Could this prayer have saved Robin Williams life? | The Practical Disciple

Could This Prayer Have Saved Robin William’s Life?

robinPrayer can transform broken lives. But, do you know how to pray effectively when life hurts? I want to tackle one aspect of that in today’s post as I ponder the recent loss of the comedic genius Robin Williams. This post seems particularly timely during this week of National Suicide Prevention Week. Also, Sept. 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day Be sure and read this whole post because I have a free resource for you at the end.

People around the world deeply grieved the loss of actor Robin Williams. My daughter who is 20 upon hearing of his death rented “Hook” and watched it immediately. She just needed to once again brush up against a man who had brought her joy and laughter throughout her childhood. William’s words, “To die would be a grand adventure.” and Captain Hook’s response, “Death is the only adventure you have left!” were quite haunting as we watched the film together.

Why would he take his life? Here was a man who seemed to have it all: a lovely family, wealth, love, and respect. What more could you ask for? Yet, he was apparently very broken and hurting inside.

At some level I can empathize. I have not struggled with addiction, but I have struggled with depression. I was voted class clown by my peers in high school because I’m a funny guy who can’t contain himself created to perform. I don’t expect to be on a big screen, but I do love acting and making people laugh. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s all to easy to be the center of attention, loved, respected, and yet hurting and alone. I had a good life and I hurt.

I can also tell you without reservation prayer can change everything. In my deepest bout with depression in college, I found myself one evening on my knees crying out in prayer. I was done. I had had it. I just wanted to stop hurting. Thankfully God heard my cry and intervened. If not, I wouldn’t be here.

I don’t know if Robin Williams was a man of prayer or not. I did read one article that asserted he had given his life to Christ during a period of rehab. He spoke out in an interview once about how rehab brings you to an awareness of God. Perhaps, he prayed night and day. I don’t know. But I had several epiphanies about praying when life hurts recently, and one in particular came to mind as I considered William’s suicide.

In Psalm 86, A prayer of David begins with these words,

Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me;
For I am afflicted and needy.
Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to You I cry all day long.

Make glad the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

I noticed something odd about David’s petition. Specifically, David does not ask God to change his circumstance, rather instead he pleads with God saying, “Preserve my soul” and “Make glad my soul.” He prays for God to protect and transform his inner well-being in the midst of a turbulent time.

I have to confess, I tend to lean on God to change the circumstances outside of me. That’s not wrong, but what this Psalm teaches us is that crying out for God to preserve and protect your soul is perhaps a much higher priority. Why? Let’s face it. Your circumstances may not improve. You cannot control your circumstances. The only thing you can truly control is your response. And your response…well, it’s going to get driven by the state of your soul.

Your inner state will determine your outer action. If you are in a fearful place, you will respond to circumstance defensively. If you are in a angry place, you may lash back or run away. If you are in a depressed place, you may shut down. If you are hopeless, you just might take your life.

Was Robin William’s praying for God to make glad his soul? Was he praying for God to preserve his soul? Only God knows. If he wasn’t, perhaps, he might still be with us had he. I wish he could have gotten help and could still be with us. We cannot help Robin now, but may be we can help someone else.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction or depression, please get help. Begin by praying for God to preserve your soul. Plead for God to make your soul happy and for your sake and everyone around you, get help and don’t give up. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Life can be tough and even unbearable, but God can help and so can others.

I am in the process of editing a free resource that will soon be available, “How to Pray When Life Hurts.” In it I share more principles about how to pray powerfully when life seems to dog pile on top of you. I have been there. I can honestly say, I would not be here today if God hadn’t dramatically responded to my desperate cries. Prayer made a difference.


If you would like a free copy of my guide on how to pray when life hurts when I release it just enter your name and email address below. You’ll also receive free instant access to a sermon I did recently entitled, “Praying During Difficult Times.”

p.s. Please share this post with a friend if you are concerned about their well-being. Perhaps, it will make a difference or open a conversation that does.
John Arnold
The Practical Disciple

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