For most of my adult life, I struggled periodically with mild anxiety. Whether it was a busy time at work, a difficult family issue, or just a general sense of worry, I would push through it and write it off as “just the way I am.” In the spring of 2014, however, my anxiety went into overdrive. I work in accounting and finance, and a potential tax issue came up that really threw me for a loop. I found myself with a lot of condemning thoughts, such as: “Why did you not see this coming sooner?”, or “You are going to bring embarrassment to yourself and to the company.” As my anxiety worsened over the course of three or four weeks, I was unable to eat or sleep, and I found that my mind kept re-playing worst case scenarios of how this issue might play out.
I have always been a deeply committed Catholic, and I have a pretty sound personal prayer life. So naturally, I tried all the things that normally work for me when I get anxious – praying through the psalms, counting all the blessings in my life, going to confession, talking the situation over with some good Christian friends – but this time nothing seemed to be working. The anxiety continued to get worse, I dropped 15 pounds off an already slim frame, and the panicked thoughts became my constant companion. I should add that my wife was an awesome support during this time, but even her love and comfort could not shake me out of this rut.
I found myself asking an interesting question: “What do you do when everything that should be working in your faith life, suddenly isn’t working?” Prayer times and church attendance wasn’t bringing me peace, and the supportive words from my wife and friends didn’t seem to help me. And when I tried reasoning by faith with thoughts like “this is not so bad,” or “come on man snap out of it,” they seemed to have no power. I was officially stuck. Looking back on it now, I can see that the evil one had me in a state of spiritual bondage – to the point where I felt like I was trapped in a living hell, with no way out.
Thankfully with God’s grace, my faith was strong enough and my spirit willing enough that I refused to give up. I went to my most trusted Christian friends, and I asked them if they would pray with me for a specific deliverance from what I believed was an evil spirit of irrational fear and anxiety. They readily agreed, and we met at church in a meeting room and started to pray. My friends prayed prayers over me such as: “Jesus deliver our brother from anxiety and fear,” “In the name of Jesus we cast out anything that is keeping our friend in bondage.” “Bless our brother and return him to a place of peace and trust in you.”
Over the course of 30 minutes of prayer, I began to feel a sense of relief that I had desperately been seeking. I felt comfort, warmth, and peace flowing into me. I can say that I literally felt like those evil spirits were being pulled out of me by Jesus. Interestingly, one of my friends shared with me that he had a sense that I might also be dealing with some type of chemical issue in my mind that was compounding my anxiety. He said I should consider using a small daily dose of anti-anxiety medication to help me keep a more even keel during the day.
Now, I won’t tell you that I have never had an anxious moment since that day, but I will tell you that I believe that something miraculous happened in me as a result of that time of prayer. I am literally a new man. I call myself 2.0 – that’s how new I feel! I know there was a spirit of anxiety that was ripped out of me that day, and it has never returned. Over the past seven years, I am happier, more peaceful, more confident and composed at work, more able to relax at night and on the weekends, and healthier. I have gained 40 pounds, but in my case that is a good thing! I have continued on a light dose of anti-anxiety medicine each day, and I believe that it has also been a big part of my healing. I have also joined a gym and I go there regularly to work out and relieve any stress I may be feeling.
I also want to give special credit to my wife and those friends who prayed with me that day. Both my wife and my friends have continued to encourage me and support me over the past seven years since my miraculous healing. Sometimes when we ask the Lord for healing, we hope to get 10, or 15, or 20 percent better. Well, I can confidently tell you that I am about 300 percent better, and I don’t think that I am special. I believe that these sorts of miracles are waiting for you as well!
Ask yourself this question: “Do I have an area of my life where I just feel flat out stuck?” If so, it may be something more than just a problem that can be solved naturally. The evil one might be trying to hold you in bondage in that particular area, and you may need to gather some trusted friends to pray with you for the Lord to cast that issue out of your life. Most importantly, never give up hope in God. The Lord’s promises in the scripture are for all of us, including you!
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls”.(Matthew 11:28)
Top image credit: Illustration of birds flying upward toward God, from Bigstock.com, © by Mike_Kiev, stock photo ID # 12116657
Dave Fitzsimmons is a retired coordinator in Triumph of the Cross Community in Frederick, Maryland, USA. Dave was baptized in the Spirit in his university years and has been in Community now for 40 years.