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I’ve never been one to pray out loud very much.
To be completely honest, I’ve never even considered prayer much of a spiritual gift.
Still, I’m not one of those to shy away from it; I’m happy to pray out loud in public when asked (obviously it’s not a fear of crowds or public speaking that hinders me 😉
If I had to dig really deep with myself, I’d say my tendency not to pray out loud centers more around my time issues. Not only is it hard for me to find pockets of free time in my day, but even if I do, it’s exponentially more difficult for me to sit still during that time!
Still, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us to:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t interpret that verse to mean we’re supposed to pray out loud all throughout our day, even as we walk through the grocery store and the office. Rather, I believe it commands us to invite God into all aspects of our life and put on the mind and heart of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), even in the most trivial parts of our day.
Yet what struck me in a new way this morning to pray out loud was something I learned about myself recently. If you’ve been following my story over the past few months, you already know I’ve been suffering from panic attacks for the first time in my life. While they’ve subsided greatly compared to a couple months ago, I learned a physiological key to helping them stop before they start.
That’s right. When fear and panic start to grip you, our bodies first instinct is to inhale. Yet our lungs cannot take in more air until we first exhale. Once we realize we can’t take in more air, we start to panic further, and thus begins the tragic cycle.
Yet if we start by completely emptying our lungs an breathing from our diaphragm (easier to accomplish stomach breathing when lying on the floor on your back), our body gets the oxygen it needs and begins to establish a regular breathing pattern again.
So why is it important to pray out loud? In order to speak, you MUST exhale. So when you call on the name of Jesus audibly, not only is there spiritual power in saying His name (1 Cor 1:2), but there is a physiological reaction that stops the fear once you exhale upon speaking.
As I felt the panic creeping in to me this morning, I simply said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” out loud and realized that not only was I calling on the most powerful name in the universe, but I was simultaneously releasing the air gripped in my chest so I could breathe in fresh life!
I realize now that panic attacks are real, and while they may all come at different intensities, this simple rule has helped me stop them before they start. Regardless of whether or not you suffer from the same malady, I believe we can all break free from whatever grips us, and we can begin that freedom when we pray out loud.
How do you face fear when it presents itself to you?