It is not easy to prepare a heart that is not at rest.
Today I had a mind that was whirling around and around starting the moment I woke up. My mind began racing – what to do first? It was like what some refer to as a monkey mind. It was jumping from possibility to possibility very fast.
It took me several minutes to calm it down before I could pray and listen.
Then right before I left for work, I had a brief argument at home that TICKED me off.
I walk to work and it takes 10 minutes. I kept trying to shake off my negative mood but I could not on my walk.
And at 30 minutes after the argument I was still grumbling to myself.
Minds experiencing frantic activity, anger, grief, depression, anxiety, stress…these minds are not in a place that can readily work on preparing one’s heart for God, for worship, for prayer, for communication with the Holy Spirit.
Truly it is much easier if we daily work on preparing our hearts. Then it is a habit that we can slide into. Maybe we have a prayer closet, or a special chair where we do devotions daily. A unique area for our time with God can help prepare our minds and sooth our souls.
In this post we are going to look at why we should prepare our hearts & how to do that. I am going to address helpful techniques that can quiet our minds. They are not new necessarily but if you cannot disengage your mind to be able to prepare your heart—then you probably need a refresher to practice.
Why? Why do we prepare or hearts?
Job 11:13-19 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 “If only you would prepare your heart
and lift up your hands to him in prayer!
14 Get rid of your sins,
and leave all iniquity behind you.
15 Then your face will brighten with innocence.
You will be strong and free of fear.
16 You will forget your misery;
it will be like water flowing away.
17 Your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Even darkness will be as bright as morning.
18 Having hope will give you courage.
You will be protected and will rest in safety.
19 You will lie down unafraid,
and many will look to you for help.
The statements of promise, when we prepare our hearts, are:
Your face will brighten with innocence
You will be strong and free of fear
You will forget your misery
Your life will be brighter than noonday
Even darkness will be bright as morning
Having hope will give you courage
You will be protected and will rest in safety
You will lie down unafraid
Many will look to you for help.
Those are some great promises of a prepared heart.
By preparing our hearts — our hearts become at rest, rest in the Lord. We are able to commune with our Father. We are in a place to receive blessings of all kinds, and mostly in our spirit.
You cannot prepare your heart all on your own.
Psalm 10:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear
God will prepare your heart. But sometimes your life and your moods keep you from being in-tune with the truth of the state of your (already God ordained) prepared heart.
You cannot just sit back though and say give me, fix me, do it for me. It is in our maturity that we do our part.
First, this verse states that we keep a humble heart and sense of self. This should be easy if we keep in mind all that GOD HAS DONE FOR US.
God has opened doors for you. God has protected you. God had kept harmful doors closed to you. God has given you moments of true joy. Every good thing, person, and opportunity in your life is from God.
With that in mind, with our proper perspective, it is easy to stay humble.
When we are humble we are in the right place to say “Lord prepare my heart to worship you. Prepare my heart to put my trust in you. Prepare my heart to experience joy in spite of things that go wrong. Prepare my heart to submit to your plans for my life.”
We prepare our hearts by making room for Jesus in our lives.
Making room in our lives means a lot of room. 5 minute prayers before a meal and sleep is not making room. Christ wants our whole lives. Jesus wants to accomplish specifics within your life.
Do you talk to God?
Do you spend time outside of church in praise of our creator?
Do you listen for, and hear, God’s still small voice in every area of your life? Have you even consulted Christ on every area of your life?
Do you study and meditate on God’s word on your own time?
Have you ever even tried to fast and seek God by giving up time spent on eating or napping or Netflix?
Do you cleanse your heart of your sin by sincerely repenting?
These are all ways to prepare our hearts.
But what if your mind can’t get there? What if you are caught up in anxiety, depression, grief, anger or stress?
Then to prepare our hearts we need to get control of our heads and emotions.
Take a breath…or several: When you are”off ” mentally or emotionally your breathing changes. It can become shallow and quick. Take a breath in –as you count to 2. Then hold it while you count to 3. Then exhale while you count to 4. (You can also count one 1,000; two 1,000 etc). Repeat this until your mind quiets down.
Accept your mood is where you currently are:Trying to fight your mood will increase anxiety and self-intolerance…neither are helpful towards getting you ready to prepare your heart. Don’t force a fake mood; but don’t use it as an excuse not to move forward and try. Just be willing to work towards a better head space.
Question your thoughts by asking: Is this thought really true? Is this likely to happen? What options do I have?
Stay out of the trap of predicting the future:The absolute truth is that very few people have the gift of foreseeing the future. So by odds, you are not one of those people. You do not know for certain what is going to happen…so things could go more than one way. We have choices on the views we take and the things we tell ourselves:
“This grief is going to kill me.” OR “I will be stronger on the other side and cherish fond memories.”
“My life is never going to get any better.” OR “I haven‘t always been this low, so it is highly likely that this to will pass and things will get better.”
“I’m so far behind! When will I ever catch up?!! I’ve got to do more- faster-longer-harder or I’ll be a failure. ” OR “Hey, if I take a few moments to focus, in a relaxed state, I can take a healthy assessment of where I’m at, what needs to be done, what I can delegate, what can wait.”
Stay in the present moment. Do not live in the past of even 5 minutes ago. Give it to God. Give him your future as well. And while you’re at it give him every circumstance and person in your life. Just hand it over for a half hour. If it goes well, let him keep your concerns for you.
Get outside yourself: go for a walk, do something creative, call someone and only ask about his or her life, visualize a nice vacation, watch a YouTube video. Take 20 minutes to clear your head. If you can mediate great! I personally find meditation impossible until I have already calmed my mind. But do what works for you.
And finally what worked for me today…write a positive list: pull up, online, a list of positive emotions. ANY that you slightly might feel- -write them down.
If you can’t believe ” I am loved ” write ” I am loved by God”. If you are smart, say so. If you are kind, say that. Try to come up with as many as possible. When you are deeply depressed, I want you to TRY to find 5 positives. If you are stumped after 3 ..be proud of 3, and hang onto the list.
When a mind isn’t at rest we can still cry out to God. We may be unable to do much until or minds get straight. We can call out to God to prepare our hearts to be prepared. We can call out and ask for immediate help with our mood and state of mind.
Knowing that GOD is for us, we do our part to calm ourselves and bring us into a place where we can once again work on preparing our hearts.
Until Next Time~