Gentle Training for Your Thought Life

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“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2, NKJV).

This verse brings our attention to one of the amazing facets of human existence: the ability to direct our minds. God created us with this capacity, and He invites us to use it in a marvelous way. With His help, we are able to focus our attention spans on the realm that lasts forever.

However, concentrating on “those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (v. 1) often does not come easily. Instead, we find ourselves quickly distracted by the things down here on earth: what we are going to have for lunch, what to-do items we failed to accomplish yesterday, that one comment someone made on Facebook… it goes on and on. Our minds seem to have a mind of their own.

Holy Spirit wants to encourage us today. Learning to set our minds on heavenly realities – like everything else in our spiritual growth – is a process. It takes a long, long time. So, settle in for the long haul and, especially, be patient and kind with yourself on the journey.

A helpful way to approach this is to regard our thoughts as children. Kids, by nature, are all over the place. They need to be taught and trained to sit still and listen. We work with them over many years to guide them in their development towards this kind of maturity. We do not treat them harshly for what they cannot yet accomplish. In the same way, be gentle with yourself as you gradually train your thoughts to be orderly and focused.

With fondness, I’m remembering moments in our church services when a toddler would wander up to the front of the church during the preaching. No one yelled at the adorable tyke. Instead, his parent would collect him as quickly as possible with a little smile. We all watched affectionately. Instead of being angry, we were enjoying the youngster’s innocence and curious spirit. As this child grew, he learned not to interrupt moments like that.

When you are trying to pray and you get distracted, remember this. See your distracted thoughts like that little guy. Realize that Daddy God is not yelling at you. He’s not angry. Instead, He’s watching you with affection and joy. Simply collect your stray thought as quickly as possible. Return your focus to the things above. Don’t worry if you have to do this over and over again. As you work with your thought life patiently and persistently, your thoughts will slowly mature in their ability to focus for longer periods of time.

Here are some valuable descriptive phrases that show us what to do with our thoughts as we work towards training them:

I remember the days of old;

I meditate on all Your works;

I muse on the work of Your hands.”

(Ps. 143:5, NKJV)

Use these, my friend, and practice, practice, practice! Set aside time to fix your thoughts on heavenly realities. You will reap a harvest in your ability to focus, if you do not give up.

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Do you have any tips to share, that have helped you in developing your attention span for prayer and Bible study?

32 thoughts on “Gentle Training for Your Thought Life

  1. GREAT post. We are all still learning no matter our age. These days i look out the window towards the sky as a morning habit Good Morning Lord. Sounds silly and simple but it does draw me to return as the .stuff’ of a day begins to distract. Blessings!

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  2. My phone is a huge distraction to me, so if I can leave it in another room while I read and pray, or in my pocket while I walk and listen, it makes a BIG difference in how focused I am. Journaling is a big help, as well. Wishing I had more victories in this area to report. Still like a toddler! He is so patient to bear with this 54-year-old child!

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  3. Jennifer, one key is the way Holy Spirit gets our attention – in gentleness! We often deal with ourselves very harshly and this is not of God. For the last few years, Spirit has led me in the following manner. I first pray and ask for that peace that surpasses all understanding. I enter into a “place” and intentionally rest in the presence of God. I view that around me that may cause distraction and remove it or move to another place. This time in the Spirit is HOLY and we must be separated from that which naturally draws us back to our circumstances. After much practice, this can happen in just a few moments, we need NOT exert ourselves. Quietness can be a key ingredient, just as when Jesus rose early to be with the Father. The above description may not appear to be the simple ways of a child but just as Jesus grew in stature, we must also grow in our relationship with the Father. Len

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  4. Yeah.. I agree..when I we get started praying most of the time we get do get distracted..and I like how you compare distractions to a little boy..I don’t need to imagine that while I got one..😇

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  5. Awesome post and very true and practical in experience. I particularly love the analogy you made.

    See your distracted thoughts like that little guy. Realize that Daddy God is not yelling at you. He’s not angry.

    God bless you Jennifer, loved it💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

    Liked by 1 person

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