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Many years ago, Norman Vincent Peale wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking." The book was a huge bestseller and influenced many people. Before long, a national network of self-help gurus sprung up around the notion of a PMA -- "Positive Mental Attitude." Even today, the self-help section of bookstores is filled with shelves of many such books by various authors.

The fact is, controlling your way of thinking is a necessity if you are to find your way into lasting success. Are your thoughts negative or positive? Do you see an obstacle in your path as a barrier that blocks your progress? Or do you see it as a stepping-stone to a higher level? Your attitude determines your altitude. No one gains strength without first overcoming resistance.

How do you view things? Your mindset determines your destiny. No one rises higher than their efforts or expectations. What you look at, what you read, what you listen to will affect the focus of your vision. Vision shapes the future. If you look for reasons to justify failure, you'll find them. If you look for reasons to persevere and eventually win, you'll find those as well. What you see is what you get. Where you set your gaze is the direction that will keep you going.

All of your thoughts will fall into one of two camps, depending on your underpinning of faith. These thoughts -- your way of thinking -- can keep you trapped in pursuits driven by ambition or frustration. Or they may tap into another realm that is higher than human philosophy. Where is your head at? Are you plugged into repeating powerless empty-headed rhetoric? Do you justify why your life isn't going anywhere? Or have you found a basis for advancement that has a foundation based on an unshakable reality? Real faith taps into that matrix.

When I was a lad, I read a verse in the Bible that captured my attention. It was in Matthew 7:7. It read, "Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened." I noticed that the first three letters of the verse's main ideas spelled out the word ASK, an acrostic. That simple verse and the concept it revealed became an unspoken theme of my walk with Christ. I didn't realize it then, but these words were part of the constitution of the kingdom of God. Jesus unfolded these principles at the start of his ministry in his famous address that was eventually called the Sermon on the Mount.

Asking for what you want is a principle that is not only humancentric but is God-blessed. It is OK to ask. God wants us to ask. The key to avoiding problems is first having your ambition sanctified. You get there by having your imagination cleaned up -- a heart that is drawn to do the will of God, aiming to walk out God-given dreams. Focusing on your desires, objectives and goals is not a wrong thing. God made us to be purposeful, to achieve things, to be significant in society and to value a reputation for doing good.

These positive concepts are in line with praying to God. Praying is simply asking. There's more to it than this but this is where it all starts -- with child-like requests made to our Heavenly Father. Beyond petitions to the Lord, take it one step further. Read 2 Chronicles 20:20. You'll see a story of where God's people overcame their enemies by praising the Lord. They went beyond prayer into spiritual warfare.

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Ron Wood is a retired pastor and author. Contact him at [email protected] or visit www.touchedbygrace.org or follow him at Touched By Grace on Facebook. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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