What comes to most of our thoughts concerning exercising is what we are all familiar with – the exercising of our physical body. Yes, that is important and something I am working on right now. I need more physical exercise. But there is an exercise that is even more valuable than the physical exercise that we generally think of first. The exercise of our spirit!
So what does exercising our spirit consist of? It consists of many aspects of how we live our lives. Just like when we exercise our physical bodies, we do cardio exercises, we work on toning and possibly muscle building. Even when looking at those aspects of physical exercise, those areas can be broken down even further; our arms, legs, back and the different parts of our body. Spiritual exercises are much the same. They consist of many aspects. The one I want to focus on today is the specific exercise of our thought life.
Our minds are very complex and there are thoughts trying to invade our mind continuously. We can let our thoughts run rampant without control or we can chose to exercise control over our thoughts and bring them into submission to the ways that God says we need to think. Early on in my Christian life, I did not understand this concept and let thoughts of all kinds invade my mind on a regular basis. This led to disaster! God says a lot about our thought life in the Bible. He says we are to bring every thought captive – hmmm, let’s think about this. The idea of bringing every thought captive definitely lets us know that we should have control over what we chose to think on. Many thoughts may enter our mind, but we chose what we are going to accept and dwell on. God is very specific in His instructions to us in this area. He even tells us what we should think on. The scripture in Philippians 4:8 tells us very specifically what should be our filter as to what we allow ourselves to think on. It says “Finally, brothers, 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.” Yes, I said “allow”. We do have control of what we chose to think on! When thoughts come to our minds that do not fit in this filter, we need to exercise our control over our thought life and bring our thoughts captive to the ones that are going to bring life to our entire beings. What we allow into our minds (our thought life) will affect all other aspects of our lives such as how we feel and what actions we take.
This sounds like a simple step – I think we all know that it is not. Our thought life tries to run rampant with thoughts of every kind. We cannot allow it to do that. God has given us control and we need to exercise that control. It does get easier as we build our muscles in this area.
The exercise of taking control of what we think is necessary for all of us. Whether we are on our journey from addiction to freedom, whether we are combatting fear in our life, whether we are trying to stop worry and trust the Lord, whether God has shown us an area in our life we are to be improving on – we are on a journey to gain even more freedom in our lives. This area of exercising our authority over our thought life is a powerful key that is absolutely necessary for all of us.
Do not be discouraged if you start this exercise and it comes slowly to you. Our God is patient and He will help you. I encourage you, if you are willing to go further in exercising your thought life, to ask the Lord for His help. One of the many things I love about our Heavenly Father is that He wants to participate with us and help us on our journey through life. One way we get His help and involvement is by simply asking Him for help in your own words. We don’t have to be formal or fancy in our words to Him. We simply need to be honest and sincere with Him.
Here is my prayer – you can either pray this prayer or find your own words, but let us ask Him for help as we learn to exercise the muscles that controls our thought life.
“Father, I recognize that I need to exercise my spiritual muscles in developing the kind of thought life that is pleasing to You, and will help me in my daily life. I ask for Your help as I put this into practice in my life. I ask You to bring reminders to me as to what Your filter is, when I need to change the course of my thinking and for the strength to change the course of my thoughts when necessary. I ask today for Your strength to help me build these spiritual muscles in my life. Teach me how to do this moment by moment. I thank you Father for helping me. I thank you for loving me enough to care about what I think on. In Jesus’ precious and powerful name, amen.”