By Toni Taylor
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Fear is something I’ve struggled with for most of my life. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic attack disorder. For years I have lived a life always waiting for the other foot to drop. Always worrying, always wondering and fearing when the next anxiety or panic attack would hit. That worry carried over into so many aspects of my life.
Thirteen years ago, when I accepted the Lord as my personal Lord and Savior, I began asking God to heal me of this. I can’t count the times I have cried out to our Heavenly Father and have asked Him to heal me of this disorder. Thirteen years of praying and asking and I still have my anxiety and panic attacks. Some would ask, “Aren’t you frustrated and even angry that He hasn’t taken it from you?” To answer honestly, there are times that I am frustrated and confused as to why He would not choose to heal me of this. Then I read in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul had been given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. He pleaded with God three times that it might depart from him. And God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
After 13 years of asking and still having the anxiety and panic attacks, I can now say that I am thankful for that thorn! Weird right? How can someone be thankful for that? But what God has shown me through all of this is that when these attacks happen, it brings me straight to our Heavenly Father. When I am weak and afraid, it’s the power of prayer that gives me the ability to deal with this. It is God making me strong because of His strength. He has shown me that there are times when He calms the storm of my anxiety and there are times that the attacks do happen. However, He is right there to safely walk me through the storm.
There is a battle that we are in every day. A spiritual battle where the enemy wants us to live in fear. He doesn’t want us praying and crying out to God. He wants us to live in bondage to fear and worry and when we do, we are taking our eyes off of the Lord and focusing on our problems. Praying is the last thing the enemy wants us to do. He will try to discourage us any way he can. Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6:10-20 to put on the full armor of God, to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Without prayer, all the armor in the world would be of no use.
It is the power of prayer that has allowed me to live my life with my anxiety disorder. There were years when it was so bad that I could hardly drive and never wanted to leave home. Finally, no longer wanting to be in bondage to fear, I turned to God and the power of prayer to help me overcome this debilitating fear. A year later, I went from not wanting to leave my home, to driving up and down the west coast for my kids’ sports! My doctor could not believe how much better I was doing and asked me how I was able to overcome this severe anxiety without medication. My answer: “My personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and prayer!”
Do I still have anxiety and panic attacks? Yes. Do I still fear driving or being in large crowds? Yes. Am I in bondage to that fear? No. I am no longer in bondage to fear for I am a child of God! God has given us this amazing weapon that He has instructed us to use on our journey of faith to protect us and provide power when we get discouraged– it’s called prayer!
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba Father’.” Romans 8:15