I am the absolute Queen of Absentmindedness. Even when it comes to Bible reading.
When my kids were little, we’d laugh at Richard Scarry’s absentminded storybook character, Grandma Cat. She’d enter the room in her cute cat apron with her cute cat spectacles perched on her head and say, “Has anyone seen my glasses?” Just like it did for Grandma Cat, absentmindedness gets me into lots of funny scrapes, but it doesn’t help my Bible reading one bit.
Grandma Cat never paid attention to where she put her glasses, and often I open my Bible with that same lack of attention. If I’m not careful, I can skim through my reading by rote, without really noticing what the Scripture is saying to me. Thoughts of my to-do list or yesterday’s hard conversation occupy my mind and make it harder to hear God’s voice while I read. Then after I’m finished, I wonder, “Now what was that all about?”
Does this happen to you too? We desperately need the wisdom and encouragement Scripture can give us, yet we have a hard time focusing on what we read! To combat absentmindedness, I’m trying to cultivate the secret art of paying attention when I open God’s Word. Just a few small but mindful changes can help us get more goodness out of our devotional reading.
6 Ways to Get More Goodness from Reading Scripture
1. Expect God to speak to you.
Let’s approach Scripture mindfully, remembering it’s God’s letter to us. God’s Holy Spirit speaks through His living Word, so let’s ask Him to speak while we read. A good prayer to start with is Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
2. Read it in small chunks.
A “Bible in One Year” reading plan gives us get a broad picture of the whole breadth of Scripture, yet it can also overwhelm us. When I’m having trouble attending to God’s voice through His Word, I find it helpful to scale back and read shorter passages. Someday, I may throw caution to the wind and try to make it through the whole Good Book in a year, but for now I’m content with reading 10-20 verses each day. Even when I read a whole chapter, I slow down to focus on just a few verses.
3. Read it Twice
During a Thursday night Bible study with church friends, we’ve discovered how much more people contribute to the discussion when we read the passage not once, but two times. In the same way, I tend to get more out of my quiet time by reading through a passage twice. Sometimes I read once and listen to an audio version the second time.
4. Highlight it
I love color coding my Bible when I have extra time, but even highlighting one meaningful verse helps me read with more attention and think about what a passage means to me. I highlight promises, words of praise and thanks, encouragement, or challenges to obey. (You can check out my color coding system in this post.)
5. Write it
For me, “Bible Journaling” sounds intimidating, but for years I’ve copied down one or two Bible verses almost every day. Writing it slows me down to think about it, and it helps me remember it later on in the day. My journal also gives me a record of how God is speaking to me through His Word.
6. Pray it
Scripture fuels our faith, and when we use it as a guide for our prayers, we can be sure we’re praying according to God’s will. Praying through a passage aligns our heart to God’s. Try reading through a passage and stopping each time you see something that sparks a prayer. Maybe you see a promise to claim or a character quality you want to ask God to work in you. Perhaps you see a petition you can lift up for someone else.
In His Word, God has given us a treasure more valuable than anything else on earth. All the money in the world cannot buy the wisdom, hope, encouragement, and strength we find in Scripture. Indeed, the Psalmist says, “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72).
Let’s approach reading Scripture as a sacred opportunity to get to know the God who inspired its words. More than a duty, reading Scripture is a way to listen to God’s voice speaking to us. Mindfully paying attention to God’s Word is the first step to mining its treasures and goodness.
Which one of these suggestions could work for you today?
To dig deeper into God’s Word, click on the image below.
Betsy de Cruz writes to encourage women to get God’s Word in so they can live their faith out. She finds that sticking close to Jesus saves her from pulling her hair out when life gets crazy or discouraging. Betsy’s free guide, 10 Days to More, shows readers 10 ways to do devotional Bible study. It’s available at her blog, Faithspillingover.com, where you’ll find Bible study and prayer tips, as well as encouragement for family life and everyday faith. You can also find Betsy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Cindy Krall says
Loved this!! I followed Betsy’s link to see how she highlights in her Bible as well…I’m off to get markers! I so appreciate your ministry Mitzi. Have a beautiful Easter friend!
Thank you my friend! I loved Betsy’s words. She reminds us of all the goodness packed in God’s Word. Happy Easter to you.
Betsy de Cruz says
Thanks so much for reading, Cindy! I appreciate you, friend. May God shed more light in your heart as you read His Word!
Betsy de Cruz says
Thanks so much for inviting me to your beautiful blog today, friend! What a privilege.
Thank you for contributing! So much goodness wrapped up in this post.
Betsy, I absolutely love how you said to read it in “small chunks.” I think sometimes we feel that we have to read for fifteen minutes or a full chapter to feel we have accomplished something. When actually, God can take the smallest of scripture to minister to us in the mightiest of ways. I also loved the “highlight” recommendation. As an English teacher for over a decade, brain research supports the idea that annotation creates a “stickiness” to help us remember things better. I loved today’s post. Thanks for sharing.
So glad you enjoyed this Rachel. Small chunks and highlighting are two of my favorite ways to read and feel like I’ve accomplished something while gaining a better understanding. Bless you friend.
Betsy de Cruz says
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Rachel! Yes, I read just a little in my daily reading, or I skim through a chapter, but focus on fewer verses. I just can’t do more. And yes, what you say about annotating is so true, I think! Never thought of it that way.
Judy toal says
Please sign me up for your emails
I sure will. Thank you so much. I generally post on Thursday or Friday of each week. Have a blessed Easter.
Lisa notes says
I can be quite absentminded too. This tip is one that helps me the most: “Read it twice.” And sometimes I need someone to “tell me twice” too, even when I’m the one who asks the question to begin with. ha. Thanks, Betsy! We all want to get more goodness from our Bible reading so these are important tips.
I agree Lisa–read it twice. And most likely, I’ll read it a third or fourth time if needed. I like taking Scripture in smaller chunks–it helps me to process it with more clarity. Blessings to you.
Julie Sunne says
Wonderful ideas and encouragement I can definitely use! Thanks for being open and honest about your struggles, Betsy!
I agree, these tips were just what I needed and I loved the encouragement.
Michele Morin says
I really need to apply the same principles in reading my Bible that I use when I’m diving into something that I’m studying and want to “stick.” These are such great tips, Betsy, particularly the point of not trying to take things in such huge gulps.
Blessings to you and thanks for sharing insights that push us in our commitment to Truth.
These are great tips and I am so thankful for the reminders to take God’s Word in small chunks so I can better process. Blessings to you.
Sarah Geringer says
Great tips for getting more out of Bible study. Pinning this post!
Thank you so much Sarah! This post was packed full of goodness and ways to better process God’s Word.
Bev Rihtarchik says
I can be rather absentminded as well. I’ll read a verse and then I will go back and read it again because I realize I wasn’t truly paying attention the first time. Writing key verses down in my journal is also helpful because I am a visual learner. My Bible looks like a color happy kid got hold of it….highlighting helps me slow down and take note of what the key point of the verse is. Right there with you in needing some good “aids” to not just reading, but digesting His Truth.
Lisa Appelo says
I love the idea of reading it twice. I’ve never done that but that would work so well in my Sunday school class. I’ll be implementing this as needed. Thank you Betsy and Mitzi!
I felt the same way. These ideas made me think twice about what I already do and what I need to do to bring the Word home.
Such great wisdom and encouragment! I don’t have an audio Bible, so I like to read it out loud to myself, too! Blessings to you both for this great practical encouragment! And, Mitzi…I <3 those pretty click to tweet boxes! XOXO
Thank you sweet friend for the encouragement. The pointers from this message are helpful and worth following.
Lois Flowers says
I’ve found the read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans to be overwhelming too, Betsy. The one that seems to work best for me is a two-year plan, but even that usually takes me about three years! And I love the specific guidance you give about praying scripture … as you go along instead of at the end. That would definitely help keep me from getting as distracted!