For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

A man couldn't drive over bridges without feeling like he was going to lose control of the steering wheel and go over the side. He became almost paralyzed by fear, breaking into a sweat and almost unable to breathe. He would call for Jesus to get him over the bridge - and He always did - but the fear would come back the next time. He avoided using bridges and planned trips so he would never have the experience.

Unless you have experienced the chilling choke hold of fear, you cannot begin to imagine the terror of its presence or the horror of its possible return. No matter what you have been through - or are going through - Jesus wants to set you free (read Isaiah 61:1-3). The Lord has a specific plan for your freedom. He knows exactly what you need, when you need it, and where it should come from. And when Jesus does the work, He does it right (John 8:36).

How to overcome fear:

  • You can't do it. Mere human reasoning isn't enough. In the heat of battle your own ideas can appear quite clever. The temptation is to lean on your own understanding rather than trusting in the Lord with all your heart. The Lord promises to direct your steps when you acknowledge Him in all your ways (Prov. 3:5-6).

  • Submit to God. Submitting means letting go of the reins and putting them in the hands of someone superior in rank. If self-control has netted this fear in your life, does that not clearly reveal the futility of such a choice? God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:6-8).

  • Seek God first. It's necessary to get right with God first. David said, I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears (Ps. 34:4-7). Decide to resist the devil and all his temptations to revert to your fearful behaviors. Remember, God is more powerful than all of the devil's tricks.

  • Analyze your fear. First pray, asking God to reveal all the fears that have been controlling you. Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you confess, renounce, and overcome every fear by faith in Christ.

  • Identify all fear objects. Consider this list of fears that plague many people and determine when you first experienced the fear. Determine the lies behind every phobia and how you have been living under the control of fear rather than living by faith in God.

    Fear of Satan

    Fear of divorce

    Fear of death

    Fear of not being loved by God

    Fear of never being loved

    Fear of marriage

    Fear of rejection by people.

    Fear of never getting married

    Fear of never having children

    Fear of disapproval

    Fear of embarrassment

    Fear of failure

    Fear of being/becoming homosexual

    Fear of financial problems

    Fear of going crazy

    Fear of the death of a loved one

    Fear of the future

    Fear of confrontation

    Fear of being victimized by crime

    Fear of committing the unpardonable sin

    Fear of specific people, animals, or objects

    Other fears the Lord brings to mind

  • Analyze your lifestyle. How has fear prevented you from living a reasonable and responsible life? Phobias affect how you live and think, and prevent you from living a life as a witness to the freedom in Christ.

  • Form a plan of action. Start with baby steps, ever moving toward slightly larger steps than the one before. Example: A plan for someone afraid to take an elevator may include: 1. Look at elevators. 2. Stand in a stationary elevator with a trusted friend. 3. Stand in a stationary elevator alone. 4. Travel up or down one floor with your friend. 5. Travel one floor alone with your friend waiting for you. 6. Travel two or three floors with your friend. 7. Travel two or three floors alone, with your friend waiting for you. 8. Travel on an elevator alone without your friend being there. Depending on the severity of the fear, these steps could take place in one day, or over a period of days, weeks, even months.

From Freedom From Fear: Overcoming Worry & Anxiety by Neil T. Anderson and Rich Miller, copyright (c) 1999. Used by permission. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore.

Neil T. Anderson is president of Freedom in Christ Ministries and a much sought-after speaker on Christ-centered living. He is the author of The Bondage Breaker, The Common Made Holy, A Way of Escape, and Daily in Christ.Rich Miller is national director of Prayer and Spiritual Renewal with Freedom in Christ Ministries. He is the co-author of Reality Check, Awesome God, and Walking in Freedom.