Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Unfree Thinking

Last week we talked about the controlling nature of our free thinking—the thoughts we voluntarily choose to think—and how they determine our actions. But what about our involuntary thoughts? You know the ones I’m talking about. Those often selfish, self-centered, and judgmental thoughts that crash into our minds uninvited.  Once again A.W. Tozer has some keen insights into these ‘wedding crashing’ thoughts, 

“In our journey through this evil and hostile world, many thoughts will be forced upon us which we do not like and for which we have no moral sympathy. The necessity to make a living may compel us for days on end to entertain thoughts in no sense elevating. Ordinary awareness of the doings of our fellow men will bring thoughts repugnant to our Christian soul. These need affect us but little. For them we are not responsible, and they pass through our minds like a bird through the air, without leaving a trace. They have no lasting effect upon us because they are not our own. They are unwelcome intruders for which we have no love and which we get rid of as quickly as possible.”

Tozer wisely advises that these uninvited thoughts are not a true reflection of our character. If they are involuntary they are not who we really are. He offers a simple test to help uncover our true spiritual condition,

“Anyone who wishes to check his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn were it would? When the bird of thought was let go did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses, or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are but also what we are going to become. We’ll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts.”

If this test reveals that your ’birds of thought’ too often settles on the floating carcasses of social media and crass entertainment Tozer offers help. “The best way to control our thoughts is to offer the mind to God in complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept it and take control of it immediately.”

Breath prayers are simple, easy to learn, and useful ways to practice the art of mental prayer as we work and travel.   You can also 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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