Our minds have a natural tendency to wander and drift. Often we can't sleep because we are unable to shut down the barrage of thoughts that invade our minds. I call these "unwilling distractions."
As I sat in church during worship recently, my mind was flooded with invading thoughts—thoughts of ministry, my next sermon, church finances, the need for more space. These are all important things, but I was totally distracted from worshiping the Lord. I had to keep bringing my thoughts into captivity.
When God communed with Abraham and made covenant with him, Abraham killed five animals and laid them out as a sacrifice. Scripture says, "When the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away" (Genesis 15:11).
That is exactly what happens to us during worship. Thoughts fly down on us like bothersome birds, interfering with our intimacy with Him, trying to devour our sacrifice. And, like Abraham, we need to drive them all away.
Every time I shut myself in to pray, within ten minutes my thoughts begin to run off in all directions. I hear my mouth worshiping the Lord, but my mind is completely on something else. I try fighting off the flood of thoughts, but even more come pouring in. The flesh constantly wars against our spirit, wanting our attention.
The same happens to me in God's house. I can be praising the Lord, full of love for Jesus, when suddenly my mind begins chasing after some other matter. Our wandering thoughts are not always of the devil. Sometimes they simply crowd in on us—thoughts of business, family, problems, difficulties. They must always be brought into captivity, however, because we are at war!
The flesh will always try to interfere with our worship or our prayer time. We are commanded to resist the flesh, and we must keep bringing Jesus back into focus. If we keep our mind centered on God, His fire will fall on our holy sacrifice.