1. Test It
In difficult times, we must consider what we’re filling our minds with. It’s important to be informed, prepared, and ready to the best of our human abilities, but we can’t overload with too much negativity or information that incites fear. God is honored when we play our part, but we must allow Him to handle the rest. Nothing surprises Him.
When things go beyond our reach and we feel we’ve lost control, we often let our minds run rampant with fear-filled thoughts and what-if scenarios. Before we know it, our actions are no longer rational.
There’s good news! We have a guide to help us own our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 is a great test as to whether we should think about something. The verse tells us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Consider each word listed below.
True: One of the most important things to consider about our thoughts is, “Are they true?” We need to focus on what is authentic and real.
Noble: Because we are children of God, we’re in the highest of ranks! Our thoughts should be royal and regal. Let’s not allow ourselves to think in an unkind or repulsive manner.
Right: Thinking the right thoughts means allowing accuracy and appropriateness to guide us. We are called to right-living and right-thinking by God’s Word.
Pure: To be pure in heart and thought is not as difficult as it seems. It’s simply choosing to think about good, upright, and honest things.
Lovely: To think lovely thoughts means to see the beauty in life and allow our minds to think upon those things. Let’s look for the good.
Admirable: To be admired is something most people want. But do we want admirable thoughts? Thoughts that are credible and distinguished and allow us to live in such a way that is commendable.
Excellent: The best of the best is what excellent is. When our thoughts are excellent, they are superb, exceptional, and fabulous. Excellent thoughts lead us to live excellent lives.
Worthy of praise: What thoughts are worthy of praise? Thoughts about God. His ways, His plans, and His creation, to name a few. It’s safe to say that when our thoughts are on Him, that’s a good thing.
So, what happens when we test our thoughts with these guides and our circumstances are still bleak? That’s where faith enters. We weren’t created to know the future — that’s God’s job. He sees and knows the future because He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and He’s everywhere all the time. And guess what? He sees you. He’s with you. He’s covering you. Even when you can’t sense it, trust that He is by standing on His truth.
Can we adjust 100% of our thoughts? Probably not. But, in the world of our thoughts, some improvement is better than none. We can begin to win this mental war by owning one thought at a time.
2. Look Up
It’s such a challenge when we find ourselves in a place where we’re bombarded with fear. We want to overcome it, yet we have a hard time doing so. Often, the issue is where we fix our sights. Sadly, we often gaze at our problems and merely glance at God. We need to reverse that. Let’s gaze at our good, mighty, powerful God and simply glance at our problems. Life works better that way.
Hebrews 12 is a great reminder for us. Are we spending our energy focused on the trials and struggles in front of us, or are we focused on the God who is over all of them? Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “keep our eyes on Jesus.” Why? Because He authored our faith and continues to perfect it.
So, to find out where your thoughts are directed, ask yourself these questions:
Is my focus more on God or on daily circumstances?
Do I tend to worry about my struggles instead of trusting in God?
Am I entertaining fear by imagining what-if situations?
Because we’re humans, we’ll still battle with what our flesh desires. And not just that, but our flesh will always drift toward what feels good and what’s easier. It’s easier to let our minds roam toward the unpredictable and uncertainty that life brings. But we can change that.
We need to look up towards Jesus. When we do this, our minds are less likely to stay fixed on the problems below. We won’t grow as weary, which in turn will give us the strength to stay the course. Let’s not give up.
Wherever you are, simply lift your chin up a few inches and allow your eyes to follow. Voice a simple prayer telling God that you’re choosing to trust Him. Repeat this whenever you start to feel flooded with fear.
3. Submit First
Submitting to the Lord is our first line of defense when fear rears its ugly head. And guess who loves it when we live in fear? Our spiritual enemy. Fear is his playground.
Thankfully, we have a plan of attack. God has given us a spiritual dress code in Ephesians 6:10–18. We must be fully equipped with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and a prayerful heart. Once we’re appropriately clothed, we can heed the words of James, the half-brother of Jesus:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NIV
Before we start rebuking or resisting the devil, we must ask ourselves if we’ve fully surrendered and submitted to God. Submitting to God means fully abandoning our lives to Him. With our spiritual armor fully in place and prayer in our hearts, we’re yielding to the One who has the ultimate authority. We’re given the strength to resist the devil when we surrender our entire lives to God. And then guess what happens? The devil flees.
Yet, what we often try to do instead is first resist the devil or rebuke him, when we have yet to really submit to God. Resisting the devil is hard when we haven’t submitted our will, our ways, and our wants to God. Submitting to God is not only the first step, but our submission to God is actually us resisting Satan at the same time.
We have the tools at hand. Let’s take steps toward fully giving our lives to our good God, for when we do, the devil has no power over us.
4. Declare It
Before troubling times come our way, it’s wise to be prepared for our course of action. We can trust God fully even when we don’t see the next step. The best way to come against fear is to speak God’s Word. So, let’s take the following verses and turn them into declarations.
Romans 12:2: 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. (NLT)
Prayer: God, help me not copy the behavior of this world, but to be transformed by Your Holy Spirit renewing my mind. Then, I’ll be able to know Your good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Philippians 4:8: Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. (CSB)
Prayer: God, with Your help, I will think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
2 Corinthians 10:5: 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. (NIV)
Prayer: God, with Your power, I demolish anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and I take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.
Colossians 3:2: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)
Prayer: God, I will set my mind on things above, not on earthly things.
2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. (AMP)
Prayer: God, You didn’t give me a spirit of timidity, cowardice, or fear but one of power, love, sound judgment, and personal discipline.
1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)
Prayer: God, I cast all of my anxiety upon You because You care for me.
Don’t just make these your prayers once — do it throughout the day. Fear doesn’t like to loosen its grip so we have to go into battle for our freedom. Even if you don’t feel like praying these declarations, pray them anyway. You may not feel anything after praying one time. That’s okay. Pray again. And again. And again. We don’t pray only when we feel like it. We just pray.
Consider writing these prayers down or taking a picture of them for your device. That way, they’ll be with you throughout the day.