We live in a distracted time. We frequently glance at our phones and dive into things that don’t matter in the long run. This has consequences for our professional and family life. It also wreaks havoc on our reading of the Bible. When we struggle to pay attention, it is difficult for us to read God‘s word profitably.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can regain our attention span and deepen the word of God, but it will take work. Here are four ways to get your focus back on Bible reading.
Stay away from distractions
We probably ‘read’ more than any previous generation, but most of our reading consists of status updates, tweets, and analyzing blog posts. We practiced reading short information and avoided thinking about demanding topics by moving on to the next thing.
I recommend that you read the Bible daily from a physical copy of the Bible instead of an app on your phone or tablet. Your Bible doesn’t have a home button, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, or your email. Each person has only a limited amount of willpower, so don’t spend it avoiding the temptation to scroll down Facebook instead of reading your Bible.
Additionally, you may need to either turn off your phone, put it in “airplane” mode, or leave it in another room. Studies have shown that the presence of a telephone erodes the quality of a conversation. There is something about seeing our phones that reminds us of all the things we might be checking. Instead, avoid that temptation by not having it in sight or within reach.
Most of us suffer from short attention spans and our minds frequently wander when reading the Bible. A convenient way to combat this is to read with a pen or pencil in your hand. Reading with a pen or pencil takes you from passive reading to active reading. Circle the meaningful words, underline the verses that strike you, and write down any questions or ideas you have along the way. As you do this, you will find that you pay more focused attention to your reading and remember more of what you have read.
Additionally, a journal may be helpful as you read the scriptures. Take a few minutes and write a paragraph about what you are reading. You can also write down application areas or things you need to think about in your personal life after reading. Writing things down after reading the scriptures changes the way you read and helps you remember.
Read in a consistent place and at a consistent time
One of the best ways to establish a rhythm for daily Bible reading is to find a fixed place and time to do so. For me, I found that I needed to be awake and eaten breakfast before I tried to read. So I work out early in the morning, cook breakfast, then sit down to read my Bible. When I put things in this order in the morning, my Bible reading becomes a natural part of what I’m doing, so I don’t have to wonder whether or not I’m going to read my Bible that day.
This is what I have found to work best for me, but you are going to have to get over it in your own life and your own schedule. Can you get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning to read your Bible, or do you have to get up fifteen minutes later? Can you take time out of your lunch hour, or reading right after you get home would work better for you? Know yourself, your schedule, and when you’re most alert, so make sure nothing is interfering with this time.
Having a consistent place to read is also important. Now, there is no holy place where the reading of the Bible is to be done, but have a particular place where you read so that it acts as a mental signal. When I sit down to have breakfast at our dining room table, it reminds me to read the Bible when I’m done. The same can be true for your favorite chair or desk in your home. Find a place to read daily that signals you when it is time to read the scriptures.
Sharpen your focus in other areas
We tend to think of life as a tackle box with small compartments that separate one area of our life from others. We do not see how our habits at work affect our personal spiritual disciplines and vice versa. Instead, we need to think of ourselves as whole people and our lives as mixing bowls instead of tackle boxes.
Take your job seriously. When you arrive, devote yourself entirely to your work. Don’t give in to constant distractions throughout the day and attack your job with unwavering diligence.
Get fully involved in family, friends and neighbors when you are not at work. In the afternoon, put your phone in a drawer and don’t spend the best hours of your day looking at pictures of other people spending time with their families. Be present with your family. Talk and do things together. Apply the same principles to your time with friends. Don’t glance at your phone, but rather immerse yourself in the conversation.
If your habit is not paying attention to family, looking at your phone instead of talking to friends, and constantly giving in to distractions at work, you will not be giving the focused attention your Bible reading demands. . Learning to focus on your work and family life will pay off in your Bible reading. Likewise, as you learn to devote yourself fully to your scripture reading time, it will help you in other areas that require your full attention.
This article originally appeared on ScottSlayton.net. Used with permission.
Scott slayton is Senior Pastor at Chelsea Village Baptist Church in Chelsea, AL and writes on his personal blog One Degree to Another: scottslayton.net. He and Beth have been married since 2003 and have four children. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottslayton.
Photo credit: Unsplash / John Mark Smith