We learned in the last two posts that our thoughts control our destiny, and we can control our thoughts. Please read my previous two posts if you haven’t already. In this post, I want to share more specifically how to control your thoughts. In the post called ALL THOUGHTS ARE WITHIN OUR CONTROL, I explained how I tend to let my thinking go to extremes of anger, and then to worry. I use the truths in the Bible for my inspiration because it is the authority for how we should think. How we think dictates how well we love.
To break my negative thought cycles, I would consciously choose to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks for this is God’s will” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). To rejoice always is to choose to focus your thoughts continually on things that make you glad, happy, or delighted. Rejoice in Jesus and how you are forgiven and free from the control of sin, etc. Rejoice in the fact that God is faithful, and nothing is impossible with Him.
Next, pray without ceasing by turning every thought into a prayer. If you think of someone, pray for them. If you are upset about something, ask God to help you forgive or whatever you need God to do. If you are tempted to give in to your fleshly desires, pray for help to resist. By praying we are practicing the presence of God in our lives as Brother Lawrence teaches.
In everything give thanks, which does not leave anything out. Have an attitude of gratitude. Imagine, if you rejoice, pray, and be thankful all the time, you would never be depressed, miserable, angry, etc. When I focus my thoughts on these three things, I feel peaceful, so I don’t act miserably and make others miserable. Breaking negative thought cycles takes work and discipline, but it is well worth it.
The Apostle Paul also taught the Philippians how to safeguard their minds. In Philippians 4:4-8 he lays out four ways to create a healthy thought life.
- Have an attitude of praise and gratitude. “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NIV) – To rejoice in the Lord always is to worship the Lord and all He is with thanksgiving. Philippians 3:1 also states, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. …it is a safeguard for you.” A safeguard is a protective stipulation. Rejoicing protects our minds from destructive thoughts of anger, malice, envy, worry, fear, etc. Things to rejoice and be glad for, and be thankful for, can be found in Who God is — Daily A-C-T-S Prayers, I encourage you to add this page to your favorite list and visit this page daily.
- Let prayer occupy your thoughts all the time, especially during times of emotional stress. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6 NIV). Also, Ephesians 6:18 states, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions (all the time) with all kinds of prayers and requests.” So, how do we pray in the Spirit all the time? It is our spirit with the Holy Spirit in us that prays through our minds to God. Read Four Realities of the Spirit World to learn about the interactions of the spirit world. You can also pray in the spirit through a spiritual language you receive when you pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fill you (see Acts 19:6 and 1 Corinthians 14:2&14). Prayer with thanksgiving is a way to productively channel your emotional energy. If you tend to worry or be angry, then read the following posts to learn how to be free to choose different thoughts and break the cycle: Anger Issues Protected by Pride and Judgmental Strongholds and ANXIETY: Protected by Worry and Fear Strongholds
- Choose where you let your thoughts dwell. You have control of your thoughts, so use that control to your benefit and the benefit of others. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble (honorable), whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8 NIV emphasis added) – Be proactive about your thought life! Choose to think true and positive thoughts described in this verse. Write down an example for each type of thought that would pertain to your life. For example:
- True thoughts are based on what you read in the Bible, so focus on scriptural truths about yourself, others, God, and the world around you. My short book on this website has over 100 true thoughts to think on.
- Noble or honorable thoughts could be thoughts about what you can do to help others or to show kindness to a crabby person, or show love to someone who is difficult to love, etc.
- Right thoughts could be thoughts about what is good and what you like about a person or something. For example, I must walk a ½ mile to my office building from where I park. When the weather is crappy, it is hard to have right thoughts. Right thoughts are to think of the good exercise I am getting that I wouldn’t get otherwise, the fresh air I am breathing to detoxify my lungs and body, more time to pray, etc.
- Pure thoughts could be thinking good about people and not judgmental thoughts. Choose to think pure thoughts about the opposite sex, instead of obscene thoughts. Choose to view movies and TV shows or read material that generate pure thoughts. In Psalms 101:3a, King David said, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;” Make this verse your priority to protect your mind from wicked and evil words and images, so your thoughts remain pure.
- Lovely thoughts could be thinking about someone you love or thinking about how much God loves you that He would send His son to die and atone for our sin. And how His son, Jesus, would willingly do this for ungrateful people who reject Him.
- Admirable thoughts could be thoughts that marvel at God’s creation, goodness, and mercy. Or, think about things that are done excellently, like a beautiful garden or some other good works.
- Your thoughts determine the beliefs and attitudes of your heart. When you practice thinking the thoughts listed above your mind is at peace, and you will be at peace with others and life. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7 NIV) – This verse is conditional and is based on following the previous principles of thinking. So, when you rejoice, pray, be thankful, and think good thoughts, you are inviting God into your thought life and valuing yourself and others.
Thoughts come from all directions. Thoughts come from our experiences and the words we read and hear. I wrote two posts about the power of our words and how they influence us.