The Spiritual Discipline of Preaching the Truth to Yourself

Do you realize that you are constantly talking to yourself? As in – ALL.THE.TIME!

Research varies widely. However, studies indicate that our inner dialog consists of somewhere between 150 and1,300 words a minute. Yes. That is a huge range, but either way it results in a lot of dialogue. Do the calculations, and it turns out that we are speaking to our own soul between 47,000 and 51,000 sentences a day!

Now, before you become alarmed, understand that most of our inner dialogue is neutral in their nature. “Oh, I’m really not ready to crawl out of bed just yet.” “Where did I put my keys?” “I can’t forget to pick the kids up from piano at four.” “What am I going to fix for dinner?” 

However, there is a portion of our inner dialogue that is NOT neutral. It is, in fact, destructive. Destructive dialogue is not at all helpful. It does not nourish our soul. Nor does it aid in our spiritual growth.

Far from being neutral, destructive inner dialogue is harmful. It is not truth. It speaks lies to our soul. Lies we will come to believe if we put nothing into place that helps to guard our minds and our hearts.

Preaching the Truth to Ourselves is the daily habit of rehearsing the truths of God’s Word. Done each morning and frequently throughout the day, this practice serves to remind us of the importance and power of the Gospel.

When employed, this Spiritual Discipline moves us from listening to talking. And it’s not just any talk. When we Preach the Truth to Ourselves, we let go of the lies Satan and the world are filling our minds with. We, with great intentionality, speak truth into our being.

This work of Preaching the Truth to Ourselves is both a preemptive and a responsive work. 

Preaching to ourselves feeds our soul. It helps to properly fix our focus and equips us for battle.  We do this by beginning our day in the Bible, revisiting it several times throughout the day, and engaging in Gospel-saturating activities on a daily basis. 

The practice of responsively Preaching the Truth to Ourselves helps to keep us from being mangled and torn when the bumps of life hit. And we all know they will! When disappointments and hard circumstances hit, this Discipline helps us not be swallowed up in listening to the unhealthy, destructive self-talk that inevitably ensues. Instead, it helps us learn to recognize the unhealthy lies and respond immediately with the truth of God’s Word.

There are many examples of people Preaching the Truth to Themselves in the Bible. Let’s take a quick peek at two.

I encourage you to read Psalm 73 in the next day or two so that you can see this Discipline in action.

In this Psalm, Asaph is wrestling with two very conflicting things – what he sees in the world and what he believes. In his ponderings, things are not lining up, and this almost ruins him. Despite his good theology, he struggles.

In this chapter, we pick up on Asaph’s temptation to listen to himself. “God isn’t there. God doesn’t love you….”

But continue reading and notice what he does. Asaph looks to God (Psalm 73:16). He addresses himself (Psalm 73:21). And then, he sets his hope on the Gospel (Psalm 73:23).

In other words, Asaph stopped listening to himself, focused on God, and began talking. He Preached the Truth to Himself.

When we’re at the intersection of the God’s truth (His promises) and the details of our situation, what we do with our mind is extremely important – just as Asaph modeled.

At this intersection, God will never ask us to deny reality. Think about Abraham. What’s the one big seemingly impossible promise God made to Abraham?

Crazy, huh? Having a baby in one’s old age! Abraham believed the promise, but the Bible tells us that he did not deny reality. Romans 4:19 says, “He considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), [and] he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.” Faith doesn’t deny reality. Faith is a God-focused way of considering reality.

But Abraham’s example doesn’t stop there. The passage tells us more. Romans 4:20-21 tells us what Abraham did with his meditation. He didn’t invest himself in turning his unbelievable circumstances inside out and over and over. No, he considered his circumstances, but he meditated on God. And as he meditated on God, he grew stronger in faith, even though nothing in his circumstances had yet changed.

The Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus modeling this Spiritual Discipline. How many times during His earthly ministry was He confronted with the lies of Satan and the world around Him? Yet, in each and every instance, we see Him speaking truth into the situation.

One of the most powerful examples I can think of is the night of His betrayal (Matthew 26:36-56). In the face of what Jesus knew lay ahead of Him, in the worst of all circumstances, He prayed. Rather than allowing the perils and suffering of His situation to consume Him, He Preached Truth to Himself as He talked with His Father.

Why is this Spiritual Discipline important? Because we are:

  • So easily distracted.
  • Prone to losing focus.
  • In need of continual reminders that the Gospel is of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3).
  • Given to making comparisons.
  • Pros at throwing the grandest of pity parties.
  • Commanded to discipline our mind, to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Preaching the Truth to Ourselves is essentially the biblical call to “meditate” on Scripture. We are to hear and to reflect on the Word and on how God is speaking through it. This Discipline, then, is personally applying the Word of God to our hearts and lives with the aim of glorifying and enjoying God. And it is a powerful means for growing in Christlikeness.