In the summer of 1985, I began to experience sudden attacks of fear which were absolutely overwhelming and debilitating. It was literally the worst thing I had ever been through, and I didn’t know what to do.
The attacks would come in waves, stay for a few minutes and then dissipate. In their absence, I would begin to fear having another attack which inevitably would bring one on. It was most horrible.
But I had an idea. There was a verse I had memorized from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It said,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)
So I made a plan – the next time I got an attack, I would begin to pray like crazy. I decided not to pray for myself, but for others, largely because that was my understanding of “supplication”, that it was to pray for others. Now, today I wouldn’t necessarily say that this verse is only referring to prayer for others, but that’s the way I applied it back then.
The next attack came. I started praying, a bit like a madman, lifting up anyone I could think of…and then before too long, it was gone. But then the thought came – what if it comes again? And it did, so I went to prayer “battle stations” again, praying like crazy for anyone and everyone I could think of. And the peace came…again.
I think I might have had one more attack after that, coming in very weak intensity, but then the problem was solved. Some months later, the thought of a panic attack seemed to almost bring one on, but by this time I was ready – I began to pray and I don’t think it really got any traction.
Lessons? Well, if you struggle with panic attacks, I guess my application is obvious: turn to the Lord in prayer. There are, of course, other ways you can seek help and it might be wise to look to someone who is an expert in these matters and who will bring God’s word to bear also. Godly people have been helped by medication in dealing with issues like this. But, that said, the Bible is absolutely true, and prayer will always be the greatest key to peace.