Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.
The other day I had a huge argument with my husband. The bigger issue other than the argument itself was the fact that my husband had no idea about it. That’s because the disagreement all took place in my head. I just knew what he would say, and I knew what I would say back because I was rehearsing it in my mind until the Lord convicted me as He does when I allow my thoughts to run wild and I find myself in a mental state I ought not to be. I quickly repented and prayed for the Lord to redeem my thinking and He did as usual.
Instances like that serve as a reminder that our greatest battles are many times in our minds. Staying positive and thinking pure and lovely thoughts, as the Bible instructs to do in Philippians 4:8 is much harder than it seems. Our thoughts lead to our beliefs, which lead to our actions, which lead to the quality of our lives. Our thoughts have too great of an impact for us not to guard them and keep our mind on God's will. For this reason, the Apostle Paul instructed the Church at Corinth to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)
Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Corinth to address false teaching they received that was against the truth of God and would thus lead them further away from God. In his strongly worded letter, Paul instructs them to do two things:
1 Take captive every thought.
2. Make their thoughts obedient to Christ.
Their thoughts were influenced by the opponents of Paul. Your thoughts may be influenced by a number of things; the sermon you heard last week, the comment from your coworker this morning, a song you just heard, a video you saw, a dream you had, or you may not even know. The thought could have just popped into your head for no apparent reason at all.
Still, each thought should be held captive. Captive meaning to subjugate or bring under control. Either we can control our thoughts or our thoughts will control us. To take our thoughts captive means not allowing each and every thought of ours to quickly control our beliefs, actions, and emotions. Just because we think it, doesn’t mean we have to respond to it.
This will give us the necessary time and clarity of mind to determine if this is a thought we should be led by or not. Then we can place our thoughts into two categories. Those that align with God's truth and push us towards His will and those that don't align with His truth and push us further from Christ. We take our thoughts captive by ridding our mind of the thoughts not of God and believing those that are.
Think of your thoughts on a conveyor belt with some going to your actions, some going to your feelings, and others going to your beliefs. You are the factory worker that must examine each thought on the conveyor belt to determine if it should influence you are not. The factor to determine if a thought should stay or go is based on if it alights with God’s truth or not.
If it doesn’t, we then implement part 2 of Paul’s instruction which is to make our thoughts obedient to Christ. So we don’t just stop at throwing away the lie, we then replace it with God’s truth. Because if they don’t align with God’s truth, our thoughts will not lead to actions that are obedient to Christ.
If I constantly believe the lie that I’m all alone and unloved, I will seek love and company outside of Christ, maybe even willing to compromise my relationship with Him to get it.
If I choose to believe I don’t have a purpose in life, then I forfeit the beautiful plan God does have for my life bY rejecting the truth found in Jeremiah 29:11.
If I think that because of one bad experience I can’t trust anyone, then I block myself from ever experiencing genuine intimate relationships.
If I think that God’s love for me is based off how much money I make or what I do right then I have an incorrect view of the Gospel and do not fully comprehend all that God has done for me.
Capturing our negative thoughts and making them obedient to Christ is not easy and honestly, we can’t do it without the power of God. Good for us His power is available to us as we ask Him in prayer. So I want to give you my personal 3 step prayer process for capturing negative thoughts. Yes, I have a whole process for this because I have a lot of practice in this area. Don’t ask me why.
1.) The first step is to pray for discernment. This is simply asking God to quickly reveal when you’re having a thought that you need to let go of because many times we don’t even realize it. And if we don’t realize a thought is harmful, we’ll never reject it. So we desperately need God to make it clear to us which thoughts need to say and which need to go.
2.) Once you’ve discerned a thought is not of God, pray for God to help you reject that thought. Ask Him to give you the strength to no longer live as though that negative thought is true. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we want to believe a lie because it’s just easier to do so or maybe it’s something we’ve believed for a really long time, and it’s going to take a certain level of humility to let it go. A humility that only comes from God.
3.) The last prayer to capturing negative thoughts is to pray for God to replace the lies with His truth. This is why its’ so important that we are in God’s Word so we can know the truth to replace any lies. We can do this through studying God’s word and memorizing scripture.
Think of your mind as a garden and your thoughts as seeds. Thought seeds against God will grow into weeds that suck the nutrients out of the soil making it more difficult for good thoughts to grow. We want to throw those out before they even have a chance to take root. Then we want to pray for our good thoughts to become even more fruitful and ask God for constant reminders of His truth. Then God's truth will take root in our lives and bring forth a fruitful life that gives Him glory.
I challenge you this week to be more prayerful about your thought life. Then comment and let me know what steps do you take to capture every thought and make it obedient to Christ?
For even more Beloved encouragement visit me at www.belovedwome.org and sign up to download my free Video Bible Study + Prayer Guide called "Worry Free". In this study, you will learn the three lies feeding your worry and the truth that can finally set you free. Sign up here to start living the worry-free life now!