"Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way." Proverbs 23:19 (ESV)
For years, I walked around with a destructive and negative mindset without recognizing it. Raised in a tumultuous home that simmered with anger, resentment, and critical words, I picked up these deadly thought processes early on. Sadly, it's how my family operated, and I considered it completely normal. Critical thoughts spread like weeds throughout my mind and threatened to choke out every positive thought.
Years later, enduring a miserable marriage, I regularly cried myself to sleep. I was still unaware that negative mindsets poisoned my thoughts. Thinking the best of others was foreign to me. Each morning I'd wake up and rehash my husband's harsh words of the night before. I'd tell myself that things were never going to change, and meditate on my critical thoughts and feelings. I was extremely unhappy.
My unhealthy mindset made it hard to forgive, because I replayed hurtful words and situations in my mind over and over. It's very difficult, (if not impossible!) to forgive what you regularly focus on. This set up a destructive cycle in my marriage. Instead of forgiving and letting go, I rehearsed the hurt and held on. And I always felt it was warranted because I felt my husband's words and actions toward me were wrong.
It wasn't until a women's retreat that I suddenly became aware of my dangerous mindset. During a time of reflective prayer, God helped me to see that my consistently critical thoughts toward my husband were destroying our relationship. I began to understand that even though my husband's actions toward me might be wrong, my response as a Christian was just as wrong.
Over time my mindset slowly changed, but it remained a real effort not to give in to the negative thoughts I had regularly entertained most of my life. It took time and concerted effort, but as I prayed and spent time reading my Bible, wrong mindsets were replaced with healthy, godly thoughts.
You may not battle with a negative or critical attitude like I did. Maybe worry, fear, or insecurity bombard your mind regularly. That's the enemy's plan: to consistently assault our minds until we surrender.
We must fight every step of the way. As busy women, we don't have one brain cell to spare. And as godly women, we cannot yield any mind-turf to the enemy. The first goal when praying for our minds is the ability to recognize when we're under attack. God's Word tells us, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV)
The number one way to resist the enemy is through prayer. Though the attacks against our mind can be subtle, God gives us wisdom when we ask Him. He will reveal to us what we are not always capable of discerning apart from His help: flawed, potentially destructive thoughts and mindsets. Whether the intrusions in our minds are remnants from the distant past or yesterday's hurts and disappointments, we can face every day with clear minds and godly mindsets.
Dear Lord, equip my mind with Your helmet of salvation. Protect my mind from every evil influence. I submit my thoughts to You and thank You for granting me ever-increasing discernment, wisdom, and an understanding mind. Thank You that I have the mind of Christ, and I hold the thoughts, feelings and purposes of His heart. Renew my mind and grant me a fresh mental and spiritual attitude and a godly mindset. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources: This lesson is adapted from Julie Gillies' new book Prayers for a Woman's Soul, an invitation for busy, overwhelmed women with long prayer lists to pray for themselves.
Reflect and Respond: Do you recognize the enemy's assault on your mind this week?
What specific thoughts and mindsets do you need help changing?
Apply the truths you've learned today and determine to spend this week praying for your mind.
Power Verses: 1 Corinthians 14:20, "Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults." (NIV)
Romans 12:2, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (NLT)
© 2013 by Julie Gillies. All rights reserved.
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