By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
“Guard your gates.”
This statement has been a practice and mindset in our home ever since my kids were old enough to watch TV. When they were little and something scary or inappropriate came on, I would voice it. Then my kids would close their eyes tight and put their little hands over their ears. I didn’t want negative images or words to influence their minds.
As they got older, that same phrase also encompassed a new aspect about their thought life with the verse, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts,” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT). Our thought life either builds us up or tears us down —in more ways than we ever imagined.
This proverb was written as a reminder that what we dwell on becomes reality. Or a better way of saying it is: out of our hearts flows the wellspring of life or death—depending on what we are focused on. Jesus announced:
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45
What Jesus was saying is that our thoughts create feelings, our feelings create actions or inactions, and those actions or inactions create outcomes or circumstances.
Cultivating a Healing Mindset
Perhaps Christ-followers need the same guidance and structure when it comes to a healing frame of mind. Just like I remind my kids: our thoughts have power. When we turn to the Bible, there seems to be supporting evidence of these thoughts:
...to be made new in the attitude of your minds; – Ephesians 4:23
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6
The Bible is clear, our minds and our thoughts have power.
She is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health. She has helped patients learn how to use their minds to detox, and grow their brains to succeed in every area of their lives, including schools, universities, and workplaces.
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Thoughts Can Aid or Hinder Healing
Consider this, from Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book Who Switched Off My Brain:
“Research shows that around 87% of illnesses can be attributed to our thought life, and approximately 13% to diet, genetics and environment. Studies conclusively link more chronic diseases (also known as lifestyle diseases) to an epidemic of toxic emotions in our culture. These toxic emotions can cause migraines, hypertension, strokes, cancer, skin problems, diabetes, infections, and allergies, just to name a few.”
She found that toxic thoughts such as stress, worry, unforgiveness, and anger actually cause damage to our brains.
When we focus on the negative, chemicals are released in our brains causing damage like loss of sleep, physical illness, or the inability to perform your job appropriately. In other words, when we consciously focus on God’s Word—and guard our minds and thoughts while maintaining an attitude of faith, praise, thanksgiving, and truth—it will aid in healing and victory.
Dr. Leaf also says, “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.”
She isn’t the only doctor exploring healing mindsets. Director Kelly Noonan Gores' Heal documentary is a “scientific and spiritual journey” that explores the impact our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have on our ability to heal. The film reveals our physical health (mental, emotional, and spiritual health included) isn’t only left to chance of our DNA and chromosomes.
Jesus’ Healing Power is Ours
Jesus entered the world to destroy the works of the enemy. Throughout his ministry on earth of “making all things new,” healing was central to his mission because one of the main consequences of the fall was sickness and disease. Even after Jesus left this earth, healing remained a crucial ministry of the Holy Spirit through his disciples.
Does this mean we can say, “Cancer, be gone,” and assume we are healed? No, it doesn't. Nor does it mean we can indiscriminately stop taking our prescribed medications. We can, however, become a part of the healing process by thinking about, “... 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 4:8)
We can declare God’s word over our lives. Each scripture offered here has been turned into a declaration and a prayer. Here are seven biblical affirmations to invite a healing mindset:
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1. “I am healthy in mind and spirit.”
Read: Exodus 23:25
Pray: I serve a mighty God that blesses me and will take away my sickness. He meets all my needs. I am grateful he knows my needs and there is healing happening in my body.
2. “God is healing me.”
Pray: Jesus healed every disease and affliction; I believe he will heal me, too. Father, Your Word has become a part of me. It flows to every cell in my body, restoring and transforming my health. My immune system grows stronger every day. My body grows stronger daily. I speak life to my immune system. Your Word has become flesh; for You sent Your Word, Your Son and healed me.
3. “I am healthy and fit.”
Pray: My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I thank you Father, that spirit your spirit wells in me. Please continue to open my eyes to the choices I am making and continue to guide me to make positive choices so I can fulfill the ministry he has set before me to do. I will be healthy in order to shine a light wherever you send me, at home or in the workplace.
4. “I have a sound mind and my thoughts are under control.”
Pray: I banish all self-doubt from my mind as I embrace hope and my mighty God. He has given me a sound mind and a spirit filled with his power and love. I will not believe the lies of the enemy; I reject any negative thoughts because we demolish every argument or lie that sets itself up against God.
5. “I am loved, valued, and a masterpiece.”
Pray: What a powerful statement that I can say, I am a child of God, chosen before this world was created to do good works for God’s kingdom. God, please continue to remind me and open my eyes to your deep love for me. No matter how I struggle or what issues I am working through, you are still perfecting me day by day. And thank goodness for your rich grace. You are love and although I could never earn it, you pour it out in abundance.
6. “I am good enough, smart enough, and strong enough.”
Read: Psalm 139
Pray: I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am strong, smart, and enough because you, father God, have declared things over me and I will continue to declare your goodness over me, too. When the lies in my life get loud, I will listen for your voice instead. I belong to you and I have a destiny!
7. “God will protect my mind and give me the rest I need.”
Pray: As I lay down my head, I know you help me rest deeply. I thank you, Abba, that you are my protector. You will protect my mind and my thoughts as I drift off to sleep. I put my trust in you, and I know you will give me the sleep I need to be energized for the day tomorrow.
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Heather Riggleman is an author, national speaker, former award-winning journalist and podcast co-host of the Moms Together Podcast. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 21 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and Let’s Talk About Prayer and a contributor to several books. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman, and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.