Do you constantly find yourself distracted during prayer and Bible study?
If so, it’s not just you.
From a lack of focus and discipline while actually sitting down to read the Bible to a busy life that leaves little time for prayer, distractions during prayer and Bible study can be a seriously pesky obstacle for many Christians’ spiritual growth.
The good news? There are plenty of things you can do to stop getting so distracted during prayer and Bible study.
Here are seven techniques that work great for me — maybe one of them will help you too?
1. Choose the Right Time and Place
Are you trying to spend time with God right in the middle of your busy day (when your mind is going a million miles per hour) or last thing at night (when you’re tired and likely to fall asleep)?
If so, something as simple as choosing a different time and place can really make a huge difference – whether you’re learning how to read the Bible for the first time or you’re ready to dive deep and learn how to study the Bible for yourself.
For example, you could choose to read your Bible:
- First thing in the morning, before your children are awake
- In the car (Listen to an audio Bible or show up to work 5 minutes early)
- At the gym (Again, audio Bible to the rescue)
- On your lunch break
- While your kids are at sports practice
It doesn’t matter when – as long as it’s a time that works well for you that you can stick to consistently enough to read the Bible daily and make it a habit.
2. Have the Right Materials on Hand
Once you’ve chosen the perfect time and place, the next step is to show up prepared.
Now, it’s true that you don’t really need any special materials to pray and read your Bible (other than a Bible, of course), but having some additional things on hand can be REALLY helpful.
A Notepad and Pen: Constantly being interrupted by thoughts of your to-do list or daily activities you need to remember? Simply jot them down and go back to what you were doing.
A Good Study Bible in an Easier Translation: The New Living Translation (NLT) is a good one to start with. The Message is also a very easy read, although it is a paraphrase, so it’s not as close to the original translation. Personally, I typically read the New International Version (NIV).
A Bible Study: There are TONS of them out there. For example, YouVersion has hundreds of reading plans available on various books and topics, including Leadership, available via a mobile app or online.
A Prayer List: Something as simple as writing out the people or situations you’d like to pray for in a list can be tremendously helpful for staying on track.
3. Write it Out
Your prayer list and list of distractions aren’t the only things it can be helpful to write down either. You may also consider writing out your prayers in a prayer journal or writing out notes by hand as you read your Bible.
Not only do these two simple actions make staying focused during prayer and Bible study that much easier, but it’s always fun to look back later and see all the ways you’ve grown, all the things you’ve learned and all the prayers God has answered.
4. Grab a Friend
Everything’s better with a friend — prayer and Bible study included!
If you constantly find yourself distracted during prayer and Bible study, why not grab a friend to pray and read with? You can encourage each other, inspire each other, challenge each other, and help keep each other on track and focused.
Share your knowledge, your insights and all the ways you feel God speaking to you and working in your life. Ask questions and get honest feedback. Not only will it help you get more involved in the text, but it will grow your friendship too.
I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who is struggling to read the Bible consistently, who could use a little outside help.
5. Examine the Distractions
If your distractions are simply run-of-the-mill annoyances caused by tiredness or boredom, the four suggestions above should take care of the problem.
But what if they don’t?
In that case, it might be worthwhile to stop what you’re doing and examine the distractions to see if there is something you need to learn from them.
- Is God putting something or someone on your heart that you need to pray for?
- Is there something you’re worrying about that you need to fully surrender to God?
- Is there a situation in your life right now that you need to get taken care of and stop procrastinating on?
- Have you become so addicted to busyness that you’re now unable to slow down?
If the problem isn’t just a quick, fleeting distraction but an actual life problem, you will need to set aside some time to actually deal with the problem if you want it to stop coming back.
6. Look for Unconfessed Sin in Your Life
Okay, hard question time:
Is there anything that God has asked you to do that you’re refusing to obey Him in? If so, this may be the cause of your distractions.
Think about it this way: The Bible isn’t just a bunch of lifeless words on a page. It’s actually the medium through which God speaks to us.
And if you are refusing to listen to God — well, why would He keep talking?
The result? The Bible doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t “come to life.” It grows dull, lifeless, boring…. and we can’t keep our focus.
The same goes with prayer:
Are you actually having a conversation with God? Or simply talking to yourself out loud?
And if you’re just rambling out loud, not really expecting an answer and not willing to listen and obey what you may hear…. well, is it any surprise then that you’re distracted?
7. Check Your Expectations
If you’ve gone through all of the above and you’re still having trouble staying focused while praying and reading your Bible, you may simply need to double check your expectations.
There are no laws or guidelines that say that you MUST read your Bible or pray for a certain amount of time for it to count. And certain seasons of life are going to be more difficult to focus in than others — that’s not a bad thing, that’s just life.
Think about the conversations you have with your spouse and children. Do you ONLY talk to them when all of you have an uninterrupted 30 minutes to set aside? Or do you also value keeping touch in the brief day-to-day moments as well?
It’s okay to have short quiet times! It’s okay to want to enjoy reading the Bible as well — not just plow your way through it. You have to find something that works with you and your real life, or you’re not going to be able to stick with it.
I’d say a good mix of longer times and shorter, more interrupted times, is TOTALLY normal — especially if you’re in one of those seasons of life.
Photos sourced from Shutterstock.