How to Drastically Reduce Distractions During Your Time with God

Includes a Free eBook to download, print, or share

Have you lived out this scene? You pour a cup of coffee. You sit down to read the Bible. You pause to pray. And then you realize – before even cracking open your Bible – your mind is pulled in a million different directions.

6 Tips Distraction Free Quiet Time

Why does this happen? After all, you want to be fully present. You want to focus. You want to spend time with God.

And yet the distractions come. More accurately – the distractions bombard! 

It seems like every time a teach a workshop on reading and enjoying the Bible this topic shows up. I get questions about it. I receive emails about it. I see comments on Facebook about it.

We live in a distracted – and distracting – culture.

Hear this clearly: You can focus. You can reduce distractions. You can read, pray, and simply be with God without having your mind wander every 30 seconds.

However, it’s not easy. It takes practice. And it takes intentionality.

I have written a longer post – and recorded a podcast episode for you listeners out there – that dives into greater detail on the 6 Tips for a Distraction-Free Quiet Time. You can read the post or listen to the podcast here (or search “Keith Ferrin” on iTunes).

Today I want to give you – for free – the eBook version.

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Question: What helps you stay focused when you sit down to read the Bible or pray? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Goal of the ScripturesSometime ago I set a goal of praying through the psalms, one psalm a day. This is an ancient practice because the psalms have traditionally been the great prayer book of the people of God… But a strange thing happened. I found that my goal became to get through the psalms. Each day that I did one, I could chalk it off my list, for I was one step closer to the goal. This meant that I never wanted to get stuck on one psalm two days in a row – that would keep me from my goal.

It was as if in my mind God had a great big Behavior Modification chart on the refrigerator of heaven, and each time I made it thorough a psalm I got a gold star. Naturally this utterly sabotaged God’s real purpose for giving the psalms in the first place. The goal is not for us to get through the Scriptures. The goal is to get the Scriptures through us.

When Your Work Comes Full Circle

Every once in a while, God surprises you. Just for fun. He paints an amazing sunset. He orchestrates a phone call from a friend (at the same time you are thinking about them). He puts a song…or a Bible verse…or a poem…or a quote in front of your eyes and ears at just the right moment.

Last week, this happened for me in a God-has-been-planning-this-for-a-long-time sort of way.

Sometimes God surprises us - even years later - by showing us the impact of our lives on others.

Image courtesy of – © atm2003

The Back Story

It was October of 2013. I was driving up to Canada to speak at a conference for teachers and administrators from Christian schools throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

As the miles ticked away, I became overwhelmed with the sense that God was planning an Ephesians 3:20 moment. (You know…“immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.”) I called Kari, shared my excitement, asked for prayer, and drove the rest of the way with a smile on my face.

Sure enough, the next few days were like few I have experienced before or since.

#22: 6 Tricks for Memorizing Lists and Details [Podcast]

Do you struggle with memorizing? Does the struggle become even more brutal when what you are trying to memorize contains a list – or a lot of details? If so, grab a cup of coffee, take a seat, give me 31 minutes, and we’ll tackle this common problem head-on!

I love my digital Bibles. But when I preach, I always use a physical Bible. Here are 5 benefits you might not have thought of.

Main Topic: 6 Tricks for Memorizing Lists and Details.

If you’re like most people, you struggle with memorizing – and having it stick. When what you’re trying to remember is God’s Word, this is particularly frustrating. After all, if God wanted us to know it, He’d make it easier. Right?

Well…maybe not. But after spending more than two decades internalizing large chunks of the Bible, I have certainly learned a few tricks that make it way easier than when I simply tried to “learn a verse…add a verse…review those two…add another…” (Insert heavy sigh here.)

Let’s take a look at six tricks that have helped me – and thousands of other people – learn not only the Bible, but phone numbers, grocery lists, and loads of other details. (NOTE: I used the list of eight items in Philippians 4:8 as the example throughout the podcast episode. Thus the fancy Bible image above!)

Give Me 4 Minutes and 32 Seconds and You WILL Be Inspired

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I saw the title of this link (posted on my Facebook Page this week):

spokenword-logo2013 Ivy League SpokenWord Bible Memorization Challenge

When I hear phrases like “Bible Memorization Challenge” and I picture people quoting vast amounts of Scripture without putting much emotion or passion into it.

Learn it. Recite it. Forget it.

Combine that with “Ivy League” and I’m thinking, Holy smokes! This is going to be a whole lot of ultra-smart 20-year-olds “out quoting” each other and then talking about the Bible with a lot of intellectual reverence.

Man, was I wrong!

This was outstanding! Their passion was infectious. Their presentations were engaging. Every one of them. Some were solo presenters. Sometimes they presented as a team.

The winning presentation was by Josh Echebiri, a junior at Dartmouth. Take the next 4:32 and check it out:

What Quitting Cub Scouts Taught Me About the Bible

I joined the Cub Scouts when I was about 8-years-old. I quit a couple months later.

Guess why? (Long pause. Jeopardy music…) Give up?

You’re not going to believe this, but the hold-up-2-fingers-and-make-a-promise truth is that I told my parents I want to quit Cub Scouts. There is too much stuff to memorize and I don’t want to quote it in front of people.

Little Boy Scratching His Head - FDP- by David Castillo Dominici I can almost hear God audibly chuckling and saying, You just wait son. Have I got a plan for you?!

Fast forward 35 years to this morning. My 8-year-old son (a proud Cub Scout) brought up that story at the breakfast table. Here’s what he said:

I think it’s funny that you quit Cub Scouts because you didn’t want to memorize stuff and now your job is to memorize stuff. Actually…memorize and internalize.

I couldn’t hide the smile.

We’ve talked a lot about the difference between memorizing and internalizing. Now I know that he really gets it.

Three Tips To Make Sure the Reading of Scripture Isn’t the Most Boring Part of Your Worship Service

I recently spoke at a church that you would describe as “liturgical.” They were a fantastic group of people and I had a terrific time. Since they are a larger church – three services over two days – there were several different “Scripture readers” throughout the weekend.

Hands Holding Book -FDP- by jannoon028 As you might expect, some did a fantastic job of bringing the Word to life. Others…well…not so much.

This is such a common experience. It is especially challenging when you have different people reading Scripture every week. It can be hit-or-miss as to whether the reading of God’s Word is engaging – or sleep-inducing.

Today, I thought I’d share a few tips that will make a huge difference.

1. Set the expectation that – in your church – the reading of Scripture is awesome.

I’m not just talking about pretty good. I’m talking awesome! What is the tone that gets set right before the reader walks up to the microphone? Are people expecting to hear something awesome? Are they expecting less-than-awesomeness?

How NOT To Use An Audio Bible

Last week I wrote this post about the top two ways I use audio Bibles. While I am a big proponent of audio Bibles (after all, I present, record, and sell whole books of the Bible myself) there are definitely some times when you’ll want to refrain from turning on your audio Bible.

HeadphonesHere’s my short list:

Don’t use an audio Bible for your first few readings of a book.

The goal of reading the Bible is to have a conversation with the Author. The first few times you read through a book of the Bible you want the primary voice you hear to be God’s.

Top 2 Ways I Use Audio Bibles

[stextbox id=”info” caption=”I’m going unplugged…”]I am on vacation all this week – through Monday, August 27th – and will not be online at all. However, I will read and respond to every comment when I return, so please leave your thoughts below.[/stextbox]

It is extremely rare that I teach a Falling In Love With God’s Word Workshop or speak at a conference without someone asking me about audio Bibles.

  • old cassette - FDP - anankkmlShould I use them?
  • When do you use them?
  • When should I NOT use them?
  • What are the best ones?

Covering all these questions in one blog post would make for an extremely long post! I will address all of these in later posts, but today we’ll keep it simple.

The answer to the first question is: Yes! Absolutely! Without a doubt!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the top ways I use audio Bibles. (Then I want to hear about how you use audio Bibles in the comments.)

Two Mindset Shifts That Will Transform Your Love for God’s Word

ID-10070219Today I had two conversations where I had to explain what my ministry – That You May Know Ministries – is all about. The first was with a pastor I had met very briefly at an event a couple months ago. He had never heard me speak or seen me present. The other was someone in acquisitions at a large publishing house (insert prayer request here). She had heard me speak and tell the story of the blind man from John 9, but was trying to figure out that “one thing” that makes my presentations and teaching unique – and therefore – marketable.

As I unpacked what I am striving to do with my writing, Biblical storytelling, and speaking, it all came down to this one thing:

Everything I do is about helping people fall in love with God’s Word.

That’s it.

Not just study it, internalize it, learn it, know it, or even apply it. All of these are wonderful and necessary. And they are way more fun if we actually love what we are studying, internalizing, learning, knowing, and applying!

For me, I have believed the Bible was true since I was a kid. I didn’t fall in love with it until I was 23 years old. What changed? (Glad you asked.) It all came down to shifting my mindset.

Shift from informational Bible study to relational Bible study.

As I sat with this pastor sipping coffee, we certainly learned information about each other. We learned about our kids, our churches, where we have lived in the past, our common love of sports, etc. However, I didn’t bring a notepad with a list of questions he had to answer and then leave when the blanks were all filled! The umbrella over all of the information was relationship!

How frequently do we open up the Bible with the primary mindset of learning something? There are certainly days when you will learn something. There are also days when you should just read the Bible and realize you are hanging out with the Author. Very, very cool.

Shift from memorization to internalization.

If you have ever heard me speak, you have likely heard me say this:

The goal should always be to know the Word…not just to know the words.

That is the crux of internalization. Whenever I talk with people about memorization, the conversation very quickly moves to answering the question How do I get the words in the right order. Now…a big part of my presentations is quoting whole books of the Bible. I am NOT saying that getting the words in the right order isn’t important. What I AM saying is that it is not the starting point, the ending point, or the main point. Memorization lies somewhere in the middle of the internalization process for the purpose of being able to meditate on Scripture.

What is your mindset when you read God’s Word? Do you love it?

NOTE: I will be writing a lot more about these two topics in the days to come, sharing practical tips for falling in love with God’s Word. If you would like to get a jump start and read more about my process of Relational Bible Study (of which internalization is woven in), you can pick up a copy of my first book: Falling in Love with God’s Word.

Image: arztsamui /