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Spiritual Life

Are You Winning the Battle of the Mind?

By January 10, 2020 No Comments
winning the battle of the mind
Image by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

“She makes me SO mad!”

“Any time I’m around those kids for more than 5 minutes I can’t help but to lose my patience!”

“He makes me crazy—I’ve gained 10 pounds since the election because of him!”

Do any of these sound familiar? Have you heard others say them? Or, if you’re at all like me, have you heard yourself say something similar—if not out loud, then at least in your thoughts?

What do they all have in common?

Each of them has a lie at its foundation. Each one supports a claim that is entirely false, but which our enemy, the devil, desperately wants us to believe. It is the idea that others, not ourselves, are responsible for our actions and attitudes. It is the idea that we are hapless victims of what happens to us… She makes me mad (I have no say in the matter). He makes me crazy—even makes me gain weight, or lose my patience, etc.—and on and on it goes (all without my consent).

The Field of Battle

Scripture tells us that while “Our war is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12), in God, our weapons are “strong enough, to demolish fortresses, sophistries, and the arrogance that tries to resist the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). And so we are encouraged to “take captive every thought for obedience to Christ” (ibid.). In other words, the spiritual battle nearly always begins in the mind. Why? Because as Proverbs reminds us: “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, we really do become what we think.

Thus, we are directed to “Think on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2), and to “not conform ourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of our mind…” (Romans 12:2). Again and again we are encouraged to “Set our minds on things that are above…”  (Colossians 3:2). St. Paul even sums up his directions for the Christian life with this exhortation: “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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…” (Philippians 4:4–9).

The Truth Will Set You Free

In the book of Romans St. Paul said that “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…” (Romans 8:6). Could the reason we experience so little peace in these troubled times be that we are not fighting, let alone winning, the battle of the mind?

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Romans 12:10). He comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy (John 10:10). And he is the father of all lies (John 8:44). Yet, we are not unaware of his methods (2 Corinthians 2:11). Jesus has not left us as orphans to fight this battle alone (John 14:18, Hebrews 13:5–6, Matthew 28:20).

In fact, he has promised that we can do all things through him (Philippians 4:13). He has given us everything we need for life and godliness in himself (2 Peter 1:3), and has already made us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)!

Yet it is also true that we can’t prevent ourselves from being tempted by false thoughts (1 Peter 5:9). How do we fight—and win—this battle of the mind then?

Best Spiritual Direction Ever

A great Priest shared this tremendously effective method. Whenever you are tempted by a thought that is untrue (in this instance, that someone else is responsible for your actions and attitudes), immediately recognize that temptation, that false thought, as the lie that it is—and follow these steps:

  1. Thank God and your guardian angel for making you aware of the temptation and for reminding you to pray
  2. Repeat the following prayer three times:

God, in the name of Jesus (Matthew 18:18, John 14:13) and by His strength (Philippians 4:13, Ephesians 1:19) I reject this temptation to think (fill in the specific, false-thought here) as coming from the evil one, the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren, with whom I want nothing to do.

  1. After the third time, close with the St. Michael Prayer:

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

The priest who gave this advice said that this is one way we can follow James 4:7: “Submit yourselves to God therefore. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” This simple means of fighting the battle of the mind has proven itself over and over again. It has been tremendously effective in my own life and in the lives of countless students that I’ve been blessed to share it with. It’s also a very practical way to follow St. Paul’s call to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16), since our minds seem to never stop thinking!

This article was originally published by the Center for Advanced Leadership and Catechetics ConsultingIt is republished with permission.

John LaBarbara

John LaBarbara

John LaBarbara is the founding Principal of the Center for Advanced Leadership and Catechetics Consulting (CALC Inc.), which helps apostolates, religious organizations, parishes, and businesses become more unified and effective in fulfilling their mission. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Sacred Scripture and studied New Testament Greek at Fuller Seminary. John has served as the Vice President of Operations for FOCUS, the COO of the Augustine Institute, and the Interim COO for ENDOW and the Catholic Psychotherapy Association. He is also the apologetics editor and a contributor to Didache Bible with Commentaries, and the author of Knowing God’s Love – 8 Essential Truths Every Catholic Should Know. He is an adult convert to the Catholic Church. John is the creator and instructor of the Lay Division's Apologetics for the New Evangelization: Practical Catholicism course.

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