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 pastor, my faithful exercise partner, and several other people to move me along in this process. His Holy Spirit worked within me to train me and teach me how to wear and use His armor, an integral part that is discussed in Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1.
There are five strategies that taught me to take my thoughts captive. These five strategies make up the continual training plan I use to never again be in a place where my thoughts hold me captive for the long term.
Strategies for Taking Thoughts Captive
- 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 and about what I read and watched.
- 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 found in the Bible.
- 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.
- 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.
- Maintain. An online friend once 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. Here’s the most important step: You have to listen for God to speak. This is the heart of the maintenance program.
I now cycle through all these steps, not necessarily in any particular order, routinely. With complete certainty, I can say that this process saved my marriage and my sanity. As I continually cycle through it, I use a variety of methods to create a more full and complete captivity of my thoughts.
- Prayer. We are never disconnected from God.
- Journaling. Helps with focus since you can’t write and think of something else at the same time. Getting thoughts out of my head and onto paper captures them and keeps them from taking over my mind.
- Idea book. I have a notebook where I record most of my ideas for future reflection. This helps me to not get so overwhelmed by the many areas I want to delve into in more detail.
- Accountability. Having an accountability partner to talk to and to help apply God’s truth takes thoughts captive by limiting emotion, which can taint our ability to think clearly.
- Fellowship. Know the difference between fellowship and socializing. We need fellowship to grow emotionally and spiritually. Socializing helps us relax and reduce stress.
By no means do I think I have sufficiently or completely covered this topic. What I can testify to is that I continue to struggle to understand and apply God’s truth to this very sensitive and vulnerable place in my life. I also know that if I’m struggling, that means I haven’t yet given up.