I feel like I always have a million things running through my mind—and that’s only compounded during the holidays.
I need to remember to call the repair shop and schedule an oil change that I needed like two hundred miles ago. Oops. And I need to order my sister’s Christmas present. Oh, that reminds me—I need to email my boss about my Christmas vacation. And I need to run after work to burn off the entire pie I ate at Thanksgiving. . . . Ugh, but I also need a haircut, and maybe my stylist can fit me in tomorrow? Maybe I should get bangs again. That seems like a good life choice. I should check Instagram and see if I can find any inspiration.
And so begins the thirty minutes of completely unnecessary Instagram stalking to find a hairstyle that I probably won’t get anyway.
This train of thought doesn’t magically stop when I sit down to do my personal Bible study. It’s always lurking in the back of my mind, small thoughts coming to the front of my mind when my reading reminds me of something I need to do—and then the chain of thoughts starts all over again.
It’s hard to stay focused on any one thing at once, especially with so many things vying for our attention. But when we study God’s Word, it’s especially important for us to focus solely on what we’re reading, dedicating specific time to God and God alone.
Here are a few techniques I’ve used to help refine and focus my time spent in the Word:
Identify when you’re least distracted
Identifying a time when you’ll be less distracted can make it easier to stick to your routine. I’m the least distracted in the morning before my day gets going—and it’s easier for me to block off thirty minutes each morning than it is in the evening. But maybe your peaceful time is at the end of the day after the dishes are washed and the kids are in bed.
Find a peaceful place
Once you’ve found your ideal time, you have to find an ideal place. Where can you have fifteen to thirty minutes of quiet time? This might be difficult (I know my stay-at-home mom had a hard time finding a time and place where we weren’t constantly screaming for her). Maybe it’s your backyard, bedroom, local coffee shop, or car while you’re in the pick-up line at school.
Stick to your chosen time and place
I know this is hard—“life happens” and all that jazz—but making Bible study a part of your daily routine is crucial. Yes, it’s tempting to hit snooze a few more times or hit the hay early and skip your daily devotion time, but don’t compromise.
Put away your phone (really away)
Put your phone in your kitchen, your bedroom, or even just the other side of the room. No matter where you put it, make sure you can’t hear or access it during your dedicated study time. The temptation to “just see who texted me” is too great to have your phone somewhere you can easily get sucked in.
Choose a study that interests you
You can’t go wrong with reading a book of the Bible, but you might want a study on a specific question you’ve been wrestling with, a devotion on your vocation, or a Bible study that guides you through a book of the Bible. Choosing a study that applies to your life and that connects with you can help you be less distracted while you’re studying. (Check out our categories of Bible studies if you need some guidance or inspiration.)
Pray before you study
About a year ago, I was struggling to regularly read my Bible. I kept wondering why I wasn’t sticking with it—and then it hit me. I was trying to do my Bible study on my own without God. I started praying for God to give me the desire, strength, and motivation to joyfully study His Word. And you know what? God answered my prayer. God planted joy, contentment, and longing for His Word in my heart. If you’re struggling to do your study or if you’re distracted, ask God to help.
How do you stay focused during your Bible study? What’s worked for you?