Unfocused Mind? Why the Devil Might Be the Cause

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the spiritual dangers that accompany a lack of focus? How does the devil use distractions to distance you from God?

The author of The Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer, contends that our minds are a spiritual battlefield. An unfocused mind is a sign that we’re under attack by the devil. She explains why our minds wander and how the devil is behind these distractions.

Read more to understand Meyer’s argument.

An Unfocused Mind

The devil attacks our minds by preventing us from focusing and by causing our minds to wander. When we have an unfocused mind, we can miss what is happening around us and lose opportunities to connect with God and other people in a positive way. For example, we may miss important messages from God during a sermon or scripture reading if our mind wanders off, or we may lose an opportunity for meaningful conversation if we can’t focus on what the other person is saying. 

Meyer gives three main reasons why our mind may wander when we want it to focus. (Shortform note: it’s unclear whether these three reasons are how the devil attacks us or additional factors that affect focus. Meyer seems to be saying that these three factors can make our minds more susceptible to attack.) 

  • Vitamin deficiency: Meyer notes that B vitamins aid in focus and suggests examining our diet if we have difficulty concentrating. 
  • Fatigue: Meyer notes that being extremely tired can prevent us from focusing. 
  • Lack of discipline: Meyer suggests that a lack of focus results from failing to discipline our minds. She notes we need to practice controlling our thoughts to develop the skill of focus. 

(Shortform note: Meyer groups these factors together but doesn’t acknowledge a crucial difference between them: The first two indicate physical weaknesses, while the third, a lack of discipline, implies a character weakness. Her inclusion of a character weakness here indicates that she lacks empathy for, and even ignores, the many additional physical or neurological factors that may contribute to a lack of focus. For example, ADHD, dementia, depression, anxiety, OCD, and many other physiological conditions can all impede focus, and although they each have physical or neurological roots, might be interpreted as a lack of discipline, calling into question Meyer’s conclusion in this section.)

A specific way that Meyer warns that the devil lures our minds away from the present moment is by causing us to “wonder” to excess. Meyer describes a “wondering mind” as one that spends too much time ruminating about future possibilities. Wondering can be unproductive if we simply waffle between decisions and become indecisive and confused. For example, we may wonder whether we should send our child to one school over the other. While this is a worthwhile question, once we have all of the information, we would do well to make the best decision we can and move on. Meyer notes that questioning our decisions robs us of the opportunity to experience the present moment in a positive way.

(Shortform note: Meyer seems to be equating “wonder” and worry. Switching the terms may make her meaning more clear, as the word “wonder” does not necessarily carry the negative connotation that she is implying. For example, a Christian may look at nature with a sense of “wonder” and admiration for God’s creation.)

Focusing on the Present Moment

The idea of being fully engaged in the present moment has gained traction with many people looking to slow down and reclaim joy and fulfillment in their lives. In his self-help book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle argues that learning to let go of extraneous thoughts and focusing on the “now” can help us lead more positive lives. 

According to Tolle, one reason that we often find ourselves unhappy and preoccupied is that we focus on the past and future rather than the present. Focusing on the past is unproductive if it brings up negative emotions about something we cannot change. For example, we may become overwhelmed with guilt, regret, and resentment, none of which are conducive to a healthy, happy present. Likewise, focusing on the future can make us anxious and stressed if we simply worry about what might happen rather than planning and taking action in the “now.” Since we can’t change the past and we can’t fully control the future, Tolle suggests that we should focus on the only thing we can control: the present.

Both Meyer and Tolle propose that minding our thoughts can help us find inner peace and reclaim the present moment. Meyer argues that losing the present moment to distraction keeps our minds off our relationship with God. Tolle argues that it keeps our minds off our relationship with our true selves or our “being.” When we train our minds to focus on the “now,” both authors suggest that we can enjoy more positive lives and better relationships with those around us. 
Unfocused Mind? Why the Devil Might Be the Cause

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Here's what you'll find in our full Battlefield of the Mind summary:

  • How the Devil makes it his mission to corrupt our minds with negative thoughts
  • How to recognize the signs that Satan is attacking your mind
  • How to thwart Satan’s attacks and find happiness and fulfillment

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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