Subjecting your Thoughts to the Presence of P.A.P.A.

Some of my thoughts would scare you.

If my thoughts were paraded across a silver screen then you would be aghast. Thoughts of love, pain, anger, lust, depression all dance across the screen of the mind.

A couple of posts ago I talked about lassoing those varmint thoughts. Grabbing hold of them and tying the suckers down. Often this needs to be done in a place of silence and quietness.

So we have these thoughts captured on paper. What is the next step?

Paul tells us that we are to make every thought obey Christ.

We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Other translations put verse 5 in this way.

We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ NLT
taking every thought captive in order to obey the Messiah. ISV
and we carry off every thought as if into slavery–into subjection to Christ Weymouth New Testament

fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. The Message

It is like we have these thoughts captured and tied up, at the point of a spear and bring them struggling like prisoners to feet of Jesus. We tell them ‘you are going to do what Jesus tells you, Jesus is my King and everything in my life, including my thoughts, are subject to him, you will obey’

They try and wriggle away to control your life but you continue to bring them back to sit in submission to Jesus.

Many try and make their thoughts complaint to logic, reason, Buddhism, the latest pop psychology, the latest self help guru etc. I choose to bring my thoughts under the subjugation of Christ.

How do we take these thoughts and see them submit and change to being what Christ would have us think?

One way I have used for many years is to use a prayer process called the P.A.P.A prayer developed by Dr. Larry Crabb. Here is an excerpt from his book.

Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.

Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.

Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God
– Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.

Approach God as the “first thing” in your life
– Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best.

A four-day plan that takes you through this process can be downloaded from here.

Try it and let me know how you find it.
Barry Pearman
Image by Martin Gommel Creative Commons Flickr