I now start most days sitting for ten minutes in silence as part of my morning ritual.
It has surprised me how difficult it is, not so much being silent, but stopping my thought life. Try it for yourself after you’ve read this post, and see how random thoughts constantly enter your mind.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps 46:10 NLT) The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means “Let go of your grip.” Let go of all that preoccupies your mind so you can open yourself up to a whole new kind of knowing.
A knowing that can only come from God. The enemy doesn’t want us to be still, just as the enemy hates it when we pray. They love to distract us from our prayer life because they know prayer engages a response from heaven. When my mind goes off as I sit in silence, I just pray “Come, Jesus come” or something similar. I may have to do this a number of times just to still my mind.
Maintaining a positive thought life has been a constant challenge for me. I’m convinced it’s a key area where the spiritual battle is played out.
Many of you will be familiar with the CS Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters where a senior demon, Screwtape, instructs a junior demon, Wormwood, on how to be successful in winning over his human victim. Be subtle, influence thoughts, tempt him to think about, distract from the positive, fuel the imagination about what might happen, etc, Screwtape’s letters exhort. The enemy can be so successful in its endeavors to influence our thoughts that unknowingly we can build walled fortresses in our mind.
I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference in 2012 and God used this event to highlight a lie I’d allowed myself to believe all the years of my marriage. This lie had become a fortress in my mind. I don’t recall exactly how I convinced myself so many years ago to believe what I did. However, I do know that I had continued to perpetuate this falsity to such an extent that I seriously doubted my future opportunities in ministry. The lie? I couldn’t have any form of ministry because I was married to a non-believer.
Now I went to ACFW seeking to connect with other authors and help promote my debut novel Angelguard that was releasing a few months later. I was sitting in one of the workshops and listening to this author who was sharing about how she had written both a novel and non-fiction book that reflected her own personal situation of being married to a non-believer. Yes, you’ve guessed it; I was listening to our dear friend, Dineen. I was stunned by the fact that here was an author in a similar marital situation as myself who obviously had a ministry.
Excitement filled my heart.
Could it be possible to have a ministry? Truth invaded the fortress in my mind. I introduced myself to Dineen later that day and she blessed me with a copy of Winning Him Without Words.
On returning home, I devoured both books and did my own little research too. The release I experienced when I repented of believing this lie and allowing it to take such a hold on my future hopes was incredible. I literally felt a weight come off my shoulders. What this situation reconfirmed for me is the importance of vigilance in prayer and learning Scripture. Yes, learning it, not just reading it. We all have fortresses in our minds:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 NASB)
Further, developing connections with people that are sufficiently close that you share your thought life is important. Now this may be friends, spouses or even professionals such as mentors, coaches and counsellors. As with any battle, an isolated target is an easier target, so stay connected. What active steps do you take to keep steadfast in your thought life?
Notes: 1. Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton, IVP Books, p74 Ian’s Bio Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter. A Sneak Peek Into Angelguard
Within a period of weeks, three horrific bomb blasts devastate areas of London, Los Angeles and Sydney. No explanation is offered, no victory claimed for these acts of terror. Yet behind the scenes a Machiavellian European businessman is planning to bring the G8 nations to their knees for his own larcenous purposes, aided by the dark forces to whom he has sold his soul. Jack Haines, an Australian academic, is grieving the loss of wife and children in the Sydney blast. Against his will he finds himself thrown into a war that transcends the physical world, a conflict in which angelic guards have a special mission for him. This is a gripping novel of the unseen forces that throng our world. (We are blessed to have a copy of Ian's book to give away so leave a comment to enter the drawing.)