Reel ’em back in, the Bible says. Take control of your thinking. Do it on purpose. Be intentional in taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. Not so easy for those of us whose minds are prone to wander! I don’t know about you but I used to pray to get rid of wrong thoughts and hum a tune keep my mind off of them. Then I learned the secret. It’s easy as A B C, simple as Doe Ray Me, like counting up to 3. I call it Replacement Thinking.
We can cast out thoughts till we’re blue in the face, but there’s still another aspect to this process. We have to replace those wrong thoughts with something else…something good. It’s just like exercise. I replace sleeping in with walking and weight training. I don’t really want to jump out of bed to go to the gym but the end results keep me motivated. So I make a conscious decision (most of the time) to follow through. It’s all about doing things on purpose.
Thoughts will come into our minds but we have to be intentional about what we allow to stay there. It is our responsibility to lasso those thoughts, tie them up, and move forward. How many times do we meditate on problems or worries rather than the truth of God’s Word. How many times do we replay some unkind comment made to us during the day. We give the enemy a foothold when we get our mind off the goodness of God and onto the disturbance. When we replay the hurtful words of someone over and over again, we open ourselves up to depression and misery.
Many years ago a lady accused me of avoiding her. I had walked into a meeting late and found the nearest seat, never realizing she was motioning for me to sit by her. It didn’t take her long to call me on the phone with all kinds of hurtful accusations about my behavior. She really ruined my day. I assured her that it had not been my intention to ignore her and apologized profusely. Her words haunted me all day and I continually pressed the replay button in my mind. I rehearsed what she said over and over again…and then even more what I should have said. I tortured myself by meditating on the junk that was thrown at me. Was it truth? No! But her words became my focus that day. The enemy had a hayday reminding me, and I failed to take my thoughts captive. Instead, I entertained them. I invited them in for tea and they were miserable company!
It was a learning experience for me, but some time later I heard a teaching that confirmed what I should have done. Our thoughts are like guests in our home. When an uninvited one comes knocking, we need to kick it out. Don’t entertain damaging thoughts. Don’t invite them in for tea. This takes discipline. I simply cannot allow vain imaginations (my fears or my should’ves) to become bigger than the knowledge of God. We are in danger of idolatry when we lift our eyes to something other than God Himself.
The Bible tells in Philippians 4:8 to think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and of good report. So when I take my thoughts captive, I push toward the good things. I replace a bad thought with a good one. There’s an exercise I like to do to help me with that. Starting with A and proceeding through the alphabet, I find a name, attribute or characteristic of God. You can use either a name from the Bible or a more common word that describes who God is to you. It’s great to recite while driving down the street, when awakened in the night; or even in prayer. Here’s an example of how I exercise my meditation skills.
Lord, you are the Advocate who fights for me.
You are the Bread of Life who feeds my soul.
You are my Counselor who establishes the way I should take.
You are my Deliverer from the evil around me.
God, you are Everlasting and Eternal without beginning or end.
You are my Father who loves and cares for me.
and the Giver of every perfect gift.
You are Healer of my brokenness, and the great I AM
who is everything and anything I will ever need.
Lord, you are the righteous Judge and King of my life.
You are Lord of my circumstances.
You are my Master, the one I choose to serve .
Your Name is above all names for you are the One and Only God.
As the Prince of Peace, you are the Quieter of my anxious heart.
You are the Restorer of things lost, and the Source of all my needs.
You are the Truth that sets me free,
and the one who Undergirds me with your everlasting arms.
You are the Victor who always wins,
and the Warrior who fights my battles.
You X-ray my life and nothing is hidden from you.
You are the one whose Yoke is easy and burden is light.
Your Zeal shall perform your perfect will in me.
The Bible calls Jesus the Alpha and Omega; that means He’s everything from A to Z. Who is Jesus to you personally? Which of His many names meets your current need? What is it about His character that warms your heart? Remember what He’s done for you in the past. Rehearse His kindness. Recite His truths. I promise it will make a difference in your thought life. Make up your own alphabetical list…I dare you! You might be surprised how battles get won when you simply use the alphabet to fight. Replacement thinking is an intentional exercise…but it’s easy as A,B,C.