Most people have been there at some time in their lives—a combination of feeling out of control, frightened, nervous, and worried, all rolled up into one. It leaves us feeling either paralyzed by fear or acting irrationally. Panic is part of our natural, God-given defense system, alerting us to some kind of imminent danger. It stirs the emotions and gets our bodies worked up and ready to go. We accept this with no problem when physical danger presents itself, but this is rare enough that we do not think of it often. However, panic can set in due to any number of circumstances—sometimes so gradually that we do not even recognize it for what it is. In fact, it can become so severe that it mimics the symptoms of a mild heart attack.
Panic is real, and it can become a real problem. Sometimes the pressures of life build to a crescendo that simply overwhelms us, and we experience all the signs of panic. Sometimes the anxieties that have formed throughout our lives are re-triggered by an event, person, or emotion, and so we panic. Sometimes we experience unusual situations for which we are ill-prepared, and we panic. At times this might be as mild as a catch in the back of the throat, but it could also be severe enough to call 911. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. Some people might have enough of a problem to require medication to help. Many could likely benefit from counseling. However, without doubt, all would benefit from prayer.
When David found himself troubled, afraid, unable to sleep, and brought to tears from his anxiety, he reached out to God in prayer (Psa. 6:1-7). He understood his own weakness very well, but he also recognized the LORD’s strength. He knew he needed God—desperately. David’s fear for his life was very real, and he felt it. But we can find comfort in prayer too, even while addressing less drastic problems. However, David’s comfort—and confidence—came from his faith, a faith that trusted in the power of prayer and in the LORD who listened (Psa. 6:8-10). Prayer does not make all our problems go away, but it does place them in the hands of the only One who can. In fact, often our prayers should be for strength to endure rather than simply the elimination of the problem. After all, prayer must be in accordance with God’s will (1 Jn. 5:14). Regardless, prayer can help immensely when stress, problems, and the world in general bear down on us—sometimes in unusual and unexpected ways. I wish I could tell you that feelings of panic will just magically disappear, but I cannot. However, I can, with confidence, tell you the first thing you can do that will genuinely help, and that is why I encourage you to pray.