When anxious and fearful thoughts come flooding in, it can be very difficult to quiet your mind and connect with God in prayer. In the middle of a panic attack, the last thing on your mind is getting alone with God. But, prayer can be very helpful in stopping those confusing and terrifying thoughts.
Learning how to pray can calm an anxious mind and fill your heart with peace:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).
When anxious thoughts, fear, panic or worry come against you, present your requests to God. Pray and petition him, and as you do, his peace which goes beyond all understanding will guide your hearts and mind in Christ. This is more than just a recommendation—it’s a truth that can transform a fearful mind into a mind of peace.
Here are some steps that have helped me connect with God:
Faith is essential. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We must believe that God will respond to our prayers. If we doubt, we are like a wave tossed about by the sea, unsettled in all our ways (James 1:5). Here’s how Jesus explains it:
Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it” (Mark 11:22-24).
2. God hears you
I think we’ve all wondered, “God, do you really hear me?” We pray and pray and it seems like nothing changes. We beg for freedom, we cry out for a respite of peace, but it seems so elusive. We hear a thought in our head, God does not hear my prayers and we think it’s our thought. Quietly, we agree with this subtle attack of the devil. The enemy constantly accuses us and lies to us. He is the father of lies (John 10:10) and he spews his lies and confusion all over of us to thwart God’s beautiful plans for our lives. We cannot give into this voice that says God does not hear our prayers. God listens.
Another subtle lie from the enemy is that we are not worthy enough for God to hear our prayers. It’s just not true! When you receive Christ, you are instantly made worthy. He took our sins and we took his righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says it this way, “God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Now that you are righteous in Christ, you can boldly come to the throne of grace in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
3. Know who you are in Christ
Too often, we approach God in prayer with a sinner mentality. “Lord, I’m a wretched sinner. Woe is me! I’m not worthy to come before you.” This way of thinking is wrong. Once you receive Christ, you are no longer a slave—you are a child of God!
“You are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you” (Galatians 4:7).
In Christ, you are a child of the Most High God. You are special! You are cherished, loved, protected and pursued by God. You are his child!
4. Words carry power
We must be very careful about the words we speak. Words carry incredible spiritual power. Death and life are in the power of our words (Proverbs 18:21). Salvation comes when we confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts (Romans 10:9). Whether good or evil, people speak what’s in their hearts. Jesus said it this way, “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart” (Matthew 12:34, 35).
If you want to experience peace, don’t speak evil, doubting words. If you feel an anxious thought coming on, don’t say, “I’m probably going to have another panic attack.” No! Don’t speak those words. Rather, pray something like this, “Father, my body feels anxious right now, but you said that you will give me perfect peace when my mind is focused upon you. Right now, Lord, I fix my thoughts upon you. I trust in you!”
5. Build your prayer muscle
Prayer is a lot like a muscle. You need to work on it, strengthen it and build it up. Don’t wait till you need it to start strengthening it.
A professional athlete doesn’t start working out the day before a big race. It takes months and months, even years, to develop the ability to race well. In the same way, we should pray daily, flexing and strengthening our prayer-time muscle.
“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next” (1 Timothy 4:8).
Prayer: Father, this week, teach me to pray effectively. Show me how to build and strengthen my prayer muscle so that when anxiety, panic or fear hits, I can rest in the confidence that you are with me.
Here are some encouraging books on Prayer: