5 Tips for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety through Spiritual Warfare
(Or Your Prescription for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety through Spiritual Warfare)
What are you worried about? What are you afraid of?
Anxiety is expensive, debilitating, and keeps you from the Fully Alive life Jesus came to give us.
With fear and anxiety your thoughts and emotions seem to control you instead of you controlling them.
Thank God there is a way out! “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (1 Timothy 1:7)
But how do you get there?
I’ve walked out of fear and anxiety to a life of true joy and fulfillment. I know this prescription will work for you too, a prescription that’s backed up by both medical science and God’s Word.
These steps will dramatically improve your mental/emotional wellbeing. They’re not complicated, but they do require intentional effort. There’s no one-time fix. Like most prescriptions from your doctor, this one reads “Take One Daily.”
The doctor is in. Let’s get started.
- Optimize your Physical Health
God created us as integrated, whole human beings. The physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual aspects of you all affect one another. Anxiety usually comes with a host of physical symptoms, while many medical illnesses themselves cause anxiety or similar distress. It may seem hard to know which came first.
Research shows that about 1 in 5 patients seeing a primary care physician for general medical concerns had symptoms enough to be diagnosed with an underlying anxiety disorder. These symptoms are real.
Caring for your body affects your psychological wellbeing. For example, doesn’t the world seem brighter after a good night’s sleep or an hour of exercise?
Your brain needs good raw materials in order to function well – a diet of unprocessed foods such as lean protein, fruits and vegetables, some healthy fats, whole grains, and lots of water. And strive for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days and 7-8 hours of sleep most nights.
Get a medical evaluation if you haven’t had one recently. Review your entire list of medications and supplements with your doctor or pharmacist for those you could reduce or eliminate or that might be causing side effects.
Optimizing your physical health will help optimize your emotional health.
- Choose your Thoughts
Life is difficult. Past and/or present circumstances offer many reasons for fear and anxiety.
But regardless of circumstances, you have more ability to choose your thoughts and feelings than you realize. You can choose thoughts of bitterness, negativity, entitlement, powerlessness, and the past. Or you can focus on what is true, on gratitude, on what you can do, on helping others, and on God.
It’s not “mind over matter.” But we usually attribute too little power to our thoughts rather than too much.
Paul gave us a clear prescription for thinking. Focus your thoughts on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. (Philippians 4:8) Work to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
How you think about problems makes the difference. If you’ve lost your job, be grateful for your health, nurture connections with family and friends, and focus on finding or creating meaningful work. If your lifestyle has contributed to poor health, develop new habits, and cooperate with your doctors while continuing to pray for healing. If your marriage is troubled, learn about healthy forgiveness and communication, become the spouse God needs you to be, and fight FOR your marriage.
Choosing your thoughts will change your actions, and over time your feelings will change too.
- Resist the Enemy.
Can you imagine Peter, John, or Paul wringing their hands or losing any sleep worrying about what the devil might be doing?
Our enemy is more violent and determined than any ISIS terrorist or multi-drug-resistant superbug bacteria. But he is a defeated foe. We don’t have to go out and fight the devil; Jesus already did that – and won!
You will never live in victory while coming against Satan from a position of fear and anxiety.
There’s a huge difference between awareness and worry, between resistance and fear. When on Earth Jesus faced evil more directly than we ever will, yet He was not afraid or anxious. He faced evil (and Satan personally) with calmness and complete authority.
We are to do the same.
Fear led Peter to sin in denying Jesus. But only weeks later he stood before the authorities fearless, unfazed by their threats (Acts 4:13). Peter overcame fear through spending time with Jesus, seeing Him alive, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. You can too.
- Focus on your Mission
Some see spiritual warfare as going out swashbuckling against the devil, whirling around spiritual weapons against anyone and anything in their way.
Don’t do that. It will only leave you worn out and wounded.
Spiritual warfare has little to do with success, comfort, or eliminating problems. In the cosmic battle of the universe, spiritual warfare is not about who is stronger – God or Satan. If it were, this war would be long over!
The issue is your heart. Who you will believe? Who will you obey? Who will you follow, respect, listen to, honor, worship, and love? It’s your heart both the enemy and God are after.
Jesus came to Earth “to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) In following His mission Jesus defeated the devil, but He always remained focused on His purpose of seeking and saving the lost.
It’s not your job to defeat the enemy; Jesus already did that. But you DO have a mission.
Your job is to allow God to transform you to become like His Son Jesus, and along the way to bless others. As long as you’re alive God has something for you to do. Who is God placing in your path for you to bless?
Focus on your mission, and you’ll have much less energy left over for fear and worry.
- Never Give Up
You might be tempted to quit if one battle against fear and anxiety doesn’t lead to permanent freedom. But lasting joy requires your continued involvement.
The best picture of spiritual warfare is standing:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” (Ephesians 6:13–14, NIV)
You do things such as guard your heart and mind, stick close to other believers, and speak words of truth. But most important and underlying all your activity is your position of standing firm.
Your very existence as an overcoming believer is proof that the enemy has lost. You simply take your stand on God’s side and refuse to let anything move you. (Acts 20:24)
May you take your daily prescription, and stand firm in the sound mind God has for you.
Dr Carol’s book Overcoming Fear and Anxiety through Spiritual Warfare will help you:
- understand the roots of your fear and anxiety
- learn ways to take control of your thoughts
- discover six specific strategies of spiritual warfare that will help you walk in victory.
Request your expanded downloadable version of this 5-part Prescription.