Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stray Thoughts

Stray or wandering thoughts may come into our minds when we attempt to listen to God. Instead of simply dismissing them, we can tune in to them and dismantle them by asking God about their underlying roots. This is part of what 2 Corinthians 10:5 has in mind when it speaks of “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Jacob struggled with self-hatred. He was extremely hard on himself. When we met to listen to God regarding his struggle, he said he was drawing a complete blank. We had several listening times together, with the same results.

At the beginning of our fourth meeting, he casually mentioned, “Listening to God doesn’t seem to work for me. Every time we listen, a phrase I heard in a sermon pops into my mind: ‘Never trust your first impressions.’”

I was flabbergasted. Although I’d instructed Jacob to share the first thing that came into his mind when we asked God a question, he held this back because he didn’t consider it important. We determined that the statement was a pronouncement. After Jacob renounced it, he was able to hear from God much more clearly .

The human mind is always active. When we ask God a question, something always pops into our minds. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t seem to answer the question we asked. Seemingly stray messages may come to us, such as:
  • Don’t trust your feelings.
  • What if this doesn’t work?
  • This feels awkward and contrived.
  • I’m afraid I won’t be able to hear from God.

Initially these thoughts may seem unimportant, but it’s essential to pay close attention to them. Inner healing focuses on what’s happening in the present and its relationship to the past. The truth is, there are no stray thoughts. This is especially true when we’ve prayed through the Listening to God Guidelines, because in doing so we specifically asked Jesus to speak to us and exercised His authority over all other voices. Thoughts come to us for a reason.

I have a quote from an unknown source hanging on the wall of my office. It says:
“You aren’t who you think you are. But what you think, you are!”

Instead of ignoring stray thoughts, we should ask God, What is the origin of the thought I just had? For example, “Don’t trust your feelings” may come from something your father said to you as a child. Or it may be the fruit of an event where you went in with your heart wide open and somebody stomped on it.


(To prepare to answer these questions, first pray through the Listening to God Guidelines.

In your listening, have stray thoughts come to you? If so, what were they?
 When you have a seemingly stray thought while listening, ask God about it. Jesus, what is the emotion underneath or associated with this thought?
 If God reveals an emotion, ask Him to stir this feeling up to open a window into your soul and take you to the first time you felt this way. Jot down the event from your past that comes to you.
Then ask, what did I come to believe in the midst of this event, Father?
Continue to listen asking, Jesus what do You have to communicate with me about what I came to believe?

(Adapted from A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer, Chapter 8, Pages 115-116)

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