Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Free Thinking

"What we think about when we are free to think about whatever we will–that is what we are or will soon become.”
-A. W. Tozer in Born After Midnight

What do you think about when you get a free moment in your day? Let’s say you’re sitting at a red light or third in line at the checkout counter. Do you immediately pull out your phone to check your social media status? Or maybe watch a quick, entertaining video? There’s no harm in that, is there?

Tozer disagrees, “Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are; they predict what we will become.” If we voluntarily spend our free time distracting ourselves, we are or will become distracted people. We will be driven by the latest likes or friend requests, or lack thereof.

The Bible says a lot about our thoughts, however our evangelical churches and leaders tend to say very little. They are more concerned with our actions– do this or that, don’t do that or this. Conversely, rather than trying to force ourselves into obedience through strength of our will, God tells us right actions flow freely from right thinking. The Psalms are filled with references to right thinking inciting us to right actions.

I thought about my ways
and turned my steps back to Your decrees.
               -Psalm 119:59

I meditate on all You have done;
I reflect on the work of Your hands.
               -Psalm 143:5

Jesus implores us, “Abide in me, and I in you.” How better to abide in Jesus than thinking on his word?  One simple way I’ve found to remain in Christ during free thinking times is the ancient Christian practice of breath prayers.  

The Spirit of God and breath are closely connected throughout the Bible.  “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) Elihu tells Job, “the Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).  After his resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22)

We too can intentionally link our breath to the work of the Holy Spirit through breath prayers which is simply timing the phrases of your prayer with your breath.  Here’s an example using Psalm 119:45:

On the inhale pray, “I call with all my heart”,
then exhale while praying, answer me, Lord.”,
on next inhale pray, “I will obey Your statutes.”,
with the exhale simply pause in expectation a few seconds.
Repeat slowly as you rest in Christ and his word.

Go to PrayerReach.org for more info on prayer and to enroll in Deepen Your Prayer Life, a free online contemplative prayer course.

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