Listening to God and Putting a Leash on Your Thoughts

Well, guys, I was just about to add a new post about the prayer of adherents of other world religions, but it doesn't seem thorough enough to satisfy my slightly perfectionist tendencies, so I'll save it for another day.

Here's the real deal, something I can't emphasize enough: pray. Do you get it yet? Pray. And then pray some more. And then pray a little more after that, and when you're done, pray some more. But don't stop there.

Have you ever had a friend who just wouldn't shut up, that whenever you were with him, he did all the talking, and you wondered if it would even matter if you painted eyeballs on your eyelids and went to sleep because you weren't contributing to the conversation at all? I'll bet that that friendship didn't last very long. It's not much of a relationship if one person does all the yakking while the other one just sits there. Now, God's not a bored pal sitting across the lunchroom table trying to figure out a way to escape -- He's far more patient than you or I could ever be. But it's kind of inconsiderate to have the total attention of the All-Powerful Creator of the whole universe and not let Him get a word in edgewise, don't you think?

So shut up a little bit, just every so often. The God we serve is in the business of revealing Himself to people, and He wants to reveal Himself to you. Let Him.

That said, let me throw in a word of caution. God's Word tells us that we're not to believe every spirit, but that we're to test the spirits to see if they are from God or not (1 John 4:1). In other words, you can't just blindly go with whatever passes through your brain while you're praying. Everyone who is or has ever been a teenager knows that human thoughts and emotions are seriously prone to all kinds of error and contradiction and can lead us in a tragically bad direction if we don't make our thoughts wear a leash. So, what's the leash? The Word of God. Sometimes your mind just needs a little cutesy collar like the ones my friend Lindsey puts on her adorable miniature schnauzer. Other times, that sucker needs a heavy-duty metal choke chain! Every thought that floats into your head has to have the Bible's leash put around it, and accepted or rejected based on what's in God's Word. Does it fit? Do you know God's Word well enough to be able to tell?

Just as a case in point, how about a sample internal monologue, from a sweet little Christian girl who just hasn't been able to find the time to learn the Bible:

Silly Sally: La-dee-da, La-dee-dee, praying to God, dum-dee-dum
Thoughts: Hey, I think God loves everyone.
SS: Yup, that sounds like something I heard in church. Cool.
T: Hey, I think if God loves everyone, then that means he must not want them to go to hell.
SS: Yeah, that sounds pretty good too!
T: Hey, I think that God must be pretty powerful if He made everything
SS: For sure! Keep going!
T: Hey, I think that if God loves everyone, and doesn't want them to go to hell, and He has the ability to keep them from going to hell, then that means everyone is going to heaven whether they believe in Jesus as their savior or not!
SS: All right, I'll buy that! It makes God sound nice, and I like nice people! La-dee-da-dee-da

All of you should be hearing a major red alert in your brains right now. Let's try this again, with a person who is familiar with scripture:

Bible Betty: Thanks, Lord, for the Bible! It's so great that You gave this to me so I could know You better.
Thoughts: Hey, I think God loves everyone.
BB: Obviously, that's true. John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He sent Christ to die for them!
T: Hey, I think if God loves everyone, then that means he must not want them to go to hell.
BB: That's also true! 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is unwilling for anyone to perish and wants everyone to come to repentance!
T: Hey, I think that God must be pretty powerful if He made everything!
BB: Yeah, He definitely is! In fact, Colossians 1:16 says that he even created power itself!
T: Hey, I think that if God loves everyone, and doesn't want them to go to hell, and He has the ability to keep them from going to hell, then that means everyone is going to heaven whether they believe in Jesus as their savior or not!
BB: That's not true! God has a standard that none of us can live up to! Romans 3:23 says that every one of us has sinned which makes us unworthy to be in a relationship with God Who is perfect. And the only way we can have a right relationship with God is through Jesus, who took our sins to the cross! Jesus says in John 14:6 that nobody can get to God except through Him! I'm rejecting that thought, because it opposes what I know is true from Scripture!

Listen, random thoughts happen to the best of us. My brain has definitely come up with some pretty wacko, out-there ideas over the years, but my thoughts have a leash. They are controlled, God willing, by Scripture, through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Don't go at this prayer thing alone. Start digging into the Story that God wrote for you. It's all about Him, and He'll reveal Himself on every page.


Allison said...

Speaking of praying and prayer... I REALLY REALLY NEED IT! MY FAMILY TOO! Last night my dog was coughhing really bad and she wouldnt move... now she had been coughing for about a month, but she was really bad.. so we took her to the vet last night, and the doc said that she has heart congestion, and so it caused fluids to go into her lungs, making it hard to breathe, and her heart was just slowly failing (keeping in mind that she is like 16, which is old) Then they determined if she was miserable b/c there was nothing they could do about it at all... they said it wouldnt be right to keep her alive in that state, so we had to put her down.... and everyone in my family is devastated.... we have had her ever since we lived in malaysia..... so, its a big loss.... its funny how an animal becomes so dear to you.... and I didnt really appreciate her until she was gone.... I always complaied about all she ever did was eat sleep and poop.... anyways.... my other dog, we have to get rid of her b/c she is getting too agressive and dangerous.. so I will be dogless as of tommorrow.... Then, my little brother got bit by a spider or something, his whole knee swelled up like a watermelon, so my mom took him to the doctor and they gave him medicine cuz it was infected, and said if it gets any bigger then they need to go to the emergency room... well its alot worse, and my parents are now determining whether to take him to the ER or not.... so please, pray for him, because he is scared, and he is in alot of pain. and last but not least, there is alot of tension going on within the youth music leaders, and its pretty bad.... Im just really stressed out... But, I know God is faithful.

Laura's Dad said...

Hey, everyone, that's my daughter! You probably can tell I'm proud of her. And you know what else? My Father gets all the glory!

Great advice, Laura, and well-put. Hope we're all paying attention. It's SO easy to get deceived if we don't know The Truth. As someone once put it, "You wouldn't have to try to read God's mind if you'd read His Word."

Tom said...

I know the good rule of thumb is pray even if its not meaning ful, but just pray. And by doing that at times form that alone my prayer becomes some deep heartfealt and very honest and when it's over I feel great beyond measure, but then there are the shallow times and balancing my prayer requests of myself and for those that I know need it more that I.

Laura's Dad said...

Tom, you're exactly right. Faithliving means that often OBEDIENCE PRECEDES MOTIVATION. In other words, you DO something (because you know God told you to) BEFORE your WANT to do it. Then, after you start to obey, you WANT to keep obeying.

I once heard some preacher say, "Motivation is over-rated. What Jesus expects of His disciples is obedience, not motivation." His desire is that you DO what He says, not that you WANT to do it, because He knows that once you begin to obey, you will want to obey even more.


Annaleigh said...

Yes I read it when I get chances. Laura, all of your posts are incredably relevant to what is going on through my mind. Allison, I hope your brother is getting better, I'll prey for him.

Debbie said...

Those of us who talk alot can really relate to this. Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't just put His hands over his ears and say, "I can't hear you!" In these days of unimaginable disaster in our country, and people crying out for help, it is my sincere prayer that Christians would respond with tangible witness. I don't see much on the news about groups gathering for prayer to be rescued, or people present at the disaster to bring the love of Christ. Where is the body of Christ?

Russ said...

Great post! I am battling this so hard right now. Prayer is war. It is a battle to remain focused. I take it SO lightly so often that I am in the presence of GOD.

Such a long way to go...However, I want my prayers to be saturated with the Word. I want to "breathe" the Word in prayer, so to speak. Might sound weird, but that is prayer to me. I suffocate without it.

I have yet to read a bad post from you, Laura! Keep writing

Allison said...

pray for my little brother... his knee is worse now... it is big and swollen and the doctors cultured it and found out that it is drug-resistant staff infection. which is really bad and contagious.... pray for him that God would bring him healing.... yes... it may be drug-resistent.... but it isnt prayer-resistent.

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