Many people, upon learning that I had been delivered from crippling panic attacks through a relationship with and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, turned away in disappointment. They had hoped for a wonder drug, some kind of 12-step program, or even a mantra they could use to stave off the attacks. None of those methods ever worked for me. Jesus Christ, the bondage breaker, broke that awful grip and set me truly free.
Though raised in a godly family, I had no concept of the power and authority in the name of Jesus Christ. I had heard the Scriptures referred to as the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) but never been taught how to wield that sword. Indeed, I considered the whole armor of God described in Ephesians 6 a figurative concept. I mean, how do you put on a “belt of truth,” a “breastplate of righteousness,” or shoes composed of the “gospel of peace,” or a “helmet of salvation.” The shield of faith made some sense, but the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, did not. I had never learned to speak Scripture against an attack. Thus I floundered, paralyzed, for 16 years, unable to function socially or even personally.
My situation reached a head one dark October night in 1991. As I contemplated suicide God spoke, not audibly but as a thought placed in my mind: Have you ever truly lived for Me? I answered “No,” and a second thought took shape: Have you ever truly trusted Me? After my second “No” God asked, Are you ready to trust Me now?
This time I responded, “Yes,” knelt beside my bed and poured out my heart to God. I came to Him on His terms, acknowledged my sin and need for a Savior, confessed my sins, and submitted my life and will to Jesus Christ.
We naturally hope that one prayer will ‘fix’ everything; that, having committed everything to the Lord, He will now go before us, plowing all the obstacles off life’s path and leaving only the good. If He did that, however, we would not need Him anymore. When things go too well, our prayer life tends to suffer and devotion to God often wanes. Conversely, the same can occur when our situation remains the same or worsens, and we feel our prayers are futile and God does not care. This is why Scripture admonishes us to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17), to watch and pray (Matt. 26:41), to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). Prayer is our lifeline, our connection with God. Through it we not only bring our requests to Him, He also speaks to us. That heartfelt prayer was the first of countless more I would offer over the rest of my life.
I awoke the next morning unusually refreshed, cautiously optimistic but with renewed hope, a hope that faded when that day turned out like all the rest. I floundered in the same rut, suffering still another attack at noon in a fast-food drive-thru. At the end of the day I left my job, numb and defeated.
Reaching home, I pulled up to my mailbox. It held but a single item: a flyer from the women’s ministry at the church I had vowed never to enter again. At seven that evening a guest speaker was giving a talk on overcoming negative circumstances in one’s life. I first considered throwing it away. After all, I had listened to several “self-help” speeches over the years. As I entered my house, however, it slowly dawned on me that a miracle had occurred. I had left that church six months ago with no further communication with anyone, yet someone there remembered and reached out to me. That I had received only that piece of mail increased its significance. God had indeed intervened, He had not forsaken me!
I grabbed a quick supper, changed my clothes, and drove to the church. The room was full and, feeling my customary reticence and the knots forming in my throat and stomach, I settled into a chair near the door.
I honestly do not remember much of Marguerite’s speech, but in her voice and countenance I saw genuine warmth, compassion, kindness, and joy. She positively radiated Christ’s love. I decided to try to meet with her.
After her talk the women flocked around her. I stood on the outside, moving ahead when I could, only to have someone crowd in front. Twenty minutes passed. The crowd never lessened. Perhaps the church would give me her contact information later, I thought, and started to turn away.
At that moment, Marguerite turned and gave me the warmest, kindest smile I had ever seen. “Could I talk to you?” I faltered, and she laid her hand on my arm and guided me to a seat where we could talk alone.
I thought I would have to confess every sin I had ever committed and the entire string of events leading to my deplorable state. But as we sat down she told me, “God is greater than anything that comes against us.”
With that sentence indescribable warmth flooded my soul. Marguerite asked about my situation and I described the panic attacks.
“You are under attack by a spirit of fear,” she told me. “Panic is a spirit of fear; but as a believer in Jesus you have authority over that spirit, in the name of Jesus, to bind it away from you.”
This blew me away. Bind panic? It didn’t seem possible. No church I had ever attended taught anything like that.
Marguerite referred me to 2 Timothy: 1: 7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
She asked about my situation in Christ. Omitting the suicide episode, I described my commitment the evening before. She told me then that, whenever the panic manifested, I should speak to that spirit: “In the name of Jesus Christ I bind you, foul spirit of fear, away from me. In Jesus’ name, begone and do not return. Lord Jesus, I praise thee! Please fill that spot with Your love.”
Because that spirit had gripped me so long, it would resist at first. Marguerite assured me that as I flexed my spiritual muscle and continued, in Jesus’ name, to bind and command it to leave, it had no choice but to release me.
She then prayed with me. Never had I heard anyone pray so powerfully! This lady knew who she was in Christ. She prayed with authority, glorifying God and the Lord Jesus and binding that demonic spirit away from me in Jesus’ name. I prayed also, reaffirming my faith and trust in Jesus and my intention to walk obedient to His word.
The room seemed brighter after we finished, and I felt a peace that truly surpassed all understanding. But Marguerite went a step further. She would stand with me in prayer, praying with and for me every day. She told me to call whenever I felt overwhelmed. The hope that had dwindled earlier that day rekindled into a roaring fire as we exchanged phone numbers. Right then, she became a true friend.
In addition to our prayer time, Marguerite counseled me to read the Bible daily, noting and memorizing passages I could speak to ward off an attack. She emphasized speaking the Word, as opposed to reading it only.
“The Word is your sword,” she told me. “When you speak the Word you send it forth, and it will not return void.”
That list became a more powerful weapon than I could ever have imagined. I practiced speaking with authority in the name of Jesus and giving glory to God. I had a small Gideon New Testament presented to me in the fifth grade, when The Gideons were still allowed into the schools to share God’s Word. It fit perfectly in my purse, and every time I felt fear or doubt I would take that out and thumb through in search of a passage. Usually I did not know what to look for; but invariably the right passage would leap off the page and I seized it immediately.
One question nagged me: If I had successfully bound this spirit, why did it return? It might have had me in a headlock once, but shouldn’t binding it once be enough? Rush hour traffic, walking along crowded sidewalks, and waiting in fast-food drive-thru lanes still posed problems. Sitting at an intersection one afternoon at a light that went through five complete changes before I got through triggered such an attack I felt my body would literally explode. I grasped the steering wheel in a death grip and pressed my forehead against it while gasping over and over, “I bind you, foul spirit of fear, in the name of Jesus! Leave and do not return!”
My chest tightened. I could scarcely speak. The air darkened and I realized I was blacking out. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry. . .
Suddenly the panic lifted. I straightened up and saw the light turning green. I drove home, praising God for His deliverance.
I had barely walked through my front door when Marguerite called, asking if I was all right. A half hour before, she sensed I was in trouble and began praying. The Holy Spirit had alerted her as I floundered and, praise God, she acted immediately! The Bible talks about strength in numbers. Ecclesiastes 4:12 notes that, “if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” How precious is a friend who does not forsake you amid the storm!
But why did this keep coming back? Some years later a pastor explained there are hierarchies of demons. The spirit assailing me answered to a superior, and when that spirit started losing me, things did not go well for him. According to the pastor, the Hebrew text described his punishment as being literally hacked to pieces. Naturally he would claw and grasp to retain his hold!
And although Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin, death, and the devil, God allows the devil to deceive us for a time, until that glorious day He throws him into the lake of fire. This time of testing shows us our need to depend upon God and serves to separate the true believers from the nominal and nonbelievers (1 Peter 1:6,7); the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats. A passage in Ephesians, a must-have in the believer’s arsenal and one that I cling to until this day, graphically describes our foe and provides the weapons required to defeat him:
Eph. 6:10-18 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
James 1:12 offers a promise: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”
That spirit of fear had a strong grip. Nevertheless, as I withstood him in the name of Jesus his grip loosened. Sometimes I still left a grocery store, but after a few minutes praying in my car I went right back in and finished my shopping. I ventured into the mall one Sunday afternoon, only to run back out and drive home. Kneeling beside my bed, I poured out my frustrations to God. As I finished praying, God placed the thought in my mind: Get up and go back down there. I obeyed. Praying the entire way, I parked the car and walked to the entrance—and then proceeded inside. I strolled the entire length and back again, casually glancing at the store windows and even entering some shops. An hour later I strolled back out, praising God for His victory! Six months later the attacks stopped completely.
My last panic attack? In June of 1992 I bought a brand-new Honda Accord coupe. The day I bought it I stopped at a grocery store on the way home. I was coming up the second aisle when it suddenly hit me that, not only had I not locked the car, I had left the spare key in plain sight on the dash! I flew outside. Luckily my car was still there and I grabbed the spare key and locked the doors before returning to the store. A stocker had started unloading my cart but stopped when I bounded back in and resumed my shopping.
Today I walk into any store any time I wish. The size of a crowd no longer matters. I sit in the middle of jam-packed rooms, at traffic lights, or in drive-thru lanes with no anxiety whatsoever. I can strike up conversations with complete strangers, many of whom compliment my lovely smile. Walking and communing with God is pure joy. As I seek Him He reveals more of Himself to me. I begin each day with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the loving God who created and redeemed me, and sustains me each day.
I hope that, in telling my story, others come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to freedom from whatever binds them. I will be happy to stand with anyone in prayer, encouragement, and support. Just send me a comment or an email to SAKopp11@outlook.com. I will not misuse or sell your address. God bless you!
Learn more about my story here.
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