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?
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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.