How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2

While in the throes of depression for many years, the idea of taking thoughts captive simply seemed impossible. In fact, the idea to do so never really entered my mind. After I felt a release from depression somewhere in my 28th year of existence, the ability to take thoughts captive began to grow within me.

God used my husband, a godly counselor, my awesome pastor, my faithful exercise partner and several people in my church family to move me along in this process. Even more, though, His Holy Spirit worked within me to train me and teach me how to wear and use His armor. (See How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1 of 2 for more on the role of the armor of God in this process.)

There are five strategies that taught me to take my thoughts captive. These five strategies make up the continual training plan I use regularly to never again be in a place where my thoughts hold me captive.

  1. Retrain thoughts. My negative, self-defeating thoughts needed saturated with scripture. Reading A LOT of positive books also helped reprogram my thought processes. Also, I had to be very careful with whom I spent time in fellowship.
  2. Learn truth. Because my thoughts were so messed up, I had to find out what God was saying about what I was thinking. Since the best way to know falsehood is to study the truth, I continually sought to bring my thoughts up against God’s truth.
  3. Become teachable. I am ashamed to say that I was not very teachable as a teenager and for most of my twenties. I had to learn to become teachable and willing to change.
  4. Admit fault. I had to recognize and admit that my thoughts were leading me astray. For a time, I couldn’t trust them much at all and had to rely on others who were thinking clearly and based on God’s truth. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at repenting when my thoughts wander from truth.
  5. Maintain. Recently, an online friend advised me to say this simple prayer, “Lord, You know my weaknesses. Speak to me.” This prayer works well for me in a lot of ways, not the least of which is to help take my thoughts captive. But here’s the important step: You have to listen for God to speak. This is the heart of the maintenance program. Then, I cycle through the other steps (not necessarily in any particular order) routinely.

With complete certainty, I can say that this training process saved my marriage and my sanity. And as I continually cycle through it, I use a variety of methods to help create a more full and complete captivity of my thoughts. The methods I use the most are:

  1. Prayer. We are never disconnected from God.
  2. Journaling. Helps tremendously with focus. Barb Raveling’s post on Truth Journaling is a terrific resource.
  3. Idea book. I have a notebook where I record all my ideas. Just getting them out of my head and onto paper seems to put them in captivity and to keep them from taking over my mind.
  4. Accountability. Having an accountability partner to talk to and to help apply God’s truth takes thoughts captive by removing emotion, which can taint our ability to think clearly.
  5. Fellowship. Know the difference between fellowship and socializing. We need fellowship to grow emotionally and spiritually. (Note: Watch for a future post on fellowship.)

Please know that by no means do I think this topic has been sufficiently or completely covered. What I can testify to is that the two posts on this topic do accurately reflect my struggle to understand and apply God’s truth in a very sensitive and vulnerable place in my life.

DISCUSSION: What advice do you have for “taking every thought captive”?

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7 Replies to “How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2”

  1. Kari,
    Great thoughts as usual! I would say we also need to realize we are all susceptible to depression or the effects of undisciplined thoughts. Recognizing this allows us to put up a guard otherwise we see no need to. I think it helps to write down on a daily basics the things we have to do and want to do. We can become overwhelmed by how much we have to do. To put it down; organize it and plan it takes it off that race track in your mind where wreck after wreck can happen. I totally agree we need to read good stuff; the Bible and other good works. Pray to and sometimes it helps to write our prayers out. We can come back and see how God has acted on them later. I find that reaching out to help someone else helps our thought life as it takes us from being the focus and puts it on someone else.

    1. Thanks, Mark. Undisciplined thoughts affect everyone for certain, but they do manifest themselves in different ways. My propensity is toward depression; my husband tends to work more to distract himself. My oldest gets goofy, and my youngest forgets about self-control. Being overwhelmed, unorganized and disconnected can all add to the problem. I write my morning prayers out most of the time, so I definitely agree with this being very helpful. Keeps my focused and helps me capture thoughts. Forcing yourself to write them down or say them verbally to another person definitely captures them and makes them manageable and even more understandable.

  2. Kari, as always a great post with great wisdom. I have not done a lot of journaling lately, but I sure used it when things were hard and I was struggling to find me way. It is easy when things are going along better to get away from the good habits, the basics, when it is then we should be building strength for the next battle, for Satan knows just when we are the weakest and will attack.
    My thoughts wander way too much and I am glad for your wise counsel about taking them under control of God's truth. I will lock this one to look back at later! MM

    1. Missed my journal praying this morning, and I REALLY missed having done it by later in the day. Just really sets my thoughts in order and helps me have a good day. You're right… getting away form good habits is so easy when things are going good. Yet, that's when we need to discipline to stick with them knowing that we will need those habits WHEN the tough times hit. Satan sure attacked me this morning as soon as I stepped outside of my normal routine. Lesson learned, I hope. Glad this was helpful. Sure was/is a painful lesson for me to be able to talk about.

  3. You mentioned that you had to be careful who you fellowshipped with when you were retraining your thoughts. For some reason, that just stuck out to me as so wise. We often forget the impact that other people have on us – and in an attempt to be kind, we hang around people that bring us down. I don't think we ever get "too good" for people, but moreso that you wouldn't recommend a recovering alcoholic to hang around partiers. It's kinda an acknowledgement that during the process of retraining you're in a weakened state and shouldn't feel shame or guilt when treating your social connections appropriately.

    1. I just know that when I am weakened spiritually, I need to hang out with spiritually strong people. I then need to focus on getting strong spiritually, so I can be a spiritually strong person when someone else is weakened. We have to be so aware of ourselves in a way that allows us to always protect our witness. So important.

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