By Chris Fields

No one visits a healthcare facility for bad results, right? Our arm can be completely inverted, with bones protruding, and we still somehow expect a positive prognosis. “Tell me it’s not broken, doc!” we might say. Then utter disappointment hits. It seems as if hearing what we already know of ourselves hits us a little harder, especially in our health.

A staple procedure when visiting a healthcare facility is a blood pressure check. It’s expected and probably the most highly anticipated procedure, given it provides immediate results. More times than not, it was high the last time it was checked. We know we haven’t done anything to improve the results, yet we still anticipate our blood pressure to be in a healthy range because we know we only have one or two more times for it to be out of range, or we are going to be prescribed medication. 

The standard protocol for giving a hypertension (high blood pressure) diagnosis is two or more elevated readings in a healthcare setting on at least two different days. Depending on age and health status, you may only have annual check-ups and you may have a primary provider who isn’t that medication-happy – but if you keep visiting their office with no improvements, you are going to receive a prescription. The prescription to move more, eat better, cut back on sodium, lose weight (if you are heavier) and reduce stress normally comes before they give us a pharmaceutical prescription. 

As Christians, some of us may decide not to accept any human prescription and instead attempt to pray our blood pressure back into range. High blood pressure, for the most part, is a controllable health condition dictated by our lifestyle, and adverse outcomes related to behavior can’t just be prayed away. Yes, prayer works, and it can work in the instance of controlling our blood pressure, but only if we know how to pray in relation to it.

Eating healthier, managing our weight, controlling our stress levels and increasing our physical activity levels are all valid lifestyle changes in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels – but adopting these lifestyle changes can be difficult. Our body is still going to crave what it’s used to, and consistently overcoming those desires will be easier said than done. 

Reducing sodium is going to be hard, especially when you find out sodium is in everything except water. Managing stress is going to be hard when you have kids in sports. The opposing teams’ parents are going to make sure of that. We need help overcoming ourselves and our natural desire to give into behaviors that elevate our blood pressure. We need help managing those behaviors.

Our prayer should be that He soften our hearts to His wisdom and strengthen us to act in obedience to His designed plan for our health. Designing our health, healing and restoration is what He did for us. Acting in that wisdom is our responsibility. Let’s seek it out and act on it.

Chris Fields is executive director of H.E.A.L. Mississippi, a nonprofit whose mission is to reduce the impact of diabetes and other cardiometabolic disease in Mississippi. Our vision is to establish a high-quality, easily accessible standard of care for diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases. God created us to be whole and healthy, and He’s made provisions for us to walk in His divine plan related to our health and healing.