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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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:
- Prayer. We are never disconnected from God.
- Journaling. Helps tremendously with focus. Barb Raveling’s post on Truth Journaling is a terrific resource.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”?