Most of us have grown up with the catch phrase ‘you are what you eat’. In essence, to be strong and healthy one needs to eat nutritious food. The concept gained popularity in the 1960’s with macrobiotic whole foods but it can actually be found referenced in writings as early as the 1800’s. It is as true today as it was back then. Much as it pains me to admit, pizza alone won’t keep my body healthy.
Our minds are subject to this same principle. What it consumes greatly influences the state of our mental health. Like a computer- garbage in leads to garbage out. Are you feeding yours good foods, things that are excellent and worthy of praise? Or are you feeding it unhealthy foods, things that are damaging and destructive?
As worshippers we may at times seek to undergo a time of physical fasting, setting aside a time of doing without in order to focus ourselves more deeply on God; perhaps seeking an answer to a specific prayer, or for renewal or awakening. There is a good deal of preparation before a time of fast requiring both mental and physical groundwork for the task ahead. It also necessitates dedication from the start.
There is another, albeit different, type of fast for us to undertake as worshippers. Not a short term fast but one dedicated to a life-long fast of what we feed into our minds. For success it too requires planning and diligence for it goes against our untamed nature. Yet if it is our desire to be like Christ than our every thought should become like His.
Just like the foods we put into our body, the thoughts and images we put into our minds have both immediate and long-term impacts. In His word, God repeatedly counsels us to control our thoughts teaching us to not just occasionally feed into it good foods, but to consistently do so. It is a daily battle, one of the most important we fight as Christians. Controlling what we feed into our minds controls in turn what we feed into our spirit. We are told the truth clearly in Proverbs; what we think is what we become.
There are many harmful foods to eliminate from our mental diets; thoughts of anger, greed, lust, self-pity, apathy, unforgiveness, jealousy, arrogance… the inventory goes on and on. Our task is to take them all captive, with God’s help erasing them from our daily diet. We have partaken of them all but likely we each have ones that we more habitually ingest.
In preparation for a thought fast, prayerfully consider what your most common mental junk foods are. Ask yourself, God and even a spouse or close friend to help reveal them to you. Make a list and plan how you will respond to each when you are tempted to partake of them again. Memorize Bible verses to replace the destructive thoughts with healing ones. Below are a few examples to help you get started.
When someone wrongs you, don’t allow yourself to dwell on the hurt or the offense. Acknowledge the pain or anger you feel to yourself and God and then release it to Him in prayer. He knows what has occurred. Turn your thoughts instead to times He forgave you when you’ve wronged Him and others. Thank Him for His unending forgiveness. Repeat this any time your thoughts stray back to the desire to feed on this unhealthy morsel.
• Bible verse:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
When you are feeling sorry for yourself, realize that your circumstances are temporary. Accept that for now the situation is simply what it is and that for whatever reason God is allowing you to go through this. Turn your attention away from your problems and what you don’t have to the things you do have. Thank God for all that He has blessed you with and trust that He is good. Seek out ways to help others with their needs in any means that you can. As you move your focus away from yourself, it shifts back to God and others where it belongs.
• Bible verse:
Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Remember that everything you have- every possession, every talent, every blessing -was not earned by you but given to you but not because you deserved it. God gave favor to you because He chose to. All that you have could be taken from you in a moment, just as it was with Job. Do not compare yourself to any one other than Jesus. The world may see your outside but God knows the darkest sin of your heart. You are no better than any other sinner in this world. Who you are and what you have does not define you. Whose you are is what gives you worth. Give God thanksgiving for the grace and mercy He has given you.
• Bible Verse:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
Just as diets often come with reference guides to help the dieter know if something is healthy to have or not, there is an easy reference guide for the mental health fast. Simply compare what you are feeding into your mind to the standards of Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
copywrite 2011 Ann Wilds
Father God, help us to be transformed into the likeness of Your precious son through the daily transformation of our minds. By the power of Your holy word, help us to hold each thought captive so that we only feed into our spirit that which is pure, lovely and worthy of praise. May all the we are and ever hope to be bless your name.