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Pneumatic Medicine and Mental Health

I spoke with the Pennsylvania Society of Chaplains in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on October 11, 2016 about my ministry work with mental illness, patients, and staff in 3 psychiatric hospitals for 28 years with what I call “Pneumatic Medicine.” Pneumatic Medicine is the combination of prayer with medical and psychiatric expertise. I have discovered that the power of prayer is remarkable in a psychiatric ward. Many patients have a spiritual awareness that you do not see in other hospital settings. The profound recognition of prayer and for the patients to pray for others offers healing to their minds and lives (James 5:16, “Pray for one another that you may be healed”). Though I pray for many patients, I also ask if they will pray for me. I have heard the most beautiful and caring prayers come from people who may be depressed or schizophrenic.  Sometimes I have to look up and see if this was the same person who asked for prayer. And, I have never been turned down for a prayer in 28 years in the psychiatric hospital. That is what I mean by Pneumatic Prayer—Holy Spirit inspired prayer.  #pneumaticmedicine

The stigma of mental illness is receding but needs more attention. Thanks to the efforts of famous people such as Sheila Walsh, Brook Shields, Jim Carey, and many others, we are revealing our own issues with mental illness. I have personally noticed in the churches which I have served as a pastor, that when I mention depression or mental illness in a pastoral prayer or sermon, inevitably someone calls or makes an appointment to talk with me about their struggle with manic-depressive problems or other mental health issues. #endthestigma

The church needs to deal head-on with the topic of mental health.

The church needs to deal head-on with the topic of mental health. We easily speak and ask for prayer for many illness (and we should), but there is still a stigma with mental illness in our society. I believe when the church welcomes and understands that mental health diseases are just as serious as physical illnesses, we will make a big difference in providing the healing of Jesus to the whole person. #mentalillness

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Category: Fall 2016, Ministry

About the Author: Cletus L. Hull, III, M.Div. (Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry), D.Min. (Fuller Theological Seminary), Ph.D. (Regent University), has served as a pastor with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for 32 years and psychiatric chaplain for 30 years. He teaches courses in New Testament at Biblical Life Institute in Freeport, Pennsylvania. He has researched the growing Disciples of Christ churches in Puerto Rico and has an interest in the significance of the Stone-Campbell churches in American Christianity. His article, "My Church is a Mental Hospital" appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Healing Line. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Cross and the Power of the Spirit in the Corinthian Church: Grounding Pneumatic Experiences and Renewal Studies in the Cross of Christ (Pickwick, 2018). Twitter: @cletus_hull, Facebook,

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