Heart Healing Essentials. This devotional is based on lesson 16: “Praying to Release Trauma.” You can find an MP3 of the lesson here.
Also, Sandra Sellmer-Kersten is teaching a Healing Trauma seminar in Athens, Georgia, next week! Check it out here.