Prayer To Take Every Anxious Thought Captive
How to Take Every Thought Captive (This is Life Changing!)
As Christians we have a responsibility to trade in satan’s lies for God’s truth. Here’s how to take every thought captive for Christ so you can do just that!
Do you ever find yourself thinking thoughts you know aren’t true, but you feel they’re true, or you feel you can’t help yourself?
» For example, maybe you’re a chronic worrier. You rarely let your children your sight, and you’re always giving them tons of rules and reminders to keep them safe. No running in the house! No jumping off the deck! No food unless I’m there to watch you!
» Maybe you have terrible self-esteem. You know the Bible says God loves you, but you don’t see how He could. You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re too old, you’re stupid, you’ve messed up too many times… You feel a failure. You don’t love you and you don’t believe anyone else can either.
» Or maybe you’re secretly really judgmental. You don’t mean to silently judge those who look, dress, parent or vote differently than you, but it’s you can’t help it. The thoughts and attitudes just pop in your head automatically – outside of your conscious control.
Do any of these sound familiar?
If so – then it’s time to learn how to take every thought captive to Christ!
Lies We Believe
So, recently I read the book “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis, and it was SO good. (A little light on the Christian worldview, but still really good as long as you keep that in mind too.)
Basically, Rachel goes into all the gory detail of all the lies she has believed over the years, along with tips for how she personally learned to take every thought captive and overcome each one. It’s honest, authentic, vulnerable, touching… and really funny.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure statement for details. Thanks!
So I started thinking — “What lies have *I* believed over the years?” And man oh man, do I have a list…
Here’s the short version:
- That I’m not good enough. I’ll never be good enough.
- That no one wants me.
- That if I were skinny enough, I’d be worthwhile. (side note: This one turned into a lovely eating disorder)
- That I can’t ask for help. I shouldn’t need help. I should be able to do EVERYTHING. All at once.
- That if I ask for anything, I’ll be a burden, and they won’t want me anymore.
- That when other people compliment me, they’re just saying it because they’re “supposed to.” They don’t really mean it.
- That I’d ruined my life and forfeited all of God’s plans for me.
- That my husband doesn’t want to be with me. That I’ve ruined his life.
- That I’m a terrible wife/mother/friend.
- And the list goes on and on…
And you know what the funny thing is — I actually have really healthy self-esteem. Probably better than most people. I’m generally pretty content with life and happy with who I am. I know I try hard to be a Godly woman.
And yet, I still have thoughts these from time to time!
And I’m guessing you do too.
Related: Who I Am in Christ: 10 Life-Changing Truths All Christians Must Know
So What’s Going On??
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” — 1 Peter 5:8
So here’s the good news: Just because a thought is in your head does NOT mean it’s your thought; it does NOT mean you put it there; and it does NOT mean that it’s true.
satan and his demons actually have the power to put negative, false and even thoughts in your head, making them sound they’re your thoughts, when they’re NOT.
Many times, they’re actually satan’s thoughts, designed to distract you and disable you, leaving you incapable of carrying out God’s purposes for your life, and robbing you of the blessings that God has in store for you!
The Solution: Take Every Thought Captive to Christ
“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” — Martin Luther
Ready for even more good news? Just because a thought pops into your head doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
You actually have the power to CHOOSE what you believe and what you allow into your mind. Sure, you may not be able to stop every single bad, negative or untrue thought from popping into your mind, but you definitely don’t have to let bad thoughts live there. You have the power to kick them out!
And you do that when you take every thought captive to Christ. Here’s how:
Related Video: Fighting Fear and Negative Thought Patterns
How to Take Every Thought Captive to Christ
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5
1. Pay Attention to Your Inner Monologue
So what thoughts fill your mind on a daily basis? And are you even aware of them, or have you just grown so used to them that they can fill your mind without you even being consciously aware of it?
For example, how often do you tell yourself…
- That you’re not good enough?
- That you can never do anything right?
- That if only you could do/have _________ , then you’d be happy?
- That you should be more [this specific person] or less [that specific person]?
How often do you worry…
- That something bad will happen to you or your family?
- That you’ll lose your job and be out on the streets?
- That you’ll never have/accomplish that goal or possession you’ve been obsessing about lately?
Action Step: What thoughts are you (or satan) telling yourself on a regular basis? Take a few days to listen in. Make a list. Write them down. (All of them. On paper. Yes, really.)
2. Compare Your Thoughts With Scripture
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” — 2 Timothy 3:16
Next, once you’ve identified the thoughts that fill your mind on a regular basis, it’s time to take them to Scripture and see how them compare.
After all, as Christians, we believe that Scripture is 100% truth. So if God’s Word says one thing and your mind says another thing, YOU’RE the one who is wrong — not Scripture.There are no exceptions. No ifs, ands, or buts. The Scripture does not apply to “everyone but you.”
Sure, that may sound harsh, but it’s actually really great news! Because it means many of the negative thoughts in your head are just lies, and you don’t have to believe them anymore. In fact, you’re morally obligated NOT to!
- Lie: No one will ever love me.
- Truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16 (that includes you!)
- Lie: Resisting [this particular sin] is too hard. I can’t do it.
- Truth: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” — Philippians 4:13
- Lie: I’ve messed up too bad. I’m a failure.
- Truth: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” — Romans 8:37
Action Step: Head over to Google and type in “Bible verses about [whatever you’re dealing with].” For example, Bible verses about God’s love, Bible verses about how God takes care of us, Bible verses about worry, etc. What does the Bible have to say about the lies you’ve been believing?
3. Proclaim the Truth Over Your Life
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:32
Once you 1) know the lines you’ve been believing and 2) know the truth that sets you free, it’s time to start proclaiming these truths over your life. This is the fun part
Take Every Thought Captive! How To Do It
How exactly are we supposed to take every thought captive?
On the surface, it seems kind of confusing, right? Every day, thousands of thoughts flit through my brain, some noble, some sinful, and some just plain ol’ weird (who first decided they were going to eat eggs?).
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul says:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
Sounds impressive, right? Destroying arguments and lofty opinions. Taking every thought captive. Paul is using the language of war. Of battle. Of hand-to-hand combat.
But what exactly does it look to take every thought captive? Let’s look a bit deeper.
Take Every Thought Captive – The Context
It’s important to note that when Paul talks about taking every thought captive and making them all obedience to Christ, he’s NOT talking about his own thoughts. Rather, he’s talking about the sinful, incorrect, Christ-opposing worldviews of both the Corinthians and his enemies.
When his opponents try to deceive the Corinthians (and other Christians) with false doctrine, Paul takes that false doctrine captive. He destroys is by the power of God’s word.
Now, that being said, I believe we can still apply this passage to our own lives. I believe that God calls us to, in a sense, take our own thoughts captive. To not let our random thoughts dictate how we live, but instead to let Christ be our guide.
So how do we take our own thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ?
Take Every Thought Captive By The Word of God
In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
This tells me that I can’t use natural means to take my thoughts captive. The power of positive thinking won’t work. Finding my inner Zen won’t help me wrangle my thoughts into obeying Christ. Developing a winner’s mindset isn’t the solution.
If I’m going to take my thoughts captive, I need to use supernatural weapons.
The primary weapon in my battle against my thoughts is the Word of God. The main weapon in my arsenal is the sacred scriptures.
As it says in Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
All of my thoughts, ideas, desires, and passions must be submitted to the word of God. They must be brought under and submitted to the all-encompassing authority of the scriptures.
When a thought arises, I must ask myself the following questions:
- Does God’s word have anything to say about this thought?
- Is this thought in contradiction to the Word of God?
- Am I allowing the Bible to determine what I think or some other factor?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not easy in any way. To submit every thought to God’s word requires hard work. To let God’s word dismantle your ideas and thoughts about yourself can be extremely painful.
John Piper says:
I have experienced this very painfully. If you put your mind and thoughts really at the disposal of the apostolic teaching and say, “Anything in my thinking that needs to be destroyed, destroy it.” That can utterly undo you.There have been seasons in my life where I have wept over the dismantling of what felt really important structures in my brain.
The first and primary way that we take every thought captive is by daily, hourly, minute-by-minute submitting our thoughts to the word of God. We say to God, “Let my every thought be dismantled and reassembled according to your word. Destroy every lofty opinion I hold that is not in line with your word.”
The Power of Reading and Memorizing God’s Word
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out here that reading and memorizing God’s word are absolutely essential if we’re going to take every thought captive. When we store up God’s word in our hearts, the Holy Spirit is able to bring it to mind in key moments.
As Psalm 119:9-11 puts it:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
When our hearts and minds are full of God’s word, it’s much easier to take every thought captive. If we don’t read and memorize God’s word, we’re going to find it much harder to bring our thoughts into submission to the Word of God.
Take Every Thought Captive By The Power Of The Holy Spirit
If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that there’s no way we can submit every thought to the Word of God – at least in our own strength. With thousands of thoughts occurring rapid fire every second of every day, the only way we can take every thought captive is by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that when Paul talks about destroying false arguments and lofty opinions, he says that his weapons are not of the flesh. In other words, Paul isn’t relying on human willpower to take every thought captive. He doesn’t believe that if he simply buckles down, he can make every thought submit to Christ.
The reality is that we desperately need the Holy Spirit to empower us. Think about it for a second. We have thought patterns that have burned into our minds over decades. Are we really so foolish as to think that we can take those captive with our own strength?
In some ways, I think this ties into the biblical concept of praying without ceasing. The entire Christian life is meant to be lived in total dependence on God. As much as possible, we bring our thoughts before God and ask him to help us take them captive. We pray constantly, asking God to align our thoughts with his sacred word.
We recognize that we can’t fight our flesh with ordinary, human means. We need supernatural power from God in order to take every thought captive.
Only By The Power of God
Charles Spurgeon said:
There have been many who would do well if they would learn that they have nothing beyond what God has given them. And the more God has given them, the more they are in debt!
Never has this been more true than when it comes to taking every thought captive. If we are able to take our thoughts captive, it’s because God himself has given us the power.
So let us strive to take every thought captive, and as we do, let us give thanks to God for giving us the power to do so.
A Prayer for Stress & Anxiety – Prayers
Is stress holding you hostage and keeping you from rest? Do you feel burdens pressing in that seem too heavy to bear? When anxious thoughts pull you in the wrong direction, and you're struggling to find balance, the following prayer might express your thoughts and help you find relief and freedom.
Before praying, consider these 4 steps for praying over anxiety, as suggested by well-known author and speaker Max Lucado:
- Pray immediately.
“Don’t stew over the problems that are besetting you or your neighbor. Ask God for help as soon as you identify a need.”
- Pray specifically.
“When we boil our concerns down to a specific request, they become right-sized. Vague threats loom larger than concrete challenges.”
- Pray for and with others.
“When we consider the problems of others and enlist their help with ours, our concerns become more manageable.”
- Pray with thanksgiving.
“Anxiety and gratitude cannot occupy the same space. When we catalog what are thankful for, our list of challenges grows less powerful.”
A Prayer for Relief of Stress and Anxiety
Lord Jesus, the stresses in my life often reach a dangerous proportion—or so it seems. My body, mind, and spirit struggle to keep up physically, mentally, and yes, spiritually.
Some days anxiety stalks me a deceitful predator, and the temptation to worry draws me in. I know better, but some days the challenges outweigh the truths buried inside.
My trust in You fades into the background, giving fear and concerns permission to discourage me.In those moments of apprehension, help me remember that I belong to You, and that You are not the author of fear or anxiety, but the giver of love and a sound mind. Teach me Your ways to respond to problems by giving thanks in them. Your Word assures me that You are always there with me.
You are the Blessed Controller of all things, and nothing escapes Your attention in my life. You have given me every tool and spiritual blessing to fight against those things that try to steal my peace. You’ve promised that when I’m stressed and burdens are trying to weigh me down, I can come to You.
You will give me sweet rest!
Whether the anxiety stems from work, parenting, finances, physical issues, or even world conditions, You are there, Lord, to shoulder the weight. Teach me to recognize the stressful trials as tools for you to shape me and rearrange me.
Through those difficult times, You will teach me patience, enlarge my faith, and help me see things I couldn't see earlier—if I will only let You. When I'm clueless as to what to do, Lord, I want to turn to you first, not last.
Forgive me for trying to handle things on my own, Lord. The need to be in control sometimes gets a stronghold on my life. That only makes things worse. I want to trust You more and see things from Your perspective, not my own. No one makes me feel uptight, angry, or stressed, and no one forces me to react negatively. I choose to respond according to my beliefs.
Do I believe You are in control? Do I believe You created all things and hold all things in Your Hand? Do I believe You are truly good? When an anxious thought creeps in, help me to stop and relax, to take that thought captive, and to turn apprehension into a calm prayer for deliverance. Revamp my belief system, Lord.
Show me a new way to handle life according to Your Way.
No matter what issues I am dealing with; no matter how big the problems or situations, I'm laying them all at Your feet today. Turn these potentials for stress into lessons for growth and trust.
When I can't see any possible solutions, I choose to believe that You are working things out for my good—in Your own time, as you have in the past. Show me what to do, or what not to do.As I focus on You, remembering Your promises and Your words, I believe You will fill me with a peace that is beyond all understanding.
In Your precious name,
A Short Prayer for An Anxious Heart
Dear Lord, I thank you that I can come to You always for any reason. I’m grateful that when I pray to You, You answer me.
Help me to come to You at the beginning of my fears and anxieties instead of waiting until I can’t stand them anymore. The quicker I come to You the better. You want to free me from ALL my fears.
Help me look to You for help more often so that I can be radiant with Your joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
– Jennifer Heeren
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is an inspirational author, speaker, and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to encourage others heart to heart.
She has written 11 books and over 1700 other articles, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Her daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is available for delivery through Crosswalk.com.
You can find out more about Rebecca at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for Strength
Prayer for Protection
Good Night Prayers
A Birthday Prayer
Prayer for Forgiveness
Prayer for Guidance
Prayer for Peace
Prayer for Faith
Prayer for Love
30 Days of Prayer: Pray to Take Every Thought Captive (Day 10)
Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash
Do you pay attention to every thought that runs through your mind throughout the day? Would you say that they are honoring and reflective of a person who loves and follows after our Abba? If not, why? What’s stopping your attentiveness?
Welcome back to day 10 of the 30 Days of Prayer series! I hope you enjoyed the little break yesterday. I know I sure did.
But today it is time to dig back in and rise up for yet the next challenge we find in the scriptures: to take our thoughts captive.
Ready, sweet sister? Let’s begin.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~ 2 Cor. 10:5
Scripture has quite a lot to say about the importance of the mind. From the Hebraic perspective, the heart and the mind are one and the same, actually intertwined and combined in their work.
The emotions and the mind work in quite a bit of harmony, and the emotions of one can be spurned into action by the other.The problem is that with the busyness of life, we often do not give attention to every thought of our inner world. Rather than lead them with intentional thinking, we are led by these random “ramblings of the mind” and often left with great confusion and emotional upheaval wondering, “what is happening to me?”
Thoughts are often the product of people, television, social media, or radio around us (and this is very intentional to provide adequate mind control). This is why we must be vigilant to be careful what we allow to enter into our minds. The enemy surely is planting his seeds of destruction all around, all the time.
We must not only be careful to keep the distractions and confusion our minds, but we also must intentionally plant to Truth in our minds. We must be readers and doers of the Word.
Related: Pray to Have a Hunger for the Word
Remember, we are a set apart people.
Just prior to this admonition to take thoughts captive we see what this is all about: spiritual warfare and recognizing that this is not our home.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~ 2 Cor. 10:3-5
We are to be a set apart people, and to be so we must first begin in our minds. This is where the foundational elements of our character and personhood lie. What do you focus your thoughts on throughout the day? Is it on the things that please and honor God, or is it on the things of the world?
Do you listen to the Word or things of the Spirit? Or do you let your mind wander and be led by the passions of the body and the world?
Related: Pray to Have a Hunger for the Word
Do you lead your mind with intentional prayers when you notice things running through your mind that are not beneficial? Do you rebuke and correct inaccurate lies that pop up as you navigate tricky and troublesome situations?
Photo Credit Mark Wielinga of Unsplash
What you allow to survive, you allow to thrive.
Each of these responses set the stage for your walk with the Lord. What we allow to survive and thrive in our minds become the foreground of growth and cultivation in our hearts.
A good man brings good things the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” ~ Luke 6: 45
It is not enough to simply make every thought happy or positive, the New Age Movement teaches. Rather, we must turn our minds over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is why it is imperative to be in the Word regularly, so that the washing and cleansing of the Word (Eph. 5: 26) can do its good work to purify our hearts and minds.Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” ~ Ps. 51: 10
However, thankfully, it is never too late to take your thoughts captive! The Spirit will help you to regain control of every thought of the mind.
Our Lord is generous and quick to save those who cry out for help and assistance. So, if you know that your mind is going places it need not go, now is the time to begin the active walk of obedience in Him.
The Holy Spirit will provide you with the way out. Seek His guidance, always.
What does scripture say?
Let’s see what scripture says about the heart and mind (again, these words are synonymous in Hebrew). Do any of these jump out at you as necessary to memorize and internalize for you?
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” ~ Prov. 4: 23
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil. 4: 6-7
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” ~ Rom. 8: 6
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” ~ Mark 12: 30
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 1: 13
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Rom. 12: 2
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” ~ Is. 26: 3
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” ~ 2 Tim. 1: 7
“He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” ~ James 1: 8
Photo Credit to Eli Defaria on Unsplash
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” ~ Phil. 4: 8
“But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” ~ Rom. 7: 23
“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the ness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” ~ Eph. 4: 22-24
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” ~ Col. 3: 1-2
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” ~ Prov. 3: 5
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” ~ Matt. 5: 28
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” ~ Ps. 19: 14
…and SO many more.
Read the Word and Your Take Thoughts Captive to Christ
As you keep praying to have a hunger for the Word, pray for the Spirit to bring scriptures alive to you. Ask for Him to convict you of the areas within yourself that He wants you to focus on and work on first. The Spirit is diligent to reveal to us the most prevalent areas that need to be immediately addressed.
Listen to the leading of the Lord and correct what needs correcting.
Abba, help me to take control of my thoughts so that my mind may be pure before You. I know that You know all things and there is nothing that I can hide from You. Forgive me for my unrighteous, sinful thoughts.
Give me the strength to rebuke those which are contrary to Your commands, and instill in me a clean heart of love and commitment to You. I love You. Show me the Way, Abba, one step at a time.
And thank You for Your constant hand of grace upon my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
May your mind be strengthened to fight for the battle is raging all around. But, first, it begins with your inner fight. Claim the land of your own mind first that you have the right soil prospering the right seeds for the good fight.
And, He will continue to lead you each day.
Anxious thoughts are debilitating. They sap your energy, control your actions and wreck your wellbeing. Fear, anxiety and worry are detrimental to your health.
They are the cause of stress and stress-related illnesses. Anxiety keeps you locked in to an unending spiral of negativity which eventually leads to depression.
Learn to deal with anxious thoughts as soon as you become aware of them.
In a recent post we talked about surrendering control; allowing what is to simply be without attempting to micromanage every aspect of life. But what if you are being held hostage by your own anxious thoughts? How can you possibly let go?
First of all, there is a difference between anxiety thinking, which happens at any time, and the real fear that you feel when in a dangerous situation. Real fear will save your life.
The adrenaline pumping, no-thought, fear which forces you to run, fight or take some kind of avoiding action is natural. That isn’t what we’re talking about here. The fearful thinking that causes long-term damage is a habit.
It’s also one you can learn to break.
Anxious Thoughts are Habitual
- “I’m worried about him/her/them.”
- “I wake feeling anxious.”
- “I don’t know why I feel so scared all the time.”
- “I keep expecting the worst.”
- “I worry about the future.”
- “What if I lose my job?”
- “Things are all right now but what if it all goes wrong?”
- “We don’t have enough money”
- “I’m stressed all the time.”
- “They judge me.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “I wish I could turn the clock back.”
- “I made bad decisions.”
- “What if I make a fool of myself?”
- “I can’t.”
These non-specific thoughts are called General Anxiety Disorder. There’s no real reason for them. Sometimes they are past events; more often they are stories that you make up – ‘what ifs’.
The worrier takes the current circumstance and builds a worse-case scenario of all the things that could go wrong. This becomes the focus of their thoughts and they are unable to let go or get the negative thinking cycle. Anxious thoughts become a habit.
You Can’t Control Anxiety
“Pull yourself together,” you tell yourself. You know you are worried about nothing and you make a determined effort to control your thoughts. The more you try to control them, the more they control you. You begin to worry that you can’t control them therefore there must be something wrong with you. Something else to worry about. You see how it goes?
So you try yoga, meditation, psychotherapy… and they work for a little while. You use techniques to calm your mind and reach for a little peace. But those old habits creep back in. You hardly even notice them until you realize that you are stressed over a minor problem again. You haven’t controlled your thinking so you must be a failure. Or so you think.
Anxiety Thoughts Keep You Separated
Some will share their worries and receive temporary reassurance by doing that. Others keep their thoughts locked inside. This causes separation and difficulty making connections with others. You can’t be yourself when you are being eaten up by worry.
Life isn’t perfect. Difficulties arise: illness, death, debt, accidents, and so on. Life is unpredictable. However bad it is though, there are always positive possibilities to be happy. Worrying about all the bad stuff prevents us seeing the good in the moment.
Let’s say your husband just came home and told you his company is closing. Completely the blue, nobody saw it coming. What will you do? There aren’t any jobs around at the moment. Panic sets in. This is a completely normal and understandable reaction. As a little time passes, the non-worrier begins to feel better.There are opportunities – sure you might have to move, or retrain, or set up a business. There are things that can be done. The worrier can’t do that. They are mired in despair, fear and victim-mentality. They can’t see any opportunities. They keep themselves separated from possibilities by their own anxious thoughts.
How to Let Go of Anxious Thoughts
First of all, dismiss the idea that you must control or suppress your thoughts. Way too much hard work. You can also forget all that good advice, such as:
- Distract yourself – this will work sometimes, but as soon as they have the chance, those thought-habits will be back.
- Think positive – probably the most annoying advice ever. Perhaps being told to ‘cheer up’ is worse.
- Get peaceful – how can you get to a state of feeling peaceful if you have all these worries churning around in your mind?
What you have to do is deal with the thoughts one at a time. This is how to do it:
Observe Your Thoughts
Be the observer of the thought. It’s funny isn’t it? You can think a thought but somewhere there is another part of you noticing the thought. Try it. Count to ten in your mind. Visualize or mentally say the numbers. Behind that counting thought, there’s another part ‘watching’ you do it. So when you catch yourself thinking anxiously, be that observer, rather than the thinker.
When you become the observer, you realize that the anxious thought is not you. It’s just a thought that came in. As you observe it, the thought melts away. Let the thoughts come, and easily let them go clouds dissipating in a blue sky.
As the thought melts away, so does the anxiety attached to it. You have surrendered to your own well-being.
Of course, this is no instant cure-all. It will work in the moment, but your job is to continue to observe and let go, observe and let go. Each time you do this, you become more centered, grounded and sure of yourself. Every time you let go, your anxiety lessens.
You are Not a Bad Person
You are not deficient, or bad, or a hopeless case for being worried or thinking anxious thoughts. You are a human being living a human experience. You have had years of practice at worrying. It’s not going to disappear overnight.
Let the thoughts arise. Notice them and acknowledge them. You can say to yourself, “I acknowledge you, Thought, but I’m busy right now so I’ll give you my attention later.” And let it go.
Each time, “I’ll think about that later.” The chatterer in your head, your ego, is satisfied and turns its attention to something else.
If it is another worry, rinse and repeat until you reach a state of peace.You have found your natural resilience and it didn’t take too much effort, did it?
7 Healthy Ways to Deal with Incessant Worrying
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Take Every Thought Captive — Darby Dugger
A popular Bible verse that is a favorite for sermons and blog posts a is 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says,
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
I attended a Christian high school and have been walking with the Lord since I was sixteen, so I’ve been familiar with this verse for decades.
I’ve quoted it to struggling friends and have prayed it over myself during times of anxiety. It seems that taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is the winning lottery ticket.
Though I struggle with the application of it, that single act is the solution to all my struggles.
For your sake I stopped the list, but you get the idea. The command to take our thoughts captive is one we must not overlook, but as engrained as the concept is in my brain, I am still unsure how to accomplish it.
When a thought enters my mind that does not line up with Scripture, I have two choices: dwell on it or rebuke it. Lately my thought life has been spinning control, leaving me exhausted from wrestling with my mind.
The onslaught of bitter, negative, discouraging, impure, and selfish thoughts seems unending, my control, and unchangeable.
Near a point of sheer defeat, I begged God for help!
God answered my plea in a surprising way by asking me to scrapbook. Scrapbooking is my favorite hobby, but I rarely make time for it anymore. Needless to say, I was happy to oblige to this prompting.
With a Diet Coke in one hand and worship music playing in the background, I stood over my paper and rearranged pictures from my daughter’s birthday party. Before I knew it, a few hours had passed, and I had several pages completed.
Then the Lord decided my heart was ready to receive his message:
You focus too much on the past, the future, and people outside of your home. Your phone, TV, and computer are vehicles you use to transport your thoughts to where they should not go.And you wonder why you struggle to take your thoughts captive?! Notice how this evening your mind hasn’t once dwelt on the childhood wound you often reminisce about, nor have you thought negatively about anyone.
You haven’t once been anxious about your future or to-do list. You’ve simply spent time with me and focused on your family.
That conversation happened late at night when my husband was working and the children were asleep. God asked me to scrapbook so I would not be near my TV, computer, or phone. He cleverly eliminated my triggers so I could realize taking my thoughts captive isn’t as difficult as I have always assumed.
For years, I believed this spiritual discipline (if you can call it that) is a defensive measure. Whenever an unholy idea enters my mind, I must wrestle it to the ground, and the cycle continues every day, hour, minute.
Talk about exhausting! No wonder I’ve struggled with this. For me, wasting time on social media and daydreaming are my two primary areas of weakness. I use those times to fill my mind with comparisons, curiosities, and critical thoughts.
Time spent idly lays a foundation that is fertile for toxic thoughts.
The reality is that 2 Corinthians 10:5 would be easier to live out if I approached it offensively. Taking our minds captive is active! I can’t merely wrestle my thoughts to the ground and expect success.
I must eliminate the thought provokers in my life that aren’t godly in order to increase the venues that pave the way for holy thoughts. Filling my mind exclusively with God, his Word, and my family renders the anxious, selfish, and mean thoughts paralyzed in the doorway to my mind.
They have little room to be dwelled upon simply because my mind is so full of positives. Paul speaks of this in Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
Click To TweetI am grateful the Lord let me in on this important truth. Since then, I have been disciplined in limiting the negative triggers and choosing activities that encourage the traits in Philippians 4:8.
The battle for my mind has certainly quieted down, and I am much more peaceful.
If you have been struggling over the real estate of your mind, I encourage you to think offensively rather than just defensively!
Do you have any triggers that make it hard for you to take your thoughts captive? How can you combat those?
Sharing with Wifey Wednesday.