Toward the end of Chapter 5 of God is Closer Than You Think, author John Ortberg notes that solitude does not automatically orient our thoughts to God’s presence. He states that the natural effects of solitude are quite the opposite:
“When people are alone, undistracted by noise or activity, their minds naturally drift toward an awareness of discontentment, a sense of inadequacy, anxiety about the future, and a chronic sense of self-preoccupation.”
So how do we go about making our minds the dwelling place of God? As Pastor Ortberg emphasizes, only God can change a mind. St. Paul encourages us in Romans 12:2 to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” We do, however, have the choice to accept or decline God’s gracious invitation. To live fully in God’s grace and presence, we must intentionally cultivate our minds so that Jesus always is present. Jesus’ presence will gradually crowd out our distorted misconceptions and beliefs.
Frank Laubach, in Letters from a Modern Mystic, comments on the role of concentration in this process:
“Concentration is merely the continuous return to the same problem from a million angles. So my problem is this: can I bring God back in my mind-flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind as an after-image, shall always be one of the elements in every concept and precept?”