Help for the Wandering Mind: Prayer
"Anyone here ever struggle with your mind wandering when you read the Bible." Every hand goes up (except for those people who refuse to ever raise their hands in public).
I have asked this question – with the exact same response – every time I have spoken on Falling In Love with God’s Word. This is a universal problem. And it’s super frustrating!
So Keith, how do I beat this? (Glad you asked.)
Pray… before you ever pick up your Bible.
I know this sounds a bit over-spiritual, but I don’t put prayer as my number one strategy because it’s the “Christian” thing to do. I put it first because it is truly the most important. There are actually three prayers I pray before I ever start reading. Each helps get me in the right mindset as I prepare to read.
God, Thank You for Your Living Word. It is easier to focus on something that we are grateful for, as opposed to something we feel obligated to. This is a simple prayer, but an important one nonetheless.
The God of the universe has given you His Word. He is talking with you. He wrote these words centuries ago – with you in mind! This isn’t simply a textbook to be studied. It’s a poem, a letter, a novel, a guidebook, a biography, and an autobiography…all rolled up together. And it’s for you. Starting with a thankful heart will keep you engaged as you read.
God, what do You want to do today? If you have read this blog for long or heard me speak, you know that I am passionate about Relational Bible Study. Time in God’s Word is primarily a relational activity – not an informational one. For many of us, we have spent years studying the Bible informationally. It is now a habit to approach the Bible with the mindset of God, What do You want to teach me today?
What if God doesn’t want to teach you anything? What if He just wants to hang out with you? What if he wants to encourage you, comfort you, or simply remind you that He has been in relationships with a lot of messy people (just like you and me) for a very long time? Don’t get me wrong. Some days God most certainly will want to teach you something. Just not every day. Some days my dad taught me stuff. Some days we played catch. Both were necessary.
Asking this question helps us approach our time in the Bible conversationally. After all, would you be able to stay focused on a conversation with a friend who only wanted to teach you things every time you got together? You would quickly get bored. Then you would stop getting together. Hmmm… sounds like my pattern of quiet time the first 20 years I hung out with Jesus.
God, Help me focus. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But doesn’t it make sense? If someone is playing defense, aren’t we better off with blockers? So frequently we forget that God has angels prepared to help us. (Hebrews 1:14)
No running back would ever step on the field without bringing his teammates along. If the enemy is actively trying to make sure that we don’t enjoy our time in God’s Word, why would we ever try to fight that fight on our own? What chance do we stand? But, if God’s angels are blocking for us…well…that’s another story.
Next time you reach for your Bible, pause for a few minutes and pray these three prayers. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to focus – and how much more you enjoy it.
What other prayers have you prayed before you start reading the Bible?