When did thinking become boring? Why is it that, according U.S. Department of Labor statistics, 83% of Americans do not spend any part of the day just thinking (without doing anything else)? Columbia professor, Dr. Maron observes, “We lack comfort in just being alone with our thoughts…We’re constantly looking to the external world for some sort of entertainment.” In a controlled study involving 409 students at the University of Virginia, participants were placed in a bare room for up to fifteen minutes. No phones. No books. No distractions of any kind. The rules were simple. Stay awake. Be quiet. Sit still. Almost half of those participating found it to be an unpleasant experience that they would not like to repeat. One portion of the study allowed for students to self-administer a small but unpleasant static electrical charge. Eighty-seven percent of the men and twenty-five percent of the women preferred the electrical charge to being alone with their thoughts!
We like to watch people think, but we don’t always want to think for ourselves. Hence, the shorter and shorter attention span—the cry for more and more entertainment and excitement, anything but a sermon or worship service that challenges me to be alone with my own thoughts—to think, reason, and evaluate my spiritual life. The prophet invites, “Come now, and let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18). But, we don’t always want to do that.
If we are not comfortable being alone with our thoughts, it may be because we are not comfortable being alone with God. Perhaps we need to spend some time alone with God, making things right with Him. We are never really alone. “He is not far from us; for in Him we live and move and exist…” (Acts 17:27,28). We must “seek God…grope for Him and find Him” (vs. 27). This we cannot do without being alone—without training ourselves to set aside distractions and focus on things eternal. To just be still and think.
Think about things in heaven (Colossians 3:1-2). Think about Jesus and the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1-3). Think about all those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). By all means think. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).