Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… -Psalm 55:1, 2
Many years ago I had a friend who was struggling with his Christian faith. He possessed the desire to live an honorable life before God, but he lacked the will to do so consistently. He told me on one occasion how that he struggled in the area of prayer. “When I try to pray,” he said, “my mind is filled with the most terrible thoughts – things I should not be thinking about.” Clearly his was a spiritual battle against the dark forces that come against us when we seek the Lord. When we become serious about getting our hearts and our minds in the right place, we will find ourselves in a spiritual battle. Human nature, which the Bible refers to as the flesh, goes against God, but the Holy Spirit empowers us to resist the flesh and follow the leading of God’s Spirit.
What about this issue of keeping our thoughts in their proper place? That can be a tremendous challenge. Jesus warned us to be careful about the thoughts we allow into our minds. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus said that for a man to look upon a woman lustfully is like committing adultery in the heart. A thought can become a word we later regret, and it can also lead to the very act. Either situation can cause lasting damage to a person’s life as well as his or her Christian testimony. The psalmist in Psalm 55 asked God to hear his prayer, for his thoughts were causing him terrible distress. It certainly sounds like he was fighting a similar battle as the one my friend was facing.
The best way to keep our thoughts in the right place is through the daily discipline of prayer and Bible reading. As we grow in prayer and the Word of God, the Lord will empower us to keep our minds centered on Christ, which in turn keeps our thoughts in a good and positive place. Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of the kind of thoughts that honor God and will assist us in keeping our minds where they need to be:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Consider the above list, and anytime you find yourself contemplating something that doesn’t meet that criteria, then quickly move away from it. Ask God to replace the bad thought with something positive.
God is faithful and will empower us to have our minds in the right place. From there we are empowered to speak and conduct ourselves in a manner that brings joy to our hearts, produces a better attitude, brings spiritual victory, and lets the light of Christ shine forth.
Tomorrow’s Blog: The power of the smile and how it enhances our mood. Don’t miss it!