The N’s of the Night
The enemy wants you to think you are the only one who suffers from uncontrolled thoughts. The truth is, everyone suffers. Temptations like this are common. Most everyone has experienced a level of lowness and depression that caused them to struggle with their thought life. Don’t fall for his lies!
Instead of saying, “God, here’s my problem. You would be better to say, “Problem, here’s my God.” God has given us plenty of tools and weapons to defeat the enemy. We just have to learn to wield them! I pray God uses what I have experienced and learned to help you. Don’t stop with only the few verses and ideas I have listed. Take time to study God’s word for yourself. Dig out the promises and truth your soul needs. You’ll be surprised by all God has to say.
God gave us great mental potential. Man has the intellect to invent, learn, explore, and improve his world. Nonsense is an offense to this gift. When the mind has a steady diet of wasteful thinking productivity and healthy living are inhibited. The heart feeds on what it is fed. If we are reading, watching, and listening to quantities of nonsense in our waking hours, it is no wonder our hearts embellish upon these morsels at night. Foolishness in a part of our sinful nature. (bound in the heart of a child - Proverbs 22:15).
God’s word is amazingly clear on this point. Proverbs 24:9 “The thought of foolishness is sin.” That may sound very harsh, but it is a really sound warning. Entertaining wild, ridiculous nonsense is a waste of our God-given intellect, a place for the enemy, and a non-healthy, potentially hazardous exercise of now eternal value.
Further, see Proverbs 22:15, 9:6, Psalms 53:1
The Biblical option is Praiseworthy, meaning of value as opposed to no value. It is one of the topics of though listed in Philippians 4:8 (“if there be any praise”). Of course, the praise if not of self, but of God. Psalms 34:1-5
Biblical Practice for Release
- Learn to recognize foolish thoughts.
When these thoughts are recognized one good method of sorting them is to try to trace back the thoughts to see how this one arrived. Many times, the nonsensical thought came out of a more serious thought, maybe one with no relations to where the mind wound up. Training the mind to recognize nonsense, to be accountable for thought processes, and discerning in what it entertains leads to a healthier thought life.
- See what is feeding it and stop that.
Just as our physical health is bettered by disciplined eating, rest, and exercise, so mental health is benefitted by discipline in the thought life. What are you watching, reading, and listening to? Are you overtired or malnourished?
- Do a Bible study comparing foolish and wise thoughts. A good diet of Proverbs might help here!
- Memorize Scripture to use as weapons in the night. I Cor 13:11 is a good one!
- Exercise self-discipline. When a foolish thought appears, confess it as sin and refuse to dwell on it any longer. Remove yourself of situations or places where foolish thoughts are likely to rise in the day time.
- Seek Christ’s aid. Call upon the Holy Spirit to teach you to discern between foolishness and wisdom.
- If you are still haunted by these thoughts, it is time to call upon a spiritual brother and practice Open Exposure.
Negative phrases pay over and over in the mind hoping to sound enough like truth that the individual will yield to defeat. Living and working from a negative perspective sets life up for many disappointments and difficulties. So, learning to overcome negative thoughts is vital for mental health and a happy life.
Scripture and the Blood of Christ are the most powerful weapons for negativity. Gloom and doom are no match for the promises of Scripture and the blessed hope of the eternal soul. Philippians 4:13, Psalms 40:17, and a host of other Scriptures deal with negative thoughts and attitudes.
The Biblical option is positive or optimistic thinking. Philippians 1:6 – confident – we can be confident that God is work in our life from the moment we are saved to the moment He takes us home. He has a plan, and He never deviates from it. He is never negative! Never pessimistic! Never hopeless!
Biblical Practice for Release
- Use Three Questions
- Where did this thought come from?
- Where will it take me if I believe it?
- How does it compare with Scripture?
- Proverbs 3:5,6 Lean not to your own understanding – trust the Lord!
- Jeremiah 29:1 – God ALWAYS thinks good of and for me.
- Restore your hope – choose to think positively. Sing.
- Write out the negative and write out the positive – it is my choice which one I accept as truth.
My mind says – But God’s Word says – So, I will –
- Call for covering by the Blood
- Invoke Open Exposure
Narrating is an imaginary verbal debate. Rehearsing words as dialogue in our minds to vent our feelings is a bad habit. It sets our hearts on the resentments and builds walls of suspicion and anger. Eventually, it sets us up for those words to come tumbling out when we least expect them. Further, it sets an attitude toward that person or situation that will inhibit the resolution of the problem. We may even come to believe that we are right to blast off at others, or, that we are the victim and should be appeased.
Matthew 12:34-37 are the key verses. “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasures bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
This is a hard verse to accept at face value, for it says that our words come directly from what is in our hearts. There is no grey area, only good or evil. And we will be held accountable for those words. Note: “every idle word.” Wow! So, if we narrate, we need to be using caution! Proverbs 16:27.
The Biblical option is prayer. Philippians 4:6 encourages us to not worry over things but to bring them to the Lord with an attitude of thanksgiving. No amount of our own thinking will ever be as beneficial or powerful as prayer. Taking these things to Him, talking these things over with Him, asking God’s wisdom to be planted in our hearts, all are a more biblical approach to narrating. Instead of talking to yourself, talk to God.
Proverbs 16:6-9 also gives us a remedy to this narrating, a measure by which to judge. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” Stop and listen to yourself. Are your words full of mercy? Are your words truthful? Do your words demonstrate your respect for God and your humility before Him in this situation? Or, are you trying to devise your way without the Lord?
Biblical Practice for Release
- Stop and listen to what you are saying.
- Judge yourself by God’s Word, not your feelings or opinions. Psalm 139:23,24
- Confess your self-righteousness and appeal to God
- Begin to thank God for the situation and believe that He already knows about it.
- Ask the Lord to give you the right heart attitude. Psalm 51:10
- Agree with God that He is all-wise, and you are not. Isaiah 55:8
- Ask the Lord to put protection upon your heart and mind and to remind you to go to Him first. Psalm 119:35 “MAKE me to go in the path of thy commandments…”
- If there is a grievance that needs resolution, follow the Biblical, and go to your brother in love.
- If you cannot resolve the situation personally, cast yourself upon the Lord. Forgive where necessary, and leave the vengeance to the Lord. Romans 12:19
- Call for the Blood of Christ for protection upon your mind.
- Invoke open exposure. Seek out a spiritually mature brother.
Our past is made up of unchangeable facts that make up who we are. These unchangeable facts can become a source of grief for the nightly wanderings of the mind. “If only I had different parents.” “If only I had studied better at school.” Thousands of questions and scenarios play before us as we remember past failures or memories of loved ones long gone.
God has two views on these nostalgic memories. 1) remember them for growth in faith Deuteronomy 8:6-7. Psalms 25:6. And remember them as a warning and for instruction Psalms 25:7, Rev 2:5 then, 2) Leave them and move on Philippians 3:13 and become that new creature. 2 Cor 5:17
Live in the Present. What’s past is past. Live for today. John 9:4 – work while it is day. Jeremiah 29:11 – God gives us an expected end, look forward not back. “Worry looks around, sorrow looks back, but faith looks forward.”
1. Isa 61:3 put on the garment of praise.
2. Move on – Philippians 3:7, 8 count it as finished and nothing as compared to your current relationship with Christ. Philippians 3:13, 14
3. Thank God for who you are now. Psalms 139 and the promise of His working in your life. Live in such a way as to honor your heavenly Father.
4. Seek forgiveness if necessary. Follow biblical methods, which may include Open E Exposure/Matt 18. Know that some hurts may never be rectified. Commit those to God and move on. Ps 37:5, 1 Peter 2:23, 2 Tim 1:12 ff
5. Move to the plain of forgiveness by using the Deck of Cards method (see the video entitled: Things I Am Not Thankful For…Yet)
Nothing should be more alarming to the saint of God than immoral, sexual imaginations. A perfectly innocent dream or thought can turn into a pornographic image and leave the soul disheartened, annoyed, and fearful. Continually entertaining such thoughts will bring shame and fear. It has also been proven that those who indulge in such activities show a weakness in discernment and decision making. It does not bring us to Christ, but leads to greater bondage and eventually to participation. The truth is that we are naked and God sees everything (Hebrews 4:12-13). We need not fear the dark side of our old man; he is not that powerful. He is dead.
We are a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:14, 17, 18, 12 – I choose what I will think about.
Purity. Philippians 4:8, 1 Timothy 5:22, James 3:17, 1 John 3:3
1. Confess it to God and seek his forgiveness. 1 John 3:3
2. Ask the three questions (Where did you come from? Are you true? Where will you take me if I believe you?) and resist the thought!
3. Weigh out what may have fed the imagination. What activities may have prompted the thought?
4. Confess it to God and take a stand in prayer, especially before you sleep. Cover yourself with the Blood of Christ.
5. Open exposure for accountability.
Over and over we rehearse hurts and failures until we are sucked up by the bitterness. The truth is, we are cowards. We do not have the courage to face the situation biblically. We are not righteous but guilty. Guilty of seeking vengeance, of unforgiveness, of being a hypocrite because we do not act as we know we should. Bitterness takes hold and robs us of joy, and it spills over to our family, our decisions, and our tone of voice.
Hebrews 12:15, Luke 2:35
Nurse it and rehearse it or curse it and reverse it!
Pardon. We need to forgive any offending party and lay down our anger and bitterness. Sometimes we may need to assume the guilt, put it on the scape goat and let it go!
1. Matthew 18. If there are offenses that need forgiveness, you are called to forgive and seek forgiveness.
2. If restoration is impossible, then choose to let it go. Do not see revenge.
3. Recognize that your nursing is murmuring and disputing. We are commanded not to do that! Philippians 2:14
4. Confess it as sin and forsake it.
5. Fill in the blank. Lord, I’m tempted to believe ______________. Your word says, ___________. So, I will ______________.
6. Practice reversing the thought. Think good instead of evil
7. Call for the Blood of Christ and seek truth.
8. Open Exposure
The crowd cheers, the awards are given, and the honor is all yours! You stand on your pedestal as others bow before you and sing your praise. You try your best to receive the accolades humbly, all the while your heart is lifted with self-praise. “Finally, people recognize my true worth,” your hearts sings out.
Or, the scene may be different. No crowds cheering; no award is given, at least not to you. You watch, as another is on a pedestal. You are left out seething with envy and jealousy. Your heart tells you that you are being cheated. You deserve to be recognized. After all, you are smarter, better looking, or more important than the current recipient.
What is the heart exercising? Pride. Self-promotion. Oh, within our own hearts, we are dictators and kings. Our wisdom reigns supreme, and no power can stand against us! We actually believe we are great!
Proverbs 16:18, 13:10, 29:23, 16:5, 21:4, and the list can go on and on, especially in the book of Proverbs.
Penitence. A word rarely used today, meaning recognition and sorrow for one’s faults and misdeeds. The proud heart resists saying it is wrong. It fails to see that promotion of self is demotion of God, and that is just what Satan did. God hates pride.
He blesses a contrite heart. Contrite means regret, guilt, apologetic, or remorseful.
1. 1 John 4:7-10 Submit to God and humble yourself. Psalm 136:23, 40:2-4
2. Remember the pit from whence you were dug!
3. Thank God for His mercy toward you. 1 Timothy 1:12-16; Eph 2:1-0
4. Open exposure and accountability. Tell the confidant, “I struggle with pride.” Say it aloud! Ask him/her to listen, and watch, and remind you when they hear or see pride in your life.
5. Memorize scripture. Ps 103:13-18
6. Do a Bible study on pride.
Some people find depression brings on thoughts of counting. They hear numbers as they do things, they catch themselves listing – things to do, hurts they have experienced, words people have spoken, personal failures. It’s like they are memorizing and meditating on them, and the numbers never go away.
Psalm 90:12, Isaiah 28:10 God teaches quite a bit about counting.
Plus. Might sound odd, but instead of counting, start adding! Count your blessings and make those numbers positive. Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”
1. When the numbers start – say them aloud – hearing them will remind you to Stop!
2. When the lists start – take each one through the three questions and resist!
3. Look to see the pattern – what are you doing when this happens? Are you over-tired? Over-worked? Dehydrated? Hungry? Worried? Numerating usually a symptom from something else that is happening.
4. Call for the blood of Christ to protect your mind and count your blessings instead!
Like a song that gets stuck in your head, noisome thoughts are repetitive and confusing. They might not be negative or narrating, but they just play repeatedly and come to no resolution. Sometimes, they come with images that terrify and leave you troubled.
Psalm 94:19, Isaiah 38:14, 57:29, 21, 26:3
Peace. The wandering and raging of noisome thoughts come to peace when our hearts are stayed upon the Lord, and we turn those thoughts to thoughts about the Lord. Noisome thoughts are oppressive, but the Lord will undertake for you. They cast up dirt and mire and take away our peace. But God is our peace. We can find rest in Him.
1. Stop. Stop thinking that thought!
2. Confront it. Go ahead and speak out loud if you need to or write it down on a piece of paper. Then, tell it to stop! You are not going to waste time thinking that thought again because it is foolishness, and foolishness is sin. (Proverbs 24:9)
3. Begin reciting truth about the Lord. If you don’t have any verses memorized, then go to Psalms and begin reading.
4. Ask the Lord to protect your mind by covering you with the Blood of Christ
5. If you have written it down on paper, burn it, or shred it! Silence it!
These are thoughts that keep you from being able to concentrate. They wander uncontrolled and shift according to every circumstance. They create too many avenues and make you unable to make decisions. They camp out in dry places and leave you empty. Nothing good comes from them.
Proverbs 16:3, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 17:24
Purpose. God is a God of purpose. He created us in His image, so we, too, have a need for purpose. When nomadic thoughts take us on a desert journey, we lose that purpose.
1. Write down a few simple goals. It can be as simple as eating three meals per day and making your bed. Use these and build from there to put structure into your life.
2. Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is often too strenuous for a depressed person.
3. Learn to say “no” when necessary. Putting too many things on your list only creates more nomadic thoughts as you wonder how you will get everything done.
4. Commit these goals to the Lord. By prayer, ask the Lord to direct your thoughts to the solutions and ideas you need to accomplish your goals.
5. Celebrate your accomplishments by ticking them off your list, putting stars beside them, or even sharing your victories with a trusted friend.
6. Keep your eyes looking forward – don’t look around at all the things that are undone or the things that distract you.
7. Listen to the Lord’s voice – Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.” He will direct your steps!
Neglectful thoughts tell us to ignore our responsibilities. They create excuses for our laziness, procrastination, and irresponsibility. The most common excuse is, “I didn’t feel like it.” When things do catch up with us, we are not prepared and feel like a failure. It’s a vicious downward spiral when we allow neglectful thoughts to guide our lives.
Colossians 3:23, Luke 16:10, Romans 14:12
Pro-active The whole idea behind winning over neglectful thoughts is to stay one step ahead. To learn to think about what needs to be done each day and not allow excuses to keep us from putting things off or failing in our responsibilities. To be pro-active means we learn to plan our day, set goals, and accomplish things that help us meet our responsibilities. Being pro-active builds hope for us and those around us. Every success is another step toward healing.
1. Get with your prayer partner and talk about the excuses you hear telling you to put things off or that you can’t get things done.
2. Make a plan. Start with small goals you can accomplish and build from there.
3. When you “don’t feel like it,” look to see what you are trying to avoid. Maybe it is fear. Maybe it is an uncomfortable situation. Maybe you are avoiding criticism. There is usually more of a reason than just feelings. If you can pinpoint the issue, you can deal with it more directly.
4. Learn to push through “I don’t feel like it.” You might not feel like washing the dishes but wash them anyway. You might not feel like making your bed but make it anyway. Every time you push through your feelings, you will gain strength. Every time you yield, your feelings gain ground.
5. Take time of an evening or first thing in the morning to think through your day. What needs to be accomplished? Be pro-active by anticipating your neglectful thoughts before they have a chance to start talking!
6. Whatever you accomplish each day, do it as unto the Lord. He is the one who will reward you! Colossians 3:23, 24
Nagging thoughts are the ones that push and push reminding us of things left undone, failures, and places where we have let other people down. They grumble and grimace in the background always trying to assault our gains.
Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 27:15-16, Colossians 3:22-24
Promoting. To put a nagging thought to rest, you need to have completed it. So, if you have completed a goal, accomplished a task, fulfilled a responsibility, or had a spiritual victory, you can promote yourself! Promoting is not bragging, but it is that sense of accomplishment and self-worth that comes from a job well done. These accomplishments might seem small, but each one is another step forward!
1. Nagging thoughts need to go through the three questions – Where did you come from? Are you true? Where will you take me if I believe you? Most of them can be invalidated by this process.
2. If they continue, consider what you may have left undone or what the Lord might be prompting you to do. It might be to ask forgiveness, or to do a kindness, or to make a phone call. Obey.
3. False guilt is behind the nagging thoughts most usually. Nagging thoughts like to create their importance when really, they are just pushing us around. If you are guilty, then take care of it, and the thought will stop.
4. Take yourself to Psalm 139:23, 24, and ask the Lord to show you if there is anything you need to do. Then, let Him lead you.
5. If they continue, by faith, ask for the covering of the Blood of Christ upon your mind.