In my quiet time, I use a phrase that calms the thoughts in my mind through repeated repetition. For example, the desert fathers and mothers in the early days of Christianity recited and used the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” to calm their restless thoughts and minds.
They would use prayer to concentrate and meditate upon God to pursue a deepening and abiding relationship with Christ. The repetition of the words of the prayer was a process of silencing the mindless thoughts that seemed to dominate our lives. Contemplative prayer is a way of creating a space for experiencing God’s presence in our hearts. The pathway of silence led to sharing the depths of Christ’s love in their souls. The goal of solitude and contemplative prayer is the union of our hearts with the heart of God. (The Goal of Contemplative Prayer)
As you take the time to get alone with God, you must understand that there will be internal chaos and noise in your head like never before. Everything in the world stands against your offering your devotion and heart in allegiance to the will of God.
When you decide to get alone with God, you will be like the person who has the door of their house open every day of their life and then suddenly closes and locks the door. The moment the door closes, everyone outside starts pounding on it, asking to let them in. The visitors want to know why they can’t come in any longer. With all its disturbing and confusing thoughts, the mind springs alive at that moment, with every kind of thinking bombarding you. They are yelling with all their lungs for you to open the door and let them in again. The thoughts are speaking in your head about everything you need to get done, and there is not enough time to get alone with God. There are appointments to keep, bills to pay, and work that must be done and accomplished. The thoughts and voices demand entrance to continue dominating and tormenting your soul. (Concentration on the Living Christ Connects us to the Presence of God)
There is no way to stop thoughts from continually barging in upon you. In the initial phase of getting alone in silence, you learn to let the thoughts come, and then you give them up. You let them go because they are the seedbed of distraction. I handle them by releasing them and allowing God to take them. I release them by willfully turning them over and over to Him. I then decide to let the distracting thoughts become the source of my prayers. They become prayers about what I need to get done and the people I need to see. I let go and release the thoughts as prayer concerns so I find peace and rest in God.
This practice brought a new meaning of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV). “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
I no longer try to control my thoughts. I turn them over and release them moment by moment in prayer. I focus on the hope that Christ is the Lord of my life. The beautiful truth is, that the more you practice the silence, the less the thoughts invade your mind, and the love of God abides. It just takes time, effort, and practice to accomplish it. Without energy and work, there is no calming of the mind. The goal is to live in the present moment, release my thoughts and care to God, and find perfect peace of mind.
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