I once talked with a woman who said she tried very hard to think only positive thoughts, but she was never able to keep it up for long. Even when she managed to appear optimistic, inwardly she was often in turmoil. Her self-help approach to positive thinking excluded God, so when things went wrong, she didn’t have anything solid to hold on to.
That may seem paradoxical—faith in God being something substantial—but it’s true. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”1 In the face of difficulty and disappointment, faith is far more effective than mere mental exercises, because it is backed by promises that God has made in His Word—promises that bring about tangible results when believed and applied to real-life situations.
These promises not only have the power to change problem situations; they also have the power to change us. The Bible tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”2 It is through those “exceedingly great and precious promises” that we “may be partakers of the divine nature.”3
We can, by an act of our will, take our mind off of negative thoughts. Unless we fill that void, however, the negative thoughts will rush back in. What should we replace those negative thoughts with? What is more positive or more powerful than the living Word of the living God? When coupled with prayer, the uplifting, transforming Word of God can give you victory over every ugly, negative thought and its consequences.
As you make a consistent effort to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts from God’s Word, it will become a habit; you will learn to—as the Bible puts it—“bring your thoughts into captivity.”4
This is very difficult to accomplish in the tumult of the world. We don’t find the mind of God on the streets of social life or in the hobby shop. To connect with Him, find a place where there are no distractions. “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”5
There is no place where the mind can be as fully renewed as in the secret place of prayer, alone with God. When we come away from the temporal things that distract and harass us, and we focus on the presence of God and put our mind on the things of God, the transforming power of God then begins to work in us, and we are changed, renewed.