I once heard it remarked that there are certain types of individuals who seem virtually unaffected by trials. It has been suggested that it’s not because discouragement doesn’t indeed come their way, but rather because such people simply refuse to take delivery. In James 4:7, God instructs us to submit ourselves to Him and “Resist the devil,…….” (NIV). I always believed that this verse of scripture was only meant to reference a temptation to physical sin, however; I recently had occasion to experience this teaching in a way that was completely new to me.
A while back, due to sudden family emergency, prayer links in our homes and churches were alerted to the desperation of a certain problem. Now, in the past, I often found myself having faith enough in God’s power, but somewhat questioning His exact will in different situations. As a result of this confusion, the enemy would always bombard my mind with negative thoughts, telling me that extremely desperate circumstances were themselves likely indicators that God’s will was preordered and therefore sometimes not subject to change through prayer. Additionally, the enemy would fill me with pessimism, warning me to prepare myself for the revelation of bad news at any moment.
In this prayer situation, almost immediately the negative thoughts began to flood my thinking and taint my prayers. When the phone would ring, my imagination would forecast the worst, and the desperation of the situation began to loom insurmountable when combined with the passing of precious, time. Our merciful God, knowing the weight of our family concern, provided me with a blessed moment of needed revelation that changed my whole perspective of James 4:7. He reminded me that I was responsible for what types of thoughts I entertained. The old teaching, “garbage in, __ garbage out” accented how I was allowing “junk” thinking to affect both my faith and my attitude. God told me to give no place to Satan’s lies, and instead throw all those negative thoughts right back in his face. Oh, the enemy was going to send me those negatives, but all I had to do was to refuse delivery,__ “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)
Our human minds are primary battlegrounds for the spiritual warfare all around us (see – Ephesians 6:12). What we allow into our minds affects both our physical attitudes and our spiritual faith (see – James 1:6-8). If we fill our minds with doubt, anger, bitterness, lust or foreboding, we can expect those elements to weaken our faith and hinder our prayer efforts. However, if we allow positive thoughts to fill our minds, we will grow stronger in faith and project the power of Christ into every situation (see – Philippians 4:8).
The difference between the world’s positive thinkers and the Christian mindset is in the focus. The world will tell us to look to ourselves, our own strengths and attributes, it will tell us to “zero in” on success and material gain (see – Luke 12:15). Indeed, there are multitudes of psychiatrists, psychologists, gurus and therapists with programs and devices intended to unlock our own potentials and help us live strong lives, but only godly thinking can truly free our minds to conform to the principle of faith. God tells us in Psalm 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (NIV), if we fill our minds with the things and thoughts of God and refuse to entertain negatives to our faith, we will be shaping our minds for the eternal, and truly living this life to its fullest as intended by God (see – John 10:10).
I learned much from this practical application of godly positive-thinking, at last seeing how the enemy had (for years) been attacking my mind with negatives. He had tempted me into considering that prayer was itself weak and ineffective against the weight of desperate circumstance (contrary to James 5:16b), and that God’s will was set by those circumstances, not always moved by the prayers of His people (contrary to Matthew 21:22). I’ve at last come to realize that the tempter is always going to broadcast such negatives against prayer in every circumstance, because only through the tact of shaking a Christian’s faith and introducing doubt can he hope to hinder the miraculous power of prayer.
Now when I pray, I indeed expect those negatives to come, “special delivery” right to my door,__ but you know what? I welcome the opportunity to kick them right off the porch,__ I just say: “Satan, you’re a liar, and I refuse to give your lies place in my mind!”. I get a spiritual strengthening every time I throw those negative thoughts back in the enemy’s face. Oh yeah, he will always send them, but needless to say, this ole boy is henceforth resolved to refuse delivery. How about you?