We have reached Strategy #3 in our quest to find the solution to the most common Bible-reading problem people face. If Strategy #1 is Pray…before you ever pick up your Bible, and Strategy #2 is Pause to pray in the middle of reading, I bet you can guess where Strategy #3 is headed. Yep. You guessed it.
Pray after you are done reading.
This may seem like an odd strategy when the goal is to keep our minds from wandering when we’re reading the Bible. Maybe this will help…
Have you ever had one of those classes – or projects at work – where you couldn’t stop thinking about it when you were away from it? When you got back, how focused were you? Did you have to work at keeping your mind from wandering? Probably not. Here is the deal: The more you think about something while you are away from it, the easier it is to focus when you return.
So often we set aside time to read or pray. But that’s just it. We “set aside” time to read or pray. It is designated time, not a practice that permeates our lives. Seems I read something somewhere about praying continually. Hmmm…
If we want to focus while we read, we have got to be in conversation with God when we are not reading. Those conversations will develop our hunger for the Word. A longing to get back to the Word. To continue the conversation as we read.
There are two times when this habit is essential:
Immediately after reading the Bible. As I am wrapping up my time in the Word I pray a prayer similar to this:
Lord Jesus, help me remember what I have read here this morning. Let’s talk about this again throughout the day. Bring it to my mind as I have periods of down time. When I’m driving my car, eating my lunch, brushing my teeth. Remind me of Your Word as I face situations where Your Word would bring needed comfort, a helpful reminder, valuable instruction, or even necessary correction. Let your Word saturate my thoughts and attitudes.
Any other time. Ok…I know. Sounds like a good church answer. But how often do we ignore the times when God actually answers the first prayer. He brings something to mind and we don’t engage in the conversation He is starting. We’ll gladly pick up our mobile phone for anyone who happens to call at any random time. But when God calls? Too busy. He couldn’t really be talking to me. I am imagining this.
What would happen if we prayed that God would talk to us throughout the day, expected that He would, and then engaged in the conversations when He did? Those conversations would become easier, more frequent, more enjoyable, and more fruitful. We would become shaped by them. We would look forward to them.
And when we returned to the Bible? We wouldn’t struggle as much with our wandering mind, because we would anticipate meeting Jesus there. And He would.
When was the last time you had a conversation with God during the day about something you had read in the Bible that morning?