Change Your Thinking Patterns

(By Sarah Hancock, adapted from Speak Truth in Your Heart)


A girl once shared with me that anytime she felt like a failure, she would begin to doubt God’s love for her. She knew that the Bible says God’s love is unconditional, yet she had a hard time actually believing this applied to her. Every time she messed up, her mind would take her to the same place: God doesn’t love me. It was a thinking pattern that had developed.


Do you have any ungodly or untrue thinking patterns that plague you? It could be thoughts of fear, blame, comparison, lust, jealousy, anxiety, or despair. It could be a negative way of thinking about a specific person who irritates you. It could be a lie you are believing about God or about yourself.


If we’re honest, I think we all struggle with these kinds of unbiblical thinking patterns. Some of them may have started when we were children. It is where our thoughts tend to go because of the pattern that we have developed.

It’s actually very interesting to study how our brains create connections called neural pathways. When we learn a new skill, such as tennis, playing the violin, or skiing, we call our progress “muscle memory.” Actually, it is not the muscles that learn, but the brain. Through repetition (as you practice the skill again and again), the brain is developing stronger connections between neurons and forming new neural pathways.


We could think of it as a path. If you walk on the same little foot path over and over, pretty soon it becomes a trail, then a road. The same thing happens in our brain.


Just like neural pathways are formed when learning a new skill, so also neural pathways are formed by the thoughts we think. If, for instance, we repeatedly think thoughts of blame or worry, it’s like taking the same path over and over. The more we think those thoughts, the more the brain will strengthen that pathway. Before we know it, it is a habit in our thinking.


In other words, our brains are actually changing based on what we think about most. At first this might sound discouraging, but it’s actually good news! It means we can change our thinking patterns. We don’t have to continue down these negative paths that trouble us. As we apply ourselves to changing our thoughts and replacing lies with truth, we can actually retrain our brain. We can develop new thinking patterns that build us up rather than tear us down.


There is more good news. While thinking our own positive thoughts may be helpful to a point, what is far more powerful is to think God’s thoughts, as found in His Word. The point is not simply that we are choosing to think positively instead of negatively. It’s that we’re speaking God’s Word to ourselves. That is one of the reasons that Scripture memorization is so important. When we memorize Scripture and quote it to ourselves throughout the day, we are forming new neural pathways. The more we think about Scripture, the more rooted it will be in our hearts and minds.


Can you identify a specific thinking pattern that you know the Lord wants you to change? Start by choosing one verse that combats the wrong thought and memorize it. Think about what it means and quote it to yourself throughout the day. Pray it to the Lord, quote it when you are tempted to start down a wrong path in your thinking, sing it to the Lord, and speak it out loud to others. As you abide in God’s Word, you will find that your mind will be renewed, and His truth will begin to impact your emotions, words, and actions as well (Rom. 12:1-2).


“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly!” (Col. 3:16).


“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).


This article was written in our May 2024 newsletter.  You can sign up for the monthly newsletters here