Help For The Wandering Mind: Pray While Reading
Pause to pray in the middle of reading.
Not rocket science – but so frequently left out.
Typical Scenario: I begin reading. Two paragraphs in and my mind is off dancing with the stars. (I know… lame. Sorry.) I tell myself, Ok Keith. You are going to focus. You can do it. Focus. This typically works for about two more paragraphs. About the third time I have this conversation with myself, I’m pretty frustrated. Might even put the Bible down and chalk this up to a bad day of time in God’s Word. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Really? A “bad day?”
Let’s try an analogy. I have never seen a running back get tackled a few times and then simply walk off – mid-way through the 1st Quarter – and chalk it up to a “bad day” on the field. He might be frustrated. He certainly didn't want to get tackled.
What I usually see is a running back on the sidelines, talking with the coach. Making plans for the next time the running back goes out on the field. New strategies for beating the defense. Maybe even a quick pep talk. This all takes place in the middle of the game.
Now, when I find my mind wandering, I stop and talk to The Coach. When I do, I am reminded of three things:
The Coach is on my side. I am not alone in this. You are not alone in this. God is pulling for us. He is on our side. He wants our time in His Word to be beneficial and enjoyable. Knowing that God is for me–instead of disappointed in me–is an enormous encouragement as I begin reading again.
The Coach knows how to beat the defense. God has been at this a long time. He knows all of the enemy’s tricks. He is not surprised by any of it. When we pause to talk to God, share our frustrations, and ask for help, He is more than happy to give it… without blame or shame. (See James 1:5) He will remind us of His presence. He will send “blockers” to keep distractions away.
The Coach sometimes just wants to chat. Most of the time, my prayer in the middle of reading is quite short. A minute or two. But there are times when I never get back to my Bible reading. I spend time talking with God. And listening to God. (Arguably more important than the talking part.) Even when my intention is to spend 30-45 minutes reading the Bible, if I end up reading for five minute, and chatting with God the rest of the time, that is not time poorly spent!
Before wrapping this up, I want to make it clear that my mind still wanders sometimes. Even at times right after I’ve been talking with The Coach. That’s when I pause, chat with The Coach and get back at it. After all, I have never met a running back who figured out a way to never get tackled. But they always want to get back in the game.
Do you ever stop and pray in the middle of your Bible reading? What are those conversations like?