I'm doing the Siesta Summer Bible Study (http://livingproofministries.blogspot.com/)with four friends this year. Jennifer Rothschild does an excellent job talking about the things we say to ourselves in our minds. She calls our minds our "thought closets" in her study, Me, Myself, & Lies. I've completed the first week of homework and can't wait to learn more.
I think everyone who has ever had panic disorder or depression knows that the victory over anxiety and despair is won or lost in the mind because it is our minds that torment us. Almost every book I've read on panic and depression agrees with what the Bible tells us: our thoughts determine the way we feel and act. (Proverbs 23:7 "for as he thinks within himself, so he is." (HCSB)
If we can change our thought patterns, we can change our lives. The problem is we need help countering the lies and the negative thoughts we habitual feed on when our minds are idle, and only God and His Word is powerful enough to do that for us. Where else will you find grace and Truth, forgiveness and redemption, healing and restoration? If Christ has the power over sin and death, then He certainly has the power to renew our minds.
Here's where we come in: (a) we have to let Him and (b) we have to stand firm on God's Word.
(a) We have to let Him--My recovery began when I decided to obey God's Word and love Him with all of my mind (Luke 10:27). We love God with all of our minds when we worship and praise Him and read and meditate on His Word EVERY DAY. Daily reading and meditating on God's Word is NOT an option. It is life and breath to us. It's the only way we will have our minds renewed permanently. (Romans 12:2) Also, when our minds are consecrated to God, we're enabling Him to come and do amazing things among us. (Joshua 3:5) God's Word will suddenly become alive to us and inside us, and our thoughts will begin to change. God will speak to your mind and your soul through passages of Scripture. Your healing process will begin.
(b) We have to stand firm on God's Word--We can't let our negative thought patterns steal Truth from us. We have to do our part in pulling down the strongholds in our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tell us plainly--"We do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." If you don't know much of God's Word, this is your incentive to dive in and commit some Scripture to memory or, at the very least, meditation.
When you and I memorize or meditate on certain Scriptures--like the ones I've posted on this blog--then we will have our spiritual armor in place, and we will be able to pull down those negative and fearful thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. Our hearts will not be troubled and we will be able to believe God instead of what our thoughts tell us. (John 14:1) When this begins to happen, you will experience real peace and deep-seated joy.
The most powerful thing we can do is write down what we're telling ourselves and then see how those thoughts line up with what God's Word tells us. If they don't line up, then we take them captive by countering them with God's Word. This was one of the assignments in Me, Myself, and Lies, and I also did this in 2006 in the Breaking Free Bible study by Beth Moore. Most recently, one of the thoughts that have been recurring in my mind is that I won't be able to travel without anxiety. I have trouble reading maps, and I have to do all the driving for my husband and myself because of his eye disability. We're driving to visit my son in 2 weeks so I wrote down 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."(NKJV) I know that if I pray this verse as a petition to God, He'll hear me and help bring this verse to fruition in me. I can also call on God for His guidance, presence, and protection while on the road. (Psalm 91:1--"The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty." (HCSB)
I pray Scriptures instead of just reciting them because God has said that I'm not to be anxious but to pray about everything so His peace will guard my heart and my mind (Phil. 4:6-7) I believe having a quiet time with God every morning, worshipping and praising Him with my mind during idle moments, meditating on Scripture and praying to God in my heart whenever I feel anxious is what has kept my panic and depression from returning. I can tell I've made progress in the renewing of my mind because my daily thoughts are "for me" and not against me most of the time. This is amazing considering my background of anxiety and despair. I know the longer I cling to Jesus and His Word, the healthier my mind, soul, and body will become. I pray that everyone finds this true for themselves. Romans 8:6: "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." (NIV)