You formed me with an amazing brain that can communicate with You, think rationally, create things, make decisions, and much more.”
–Jesus Listens, February 12
Your brain is a powerful place.
It’s the command center of all that you think, feel, and do. That means all of the functions of your emotions, desires, perceptions, ideas, and memories take place inside your brain, which contains about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion interconnections.
Did you know the way you think constructs neural pathways in your brain? You can compare this pathway creation process to the way a semitruck makes deep tread marks in packed snow. These deeply-embedded thoughts produce your feelings, both good and bad. If you spend a lot of time worrying or feeling angry or fearful, then your brain builds neural pathways from these habitual negative thoughts, continually returning to the deep tread marks and allowing them to grow even deeper.
Eventually your brain may deceive you into believing that your persistent negative thoughts are normal. Worry and a bad temper may grow to seem natural to you, but each worry makes room for even more worry, and anger multiplies anger. The same holds true for all negative thoughts. These negative neural pathways diminish your brain’s ability and power to think and reason clearly.
God created your brain to serve Him, just as He created your heart to love Him. And over the years, I’ve found there are four spiritual tools to help build your brain power:
Your brain needs rest and relief from the constant clutter of your mind. God says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 KJV). This doesn’t mean that you need to stop moving entirely. Instead, God speaks of inner stillness. Your brain craves inner stillness, which opens your heart to know and commune with Him.
To know inner stillness, we begin by creating outer stillness. The best way to do this is to set
aside time every day to quiet your mind and body. Start by designating a quiet space free of noise, interruptions, and distractions. Twenty minutes of stillness twice a day is optimal.
When you breathe deeply and gently, your brain then receives relief from the continual, unruly thoughts in your mind—and you also open a way for the Holy Spirit to move more freely in you. Ephesians 3:16 describes this as becoming strengthened “with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (NIV)
Identify your feelings as what they are: feelings. Your negative thoughts and painful feelings are not who you are; you are merely an observer of them. Thoughts precede what you do, but they do not define you. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 promises, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
As 1 John 4:8 tell us, “God is love.” And love and compassion are God’s very essence.
Embracing love and compassion will transform both your outer and inner lives and bring the greatest amount of power to your brain and its neurons. His presence is so desperately needed in our world, and practicing love and compassion brings Him into living reality, as it’s the expression of God’s love inside you.
These four life-transforming spiritual tools are critical to empowering your brain, and it all begins with stillness.
About the Author
Marie Chapian, PhD, is the author of over thirty books and a Pulitzer Prize nominee. Chapian teaches and guides groups in quiet prayer meditation and is the guiding voice of the Quiet Prayer daily podcast. She has spent over ten years researching prayer, traveling to monasteries for long silent prayer retreats, and developing her own daily practice. Her latest book is Quiet Prayer: 31 Days of Meditation for Women.