When Someone Won’t Accept Help Prayer

When someone won’t accept help, it can be extremely stressful and draining. 

Unfortunately, no one can force anyone to accept help unless they are ready and willing to accept it. Here is a prayer to help you talk honestly with God about your loved one who won’t accept help.     

When Someone Won’t Accept Help Prayer

Dear God, someone I care about won’t accept help.   It breaks my heart to see them suffering like this and refusing to get help.

You know the things I have done and others have done to convince them to get help, but our  words seem to fall on deaf ears.  God, only you know the reason why they can’t or won‘t accept help.  Please show me their reasons so I can pray more effectively.

I pray that if they are in denial that you will help them face reality.  Please intervene in any way possible to open their eyes.  In the meantime, help me continue to trust and pray, even when things go from bad to worse.  Even if they are heading for rock bottom, I affirm my belief that you are able to reach people even there.   

I pray against the things my loved one is doing to try and fix things on their own, things that aren’t healthy or productive.  I pray against all pain numbing substances which they are using to self-medicate such as alcohol and drugs.  I pray against anything they are doing to run away, to isolate themselves and to push away the people who care about them.

I pray that you will help them overcome any emotions that are causing them to not accept help.  I pray against the fear of losing control, against being afraid to show weakness, against feelings of hopelessness and feelings that others will judge and condemn them for their condition. 

I affirm my belief that you have many ways to send help.  I believe that this situation is not beyond your help and not beyond redemption.  I believe that my loved one is precious in your sight and that you desire for them to be healed, comforted and strengthened. 

I pray your protection for my loved one until they accept help.  Please help me know when to provide them with a safety net and when to stop trying to rescue them.  Give me the strength, support and trust to allow them to walk the hard road of their choosing until they finally choose a healing path. 

Please show me how to take good care of myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually as I deal with my loved one.  Show me how to set healthy boundaries.  Show me how to stay in relationship with them without being dragged down by their problems.  Show me when I need a break.  Help me keep my eyes on you and not on their situation.

Guide me to sources of help for myself.   Help me take advantage of the things you offer me such as counselors, support groups, prayer partners, intercessory prayer groups, worship opportunities, Bible studies, mentors and educational groups.

Most of all, I pray that my loved one who won’t accept help will turn fully toward you in their time of need.  May they enjoy the love of God our beautiful creator, the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit that brings the peace that passes all understanding.  

I now claim the following promises from the Bible for myself and my loved one:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of need.  (Psalm 46:1 NIV)

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

I pray the power of Christ over my loved one as Christ proclaims that through his power, people find help, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”  (Matthew 11:5 NIV)     

If my loved one hits rock bottom like the prodigal son in the Bible, I pray that their eyes will be opened to their bad situation and they will come to their senses.  I pray that they will remember the help that is available and will set out toward help with determination.   (Luke 15:11-23)

I thank you that you are waiting with open arms like the father of the prodigal son to welcome, comfort and celebrate the return of my loved one.

This is a very difficult situation for me, but I know that with you, all things are possible.  (Matthew 19:26)

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Having ongoing prayer conversations with God for someone who won’t accept help

Praying for a person who won’t accept help is often a long term prayer process.  Here are some subjects to pray about that will help you clarify the situation and guide you toward help. 

Ask God to show you the reason that someone won’t accept help

Knowing the reasons that someone won’t accept help can enable you be more specific in your prayers and your communication with your friend or loved one.  Ask God if these or other reasons are standing in the way of someone accepting help.

Denial

People needing help often act as if they don’t have a problem. Denial is defined as claiming that something isn’t true.  Examples include: A person having serious health symptoms not going to a doctor.  An alcoholic seeing their excessive drinking as normal and harmless.  A person in a troubled marriage making up excuses for their spouse’s bad behavior.      

Fear

People needing help are often held back by fear.  They might fear admitting failure, fear losing face or  fear how people might react when they find out the trouble they’re in.   They could be afraid of the truth or afraid to trust others.  They may even fear the necessary treatments such as medications, operations or doctors.   

Stigma, shame, guilt

People might be afraid to seek help especially if there is a stigma attached to the problem they have.  As an example, outsiders who aren’t educated about the biological basis of mental illness may shun people suffering from them.  People who won’t accept help also might be feeling shame or guilt for things they have done to get themselves into a bad situation.

Worried about the mental, physical or monetary cost of the help

Some people won’t accept help because they are afraid they don’t can handle the cost of the cure.  They  might feel inadequate to cope with the monetary cost or the physical or mental energy required to be helped.  They may also dread the stress undergoing intense treatment like chemotherapy.

Being totally unable to see that they have a problem

There are cases when the person is totally unable to see they have a problem.  Psychologists call this anosognosia, particularly when a person’s mental health condition makes them totally incapable of knowing they’re ill.  This can happen where any sort of brain dysfunction is involved such as brain injury or dementia.  In such cases, the law allows family members to petition the courts for temporary or permanent guardianship so they can seek and authorize help for the person.

Feeling unworthy of help

Sometimes life has been so cruel to people that they feel that they aren’t worthy of getting help.

Pride/threat to independence

Sometimes people are too proud to receive help.  Fearing loss of independence can be a huge factor. We don’t want to admit we can’t handle things on our own and we do everything we can to show that we can do it ourselves – even if it kills us.

Depression/hopelessness/fatalism

Depression or feeling hopeless make it hard to ask for or receive help.  You might be up against a case where someone has lost their will to live.  Look for statements such as, “Why should I try anymore?  Nothing I have tried has done any good. The world is better off without me.”

Important! If you think that someone might be suicidal, seek professional help immediately! If they are in immediate danger call 911. This is a case where there’s no question that you should forcefully intervene, even if the person insists they don’t want help.

Not ready or willing to give up what their current way of life

Some people are so used to life as it has always been that they aren’t ready to give it up.  They may enjoy some aspects of their life that to outsiders looks clearly troubled or dangerous.  Others become desensitized and comfortable with their problems and don’t know how to live outside of the unhealthy cycle. 

Addiction to substances or behaviors

Some behaviors and substance use are addictive either physically or emotionally.  Addiction is real and difficult to overcome without help.  

Ask God to guide you to resources that can help you more fully understand the problems faced by the person needing help

Before we can effectively pray to guide others toward help, we first need to accept help ourselves.  Ask God to show you educational, practical support and spiritual resources to keep you focused on positive directions.

 Pray for direction to see if you are directed to any of the following sources of support:

Support groups

Professional counselors

Education about possible treatments or therapies

Practical Information to be better informed about the problem, causes and cures

Prayer partners

Ministers

Medical intervention/treatment

Nonprofit organizations

Biblical insights

Prayer request groups and prayer chains

Meditation and learning to hear God’s voice

Healing prayer services

Pray honestly about your feelings, fears and hopes

When someone won’t accept help it can cause us to feel all sorts of emotions.  We might feel angry at the person for the hurt they are causing us or for the potential they are wasting.  We might feel helpless, hopeless and discouraged.  We might feel stressed and anxious.   We might be worried about their safety, their families, their jobs or their future. 

Their situation might be breaking our hearts because of the toll it’s taking.  We may feel worn out and feel like giving up.  We may even feel like God isn’t listening to our prayers or feel angry at God for not intervening.  The list is endless.

No matter what you are feeling, tell God about your emotions.  Honestly unburden your heart to God.  Be assured that God hears and he cares, even when you can’t feel it.

There are many ways you can express your feelings to God.  These include writing down your feelings, crying, praying out loud while pacing, kneeling, going to a prayer chapel, singing or having someone pray with you. 

My personal prayer experiences with people who won’t accept help.

I wrote this prayer because it’s something I pray about daily.  I have a section on my morning prayer walk where I mention the names of those I know who need help but who haven’t yet accepted it.  I call these people “those who have lost their way.” 

For example, I pray for several who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.  I also pray for someone who prefers living on the streets and in shelters instead of having their mental illness treated.     

Prayers for my ill father  

I personally have been through tough times when someone near and dear to me wouldn’t accept help.  One was with my 82 year old father.   He lived independently until he underwent a serious operation to save his life.  After he recovered from his operation, he seemed to lose the will to live.  That’s when he started refusing to eat.  Every meal was a battle to get a few spoons of food into his mouth.  This agony went on for months.   

I didn’t realize the toll that Dad’s refusal to eat was taking on me until one day when I driving home from his nursing home and saw a beautiful sunset.  For some reason, it made me burst out crying.  I realized that trying to get Dad to accept help had caused me to become starved myself to see something beautiful and hopeful.  I realized that although Dad was the person with the actual illness, I was just as affected by it as he was.

My mental prayer picture of getting away in a boat with Jesus

A few nights later God gave me a picture to pray.  I imagined myself at the edge of a lake like the Bible said when Jesus often went with his disciples who were fishermen.  I imagined myself getting into the boat with Jesus and him rowing us out into the middle of the lake away from Dad’s disease.   Then we just sat together in the boat, resting, away from the struggles.

A week later I began praying for Dad using this same prayer picture – seeing him standing on the shore of a lake and Jesus sitting there in a rowboat, waiting for Dad to place himself into Christ’s care.  This prayer helped me a lot, because it wasn’t a desperate prayer like the ones I’d been praying while I nagged, scolded and pleaded with Dad.  The empty, waiting boat was instead an invitation – help is here when you are ready to accept it. 

I found that praying for someone who won’t accept help is a long-term prayer process.  During my journey I often had to say prayers of letting go or relinquishment.   I also had to  use my anger in positive ways by advocating for Dad with doctors and nurses.  And I had to find out how to show Dad that I loved and accepted him, no matter what.

Dad did slowly accept food again and lived for two more years after his surgery.  During his final week on earth, he grabbed my hand and my sister’s hand and prayed, “Thank you God for my two wonderful daughters.”   God had seen us through to the end, and we were all filled with gratitude and love.

Practical tips when someone won’t accept help

Here are some practical things I have found helpful when someone won’t accept help.

Try not to view any potential source of help as the magic cure-all

Help is only effective when the person with problems decides to seriously put in the work to make it work.   As an example, simply getting a person into a rehab program may or may not help your loved one this time around.   Once they’re home, they may go back to their old ways.  Don’t lose heart.  Instead focus on the fact that they someday remember and apply the tools for recovery they met.  Or they may think about someone who was a role model who has recovered. 

Many mental health support groups avoid talking about medications by name.  That’s to prevent us from running out and asking our doctor for this great medicine that worked so well for someone else.  This applies to any medication for physical or mental disorders.  Medications don’t work the same for everyone and there’s an art to finding the right ones at the right dosages for every individual.

Accept the “new normal”

Often when someone is going through difficulties those of us who want to help them have the goal of “getting back to normal” which means having life exactly the way it used to be before this difficulty came along.  After every struggle our loved one’s lives progress and change to a new normal.  What the new normal will look like is different for everyone.

Things will change.  Our loved ones will change.  We will change.  God is the only one who won’t change.  God is the one who restores, reconciles and heals in many different ways.  

Expect an emotional roller coaster  

There will be times when you will be able to set aside the problems of your loved one who won’t accept help and go on with your life.  There will be times when the problems ambush you emotionally.  There will be times when your loved one’s problems will demand immediate attention at the worst possible times, like an emergency phone call coming in the middle of a business meeting. 

All of this is part of the territory.  Emotional roller coasters and times when you really don’t cope well never mean that your faith or trust in God is lacking.   Tell God about them and expect him to help you no matter what.

Find a confidential prayer partner

During my father’s illness my sister and I often prayed together.  There’s something about praying with another person that multiplies the peace-giving power of prayer.  It helps us know that we are not alone and that God cares because someone else cares.

Look for God’s hand at work even when everyone hits rock bottom

It’s natural for us to hope and pray with all of our might to keep our loved ones from hitting rock bottom.  Rock bottom is defined as the lowest point in someone’s condition when things don’t seem like they could get any worse. 

It’s very scary when our loved ones who won’t accept help hit rock bottom.  What rock bottom looks like varies from person to person.

As an example, I knew a woman who had two teen age sons who became drug addicts.  She had a strong, active, make-things-happen personality and the fervency and boldness of her prayers matched her personality.  Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse with her oldest son.  

Her son’s rock bottom day came when he checked himself out of rehab, turned his back on the family and moved in with his drug dealer!   She didn’t hear a thing from him for two weeks.  Then one day he showed up at her door ready to get sober.  He went on to work as a counselor at a drug rehab day program.

No one wants to see a loved one hit rock bottom.  But if and when they do, God may be able to help them see it as the wake-up call they need to realize that they can’t go on living like this and they need to seek help. 

Find hope in the positive stories of others

When you have a loved one with problems, there will be plenty of negative people who say all the wrong things and tell dreadful stories.  Seek out success stories of others who have accepted help and profited it from it.  You can find success stories in magazines, books, online, in support groups and in church prayer groups. 

It’s also best to avoid judgmental people or those who think negatively.  Instead, surround  yourself with people who look on the positive side of life.       

Other helpful articles

Standing in the gap in prayer

Strong Biblical prayer of healing for you or your loved one

Hiding place prayer

How to request and receive confidential prayer

Prayer by proxy when the person you’re praying for isn’t present

How to let go of things using prayer

Hearing God’s voice so you can follow his direction

Journaling as a form of prayer

Copyright Karen Barber 2019.  All rights reserved.