Many people understand the need for practice in athletics and music. They even understand the need for higher education. But not many people understand the need to train your mind. Just as athletes wouldn’t know the team’s playbook without practice, your mind won’t know how to think good thoughts unless you train it to do so.
How do you do that? The apostle Paul gives us direction in 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…. (KJV)
I have heard many say, “The best way to take care of wrong thinking is to divert your thought.” There’s a difference, however, between diverting your thought and capturing your thoughts.
For me, the process I used to go through was this: if I had a bad pattern of thought, I’d divert my thinking by starting to think about doing aerobatics in my little airplane. I’d get so lost in those that I wasn’t thinking the negative thought patterns anymore. As soon as I stopped thinking about the loops, Cuban Eights, and clover leafs, however, my mind would revert back to what I was originally thinking about.
Capturing thoughts is different, and I’ve found it to be much more helpful. You capture your thoughts in the same way you capture an enemy: you have to go on offense. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians that our one offensive weapon is the Word of God. When we put it in our mouths and speak it, it becomes a sword and will pin the enemy to the wall.
If you want to capture your thoughts and bring them to the obedience of Christ, speak the Word of God. Then you can begin to think about things as God wants you to.
Put It Into Practice
When your brain is clouded and overwhelmed from too many negative thoughts rolling around in your head, capture them by speaking out God’s truth about the situation. Bad thoughts, negative thoughts, fearful thoughts—we all deal with them at some point, but none of them have to stay and harass you. If you want to quit thinking about it, capture those thoughts with your words.
Watch what happens when you hear yourself say, “By the stripes of Jesus, I was healed. I was healed; therefore, I am healed. He sent His Word and healed me. Infirmities, sickness, and disease cannot stay in my body. I curse it. I command it to depart.”
When you hear these faith-filled words coming out of your mouth, your thoughts will begin to drift in that direction. The more you speak God’s promises, the more your thoughts will have to go in the direction of your words. You’ll worry less about the doctor’s report because you’re no longer letting that thought roll around in your head. You’re thinking new thoughts based on God’s Word.
Make It a Pattern
Now, this is a labor-intensive process until you establish a pattern. Once you establish a pattern, your God-given nature to be habitual will kick in and it will become easier to worry less and speak faith more.
How long before a pattern is established? Research shows it takes around 21 days before you break an old pattern of behavior and begin to establish a new one. So I challenge you to take three weeks to consistently capture your thoughts in an area of thinking that is not aligned with the Word. After that time passes, I believe you’ll see the action of capturing your thoughts become less driven by labor and more driven by reflex.
When you make it a pattern of life to capture negative thoughts, you won’t need to wear out your willpower in order to change. It will become part of what you do.
So be consistent in capturing your thoughts and turning them over to Christ. The more consistent you are, the easier it will become to keep your mind aligned with God’s Word.