Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2 NLT
After graduating college, I got my first job and found out I would need to move to a new city.
New starts can certainly be exciting, but I was apprehensive. I had lived in the same place for years. I was deeply attached to the city and the memories I had built there. It was home to me, and I couldn’t imagine feeling the same way anywhere else.
I settled into my new home and began to adjust and get to know the people and places. To my surprise, I grew to love and appreciate it in so many new ways.
That experience taught me to change the way I think. I learned that “home” was more than a place; it was the people I spent time with and the memories I made. Changing the way I thought helped me feel happier and more secure in my new situation.
Changing the way we think is powerful, and I’ve found that I need to apply this same concept to my relationship with God. I grew up thinking that if I read the Bible, pray, and go to church regularly, then I must have a good relationship with God.
But those are outward behaviors — good and important outward behaviors, but outward behaviors nonetheless. And they can easily turn into the components of an empty checklist instead of a deep and personal relationship with God.
Romans 12 tells me that my relationship with God should go deeper; it should transform me into a new person by changing the way I think. And Psalm 139 tells me how God thinks about our relationship:
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
Psalm 139:17-18 NLT
God thinks about us constantly. He doesn’t view our relationship with him like a checklist. He continues to think about us, care about us, and be interested in us all the time. Could we say we think about him the same way?
What do your thoughts reveal about your relationship with God? How often do you think about God throughout your day? How can you increase the amount you think about God each day?
In this study, we’ll look at each of these questions and give scriptures and practical decisions we can make to change our relationship with God by changing the way we think.
What do your thoughts reveal about your relationship with God?
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 NLT
This scripture describes how God wants us to think. He wants us to consider whether the things that come out of our mouth and the things inside our hearts are pleasing to him.
In other words, our thoughts matter. Do you reflect on whether the things in your heart and mind are pleasing to God? Instead of dwelling on sin, unbelief, or emotions, we can strive to please God by thinking about what’s good and right.
One of the things that the Bible tells us is pleasing to God is faith (Hebrews 11:6). So a mind full of unbelieving, fearful, and doubtful thoughts can’t be pleasing to God.
Pause and reflect
- Do you think the “meditation of your heart” is pleasing to God? Or do you meditate on your emotions, fears, sin, or the desire for other things?
- What would it look like to think about God and meditate on spiritual things?
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:97 ESV
One way to change the way we think is to meditate on the Scriptures. The book of Psalms shows many examples of people who loved the Bible, desired God’s words, and thirsted for God’s presence more than anything else. They demonstrate the kind of heart we should strive to have and the way we should feel about God.
When you really love something you want to think about it all the time. I remember when I first started dating my now husband. I looked forward to talking on the phone, receiving text messages during the workday, and spending time together on the weekends. It was never something that I felt like I had to do because I loved him.
It’s the same with God. When we love God, we think about him and look to the Scriptures for love, comfort, perspective, insight, and wisdom.
Pause and reflect
- What’s your attitude toward reading and meditating on the Bible? Do you love reading it and holding on to Scriptures throughout the day?
- What makes it challenging to have this kind of heart condition?
- Write down or pray about some of the unbelieving or fearful thoughts you’ve had recently. Find a Scripture to meditate on whenever you feel tempted to get fearful or let doubt fill your mind.
How often do you think about God when you’re stressed?
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Psalm 10:4 NIV
When we don’t think much about God, it reveals pride and self-reliance in our heart. A humble person feels their need for God. They make room to think about God and be connected to God.
Pride, on the other hand, gives us an exaggerated sense of our own abilities. We try to do things on our own that are beyond us and we don’t ask for help.
When I feel anxious, I often try to push through and figure things out instead of going to God in prayer or holding on to a scripture. My pride makes me believe I can handle everything myself, even though I really can’t.
I usually end up more anxious and irritable because I’m not willing to be humble and ask God for help.
In your day-to-day life, how much do you actually slow down and think about God? Are you quick to make decisions or do you think about what God would want? Do you react to others’ emotions or do you respond with patience and look for spiritual understanding? When you’re anxious, do you pray or do you try to take control?
God promises that he can soothe our busy minds, providing the calm we’re really looking for:
Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.
Psalm 94:19 TPT
Pause and reflect
- What takes up the most space in your thoughts? (some examples might be anxiety, guilt, people focus, self-focus, etc)
- How does your pride stop you from connecting with God or others, especially when you feel stressed or anxious?
How can you increase the amount you think about God on a daily basis?
Once we are aware of what we’ve been thinking about most, we can make a conscious effort to give God more space in our minds.
21 Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. 23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.
Proverbs 6:21-23 NIV
This scripture tells us to bind or fasten God’s Word to our heart and around our neck. This doesn’t necessarily mean literally tying a scripture around our neck, but rather coming up with ways to hold onto scriptures and connect with God so that everywhere we go and in every part of our day, we are in tune with God and allowing him to guide us.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV
Practically, we can change our thoughts by taking them captive and choosing to think the way Jesus would think instead. For example, if you have a thought where you envy someone else, you can notice the thought and make a conscious effort to think about what would make God happy. That might mean choosing to appreciate and be happy for the other person and their success, and remembering to be grateful for your own life.
This is just one example, but there are many ways to make our thoughts obedient to Christ. Some other things that have been helpful for me to change my thinking are to have a list of scriptures on my phone to refer to when my thoughts are running in a negative direction, or praying about my needs to ask God for help, or deciding to be grateful by thinking about all the good God has done.
Pause and reflect
- In what area(s) of your life is God calling you to change your way of thinking?
- What would it look like for you to take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to Christ?
- Make a notecard or list of scriptures on a topic you need God’s help in.
- Set aside time to meditate on God or Scripture.
- Pray about your needs and make decisions to be grateful for God.
The exciting thing about thinking more about God is that we can grow in our spirituality. We won’t have to rely on ourselves or others for confidence and security. When we think about God every day, we get in step with him and become more aware of all the ways he is working in our life.
If you’d like to further study this topic, here are some suggestions below:
- Read Psalm 119 and Psalm 139.
- Read about David in the Bible and learn from the ways he thought about God.
- Read Deep Spirituality devotional “13 Questions That Will Transform Your Friendship With God.”