One night, exhausted from a hard week of work, I got in the bathtub to relax my tired body while my wife, Kathy, lay sick in her eighth month of pregnancy. An hour later, I started to get out of the tub. But as I stood up, an intense thought hit me: I am going to die!
The thought caused panic to rush through my whole being like stampeding cattle. My entire body trembled as my heart pounded out of my chest. Strength drained from my limbs as I fell back into the water, shouting desperately for Kathy to help me. She rushed into the bathroom where I lay helpless. I managed to mumble something about having a heart attack. She strained to help me out of the bathtub, and then she ran into the kitchen to call our family doctor.
He relayed a few questions to me and concluded that I was having a panic attack, not a heart attack. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a journey through a living hell.
That first panic attack initiated a constant state of fear in me. All throughout the day, high levels of anxiety overwhelmed my soul like waves crashing on the seashore in a violent storm.
As difficult as the days were, the nights were much worse. I imagined terrible things happening to me, or envisioned myself doing dreadful acts. I often wondered if I were losing my mind. I could not sleep much, and I soaked the sheets with sweat every night.
Two years passed with no relief. Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I began to experience demonic visitations. Demons literally would come into our room at night and torment me. Lights went on and off, and pictures spontaneously fell off the wall.
Then one early winter morning, something startling happened. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went into the living room. I turned the stereo on low and laid down next to the speaker. I tuned in to some preacher just in time to hear him say, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
He went on to say, “Fear is a spirit! Some of you are thinking that you are going insane, but you are just listening to the spirit of insanity! Not all your thoughts are your own. Evil spirits talk to you by giving you their thoughts.”
I had been taught that Christians could be mentally ill, but could not be demonized. What I didn’t realize is that I had been educated right out of my solution.
I turned off the radio and asked Jesus what I should do. Immediately I heard a Voice in my spirit say, “You have been listening to the spirit of insanity and the spirit of fear. Tell them to leave you right now!” As I lay on my back on the living room floor, I said, “You spirit of fear and you spirit of insanity, get off me right now in Jesus’ name!”
I couldn’t see anything, but I felt something get up off my body. My shaking completely stopped, peace filled my soul and my mind was clear again. What I experienced that night was not some kind of spiritual hype or psychosomatic occurrence. I was set free.
Almost three decades have passed since that fateful night that I made my prison break. Over the last 30 years, I have helped thousands of people get free, find solace and learn to live in peace. My prayer is that the Prince of Peace will meet you and lead you into complete wholeness; spirit, soul and body.
Kris Vallotton is the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. This article is adapted from his latest book, Spirit Wars (Chosen Books).