Unruly Minds


We were together in a retreat setting when we talked about the art of meditating. That discussion led us to talk about how our minds work. I shared a modest challenge to those present. Here was the challenge: we lay down our heads that night and recite the Apostles Creed, but in such a way that our thoughts would never wander as we recited the twelve articles. As it was, I actually promised them a million dollars if they could report the next morning that they had been completely successful...

And indeed none of us could report the next morning that we had passed the test. And so, no money changed hands.

I still struggle with my unruly mind in my thought-life, and even my prayer-life. When prayers are said in the church services, or the Bible is read, I do the test again: follow the spoken words with my heart and mind and do not allow my thoughts to wander off. I still have not passed the test; to some degree my mind wanders. I do not imply that I am not blessed with the congregational prayers and readings. I am blessed in spite of my unruly mind.

It is not only during prayer time that I struggle with my unruly mind. When I talk with people my mind is mostly on more than one track too. My mind is part of a whole little world inside of me and it’s a busy world. You can probably relate to such experiences. 

Is there something we can do about it? Can we learn techniques by which we can reign in our wandering thoughts and feelings and gain in peace? And can we then pray with a more attentive mind and heart? 

Perhaps we can share experiences and advice via this blog. 

In the meantime, I can come to a modicum of inner peace and quietness. I can focus on the Lord Jesus seated next to the Father, and address words to Him—words of thankfulness, words of praise, and words of petition. I will not punish myself when I don’t succeed. Instead, I will plead with the Spirit to come to my rescue. And I need not remind Him of His promise.

Pondering on that some more, I now realize that there advantages of having a multi-track mind: it will enable me to think of the needs of many people I know, many situations around me, and many challenges in the Kingdom, all of which enrich my prayer life. As believers we can’t really lose…

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