I’ve started most days this year sitting for ten minutes in silence, as part of my new desire to better experience God. If you missed the background for this, please check out this post on “A Word for the Year.”
It has surprised me how difficult it is, not so much being silent, but stopping my thought life. Try it for yourself after you’ve read this post, and see how random thoughts come at you constantly. For those of you experienced in meditation, I expect it’s not as difficult. But I don’t want to clear my mind. Well, only of my thoughts. I want to fill it with God’s thoughts.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps 46:10 NLT)
The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means “Let go of your grip.” Let go of all that preoccupies your mind so you can open yourself up to a whole new kind of knowing.1 A knowing that can only come from God.
The enemy doesn’t want us to be still, just as the enemy hates it when we pray. They love to distract us from our prayer life because they know prayer engages a response from heaven.
When my mind goes off as I sit in silence, I just pray “Come, Jesus come” or something similar. I may have to do this a number of times just to still my mind.
Maintaining a positive thought life has been a constant challenge for me. I’m convinced it’s the key area where the spiritual battle is played out. Many of you will be familiar with the CS Lewis classic, “The Screwtape Letters” where a senior demon, Screwtape, instructs a junior demon, Wormwood, on how to be successful in winning over his human victim. Be subtle, influence thoughts, tempt him to think about, distraction from the positive, fuel the imagination about what might happen, etc, Screwtape’s letters exhort.
Last year I become aware of a lie that I’d allowed myself to believe for the last eight years. I don’t recall exactly how I convinced myself so many years ago to believe what I did. However, I do know that I had continued to perpetuate this falsity to such an extent that I seriously doubted my future opportunities in ministry.
I unexpectedly met someone whilst in USA last year that unbeknownst to her at the time actually enabled me to see the lie for what it was. On returning home, it was reconfirmed through some reading and additional confirmation. The release I experienced when I repented of believing this lie and allowing it to take such a hold on my future hopes was incredible. I literally felt a weight come of my shoulders.
What this situation reconfirmed for me is the importance of vigilance in prayer and learning Scripture. Yes, learning it, not just reading it. Further, developing connections with people that are sufficiently close that you share your thought life. Now this may be friends, spouses or even professionals such as mentors, coaches and counsellors. As with any battle, an isolated target is an easier target, so stay connected.
What active steps do you take to keep steadfast in your thought life?
Notes: 1. Invitation to Solitude and Slience, Ruth Haley Barton, IVP Books, p74 (abbreviated)