Is Your Reticular Activating System Programmed for God?

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brain illustrationFirst off, what exactly is the Reticular Activating System?

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is made up of a group of cells that run from the base of our brain to the central cortex. It is the job of the RAS to block out all sensory information that’s non-essential to you and me right now. While letting in the information we consider important.

I’ve heard is said, that if it were not for the RAS we would probably go insane due to sensory overload. So its ability to filter things out is as important as its ability to let things in.

Keep in mind that it is you and I who decides consciously or unconsciously what is allowed to come in, as well as, what is filtered out. And the RAS is going to filter out anything we have not taught it is important.

Now, the two main things the RAS lets through are things of value to us, or things we consider dangerous.

I’ll give you an example of the RAS working in my wife. When we lived in Chicago and had our first child there could be sirens wailing across town, traffic rumbling down our road, thunder from a storm, and she’d hardly stir.

But, if our daughter coughed or cried even a little, she instantly wakes up. That is the RAS at work

Now you might be saying to yourself that’s all very interesting, but just what does that have to do with me and God. I’m glad you asked!

Let me ask you, is your RAS currently programmed according to biblical principles?

Let’s look at Philippians 4:8 and see what we should be focusing on, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

Is our RAS programmed to focus on the things we just read about, or has it been trained to focus on other things? Do you spend a lot of time focusing on edifying things, or have you unconsciously trained yourself to focus on a lot of the bad stuff in the world?

Look at Psalms 63:1-11

1 O God, You are my God; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

This was written in a time when David was going through trials in the wilderness, David’s focus and mediation was on God, he did not stay focused on his problems, he acknowledged them and moved on.

How can we let our light shine when our minds are cluttered with negative thoughts?

We must focus on the good things of God. — What He has done for us, the great opportunity that lies before us.

We must keep God in our focus and not filter Him out through our RAS while focusing on all the other distractions of life; which is what so many of us do.

It seems a lot of the time our RAS wants to focus on everything but God. We’re all so busy living life and putting out fires. We forget to stop and smell the roses.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, I just don’t have time to pray, or read the bible, etc.

My feeling about it is this is, you will never find time for God, because were all too busy, WE MUST MAKE TIME FOR GOD. The only way to do that is to train your RAS to see your relationship with God as your top priority.

One way to start doing this is to place index cards all around your house reminding yourself to pray, read the Bible, to think about God.

Look at David’s focus in Psalm 119:10-16:

10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

We must make a conscience decision as to what we are going to focus on. We must train ourselves to quit focusing on the negative and carnal things in life. We must stop letting life dictate what we focus on and make God and His Will our focus.

In order for God to use us, we must have our focus in the right place. We all need to train our RAS to start working for us and not against us.

Let’s look at Philippians 4:8 one more time as a reminder.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

You can train your RAS to focus on the things of God. I’ll admit it takes time and effort, but it can be done, and it is so worth the effort.

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