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The Power of the Mind

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Do you ever take time to think about what you’re thinking about? That may sound

confusing…but ponder it a moment. Are you aware of your own thoughts and reactions?

If not, I encourage you to reflect on those thoughts because they determine your

actions.


It is crucial that we take control of our thoughts. We can’t control our circumstances in

life, but we can control our thoughts about and reactions to those circumstances. Don’t

believe the lie that you have to stay in your anxious thoughts, your insecurity, or your

shame…By allowing us the ability to control our thought life, God has given us the key

to breaking our own chains.


So, why do we continue to wear them?


I am NOT saying to avoid professional help if you have a diagnosed mental illness or

are wondering if you do. We don’t have much control over an illness, but we do have

control over our thoughts from day-to-day and what we allow ourselves to dwell on.


As someone with diagnosed OCD, I can assure you that there are still thoughts I can

change. When referring to OCD, I often liken it to being a prisoner of your mind. With

OCD, you have obsessive thoughts that don’t go away without extreme intentional

effort. I have tried medicine, and it didn’t work for me (but that doesn’t mean it won’t for

you), but in therapy, their recommendations are exactly God’s recommendations in

Scripture. He knows exactly what we need and how to bring healing to our minds, and

the cognitive therapy I received was extremely similar to what the Bible teaches about

our minds. Interesting, isn’t it?


There’s nothing wrong with getting help; in fact, I encourage it. However, society today

loves to label themselves with things like depression, anxiety, and OCD to the point it’s

normalized, and mostly everyone assumes they have it. I am sure there is an increase

due to social media and other factors, but worrying occasionally, feeling really sad after

a breakup, and liking your socks to match aren’t always indicators of a mental illness.

Many often want to be labeled and receive an instant fix, which unfortunately only band-

aids the problem and doesn’t always have long-term results.


Let’s dive into some helpful verses in the Bible that offer us some direction in our

thought life:


“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corin. 10:5).


“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2).


“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the

renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His

good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).


“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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“ (Phil. 4:8).


“For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace”

(Rom. 8:6).


In addition to these verses focusing on our thoughts, what else do they all have in

common?


They all call for our action.


They are commands for us, not just requests of God.

The Bible is clearly expressing the fruit that comes from controlling our thoughts. 


In the past, I’d often pray, “God, change my thoughts on the situation.” But God urges

us to not be passive in our thought life; we are to be active participants in capturing our

thoughts and submitting them to Christ. 


But what exactly does that mean? How do we take our thoughts captive?


To put it simply, you are aware of your thoughts, and you analyze them. Are they

fruitful? Are they true? Are they godly? If yes, wonderful! If not, submit them to Christ by

praying about why the thoughts are there and replacing them. Condemning or

shaming ourselves for a thought is counterproductive. Take the negative, wrong thought

and replace it with the Truth of God’s Word. This does require our knowledge of the

Truth. If we believe the lie, we will remain in the pattern. That’s why we must be aware

of ourselves and know why we believe what we believe. To do this, study Scripture and

learn about who God is and what He says about you. Abide in Christ and have

conversations with Him often throughout your day. With time, you will start to recognize

the difference between thoughts that are true and thoughts that are lies. Ask God to

show you! He will.


There’s a study titled “The Power of Positive Thinking: Pathological Worry is Reduced

by Thought Replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder” that was published in 2016. In this study, volunteers with Generalized Anxiety Disorder were trained to replace their thoughts of worry with images of the possible positive outcomes either mentally or verbally. They report the following as the outcome of their study:


All groups benefited from training, with decreases in anxiety and worry, and no

significant differences between groups. The replacement of worry with different

forms of positive ideation, even when unrelated to the content of worry itself,

seems to have similar beneficial effects, suggesting that any form of positive

ideation can be used to effectively counter worry. (Eagleson, et al.)


This is only one study; there are several! It’s a tested and proven theory, and if you ever

decide to go to therapy, you will hear about this practice often…because it works! And

it’s found right in Scripture! God knows our brains because He made them. He knows how to heal them, but because we have free will, He doesn’t intervene in all our

thoughts, but He does offer clear guides for us to follow that are necessary and

beneficial for our healing and growth.


With this study in mind, think of how it directly correlates with the verses above. Taking

your thoughts captive? Thinking on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable,

excellent, or praiseworthy? Not conforming to the world but being transformed by the

renewing of your mind? What is He trying to teach us? He is saying to be mindful of

your thoughts, know the truth, and replace the lies!


I promise you will find healing in that. The reason we struggle with seeing success from

it is because we are inconsistent or don’t have the energy to recognize them and replace them. It is not easy, and it requires consistent intentionality and awareness! Take it one thought at a time. Don’t assume you have to change every negative thought in the next five minutes. Focus on one of the most damaging ones and practice replacing it. Journal it, speak it, correct it mentally—whatever works for you, but I promise you will see shifts in your thinking if you stay consistent and keep trying—I am walking evidence of that!


Similar to the previous study, other studies have been conducted about the impact of

prayer and worship on the brain. Michael Liedke D.N.P cites various sources and

studies in his article “Neurophysiological Benefits of Worship” that explain this truth.

While prayer and worship affect our brains in various ways, I want to highlight Liedke’s

explanation on their effect on the amygdala:


Worship’s effects on the amygdala have also been well studied and

demonstrate a wide range of effects as a result of the hypoactivation or down-

regulation to the fight or flight mechanism (Boelens, Reeves, Replogle, & Koenig,

2010). This hypoactivation extends to the hypothalamus and the initiation of the

fight or flight response. The result is a significant decrease in the deleterious

effects of chronic fight or flight activation and a decrease in heart rate, blood

pressure, blood glucose levels, and serum markers of inflammation (Anderson &

Nunnelley, 2016). (Liedke 2018)


This means that prayer and worship affect our bodies positively, and that's not all! This

hypoactivation also results in measurable decreases in depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and even post-traumatic stress, and it is all traced back to one daily action--worship. Due to these findings, many professionals incorporate prayer into treatment plans for illnesses such as anxiety/depressive disorders, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and disorders of chronic inflammation (Anderson & Nunnelley, 2016).


What a beautiful truth! Prayer and worship positively influence us in every

way—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. Isn’t it incredible how

God created things? He made our bodies and minds to long for worship and prayer and

to respond to them. By blessing God, He turns around and blesses us. By emptying

ourselves before Him, He makes us whole. This study correlates with the verses about

setting our minds on what’s above (God) and having a mindset of the Spirit. Powerful,

isn’t it?


This also provides further evidence that God’s Word is living, active, and true. It is

relevant. It is not outdated or no longer useful for this generation. His Word is

timeless and is always profitable “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for

training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God provided the truth, and science supports it.


Let’s practice replacing some common wrong thoughts we have (p.s. Satan is not unique…he uses the same tactics on all of us. Don’t let him convince you that no one could ever understand you.):


Wrong thought:

You should be so ashamed that you did that.

True replacement:

No condemnation now exists for me in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).


Wrong thought:

No one loves me.

True replacement:

God says He has loved me with everlasting love and has drawn me with unfailing

kindness (Jer. 31:3).


Wrong thought:

I am just a burden with my problems.

True replacement:

God wants me to cast all my anxieties and burdens on Him because He cares about me

(1 Peter 5:7).


Wrong thought:

God wouldn’t want me involved in His ministry. I’ve made too many mistakes.

True replacement:

Some of the most influential Christian people did some horrible things apart from Christ.

The Apostle Paul persecuted and killed Christians. Peter, His own disciple, denied Him

three times. Moses murdered someone. David committed adultery and plotted murder,

yet God called him a man after His own heart. We have ALL sinned and fallen short of

God’s glory (Rom. 3:23), but He has lavished me with grace upon grace (John 1:16)!


Wrong thought:

God couldn’t forgive me for this. I’m too far gone.

True replacement:

God has already forgiven me of it when He died on the cross. If I confess my sins, He is

faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1

John 1:9). He has cast my sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He

was pierced for my transgressions, and He was crushed for my iniquities. The

punishment that brought me peace was upon Him, and by His stripes I am healed (Is.

53:5)! He is patient with me and doesn’t wish for me to perish but rather to come to

repentance (2 Peter 3:9).


Wrong thought:

I can’t stop doing that. It’s just too hard. God understands I am just human and not

capable of stopping.

True replacement:

I am either a slave to God or to sin (Rom. 6). My love for God is often shown through

obedience and through my desire to obey (John 14:15), and His commands are a

privilege and not a burden (1 John 5:3). I am not capable in my own strength, but I have

God’s Spirit inside of me that is capable and fully equipped to help me overcome any

sin or struggle (Rom. 7:15-25). The Holy Spirit intercedes for me in my weaknesses

(Rom. 8:26-27). His grace is sufficient for me. When I am weak, then I am strong (2

Corin. 12:9).


I challenge you to take a consistent negative thought you have this week and practice

replacing it. With effort and consistency, you will see change.


Good news: you do not have to be a slave to your fears, circumstances, anxieties,

negativity, or insecurity. God has made a way for you! Your thought life will determine

your outlook on life and will either positively or negatively influence you and everyone

around you. Our thoughts influence every detail of our lives. Think wisely!


~Allyson B.


Additional citations to the Bible:


Eagleson, Claire, et al. “The Power of Positive Thinking: Pathological Worry is

Reduced by Thought Replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” National Library of

Medicine, 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.017,

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4760272/.


Liedke, Michael. “Neurophysiological Benefits of Worship,” The Journal of Biblical

Foundations of Faith and Learning, Vol. 3 Issue 1, 2018,

https://knowledge.e.southern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1063&context=jbffl.


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