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“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).
“I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99).
If you can’t concentrate upon the Bible, your study time will not be very profitable. It is so easy for the mind to wander as you read the Bible, and we must do whatever is necessary to keep our thoughts on the Scriptures, to hold the words of God in our hearts so that they bring forth good fruit. Not only do we live in a weak, fleshly body (called the “body of this death” in Romans 7:24) that gets tired and sick, and not only do we dwell in a world full of cares and troubles, but we have an aggressive spiritual enemy that seeks to hinder our progress. His name is Satan, meaning the adversary, the one who stands before us to resist us. Bible study is spiritual warfare, and we must do everything necessary to win this war.
The Parable of the Sower teaches us that a man must make the effort to understand and apply the Scriptures, or the truth will be stolen away from his heart by the evil (Matthew 13:19). We must capture the truth by meditating on it and finding out its meaning.
This is why MEMORIZATION of Scripture is so important. When Scriptures are memorized, the believer can then meditate upon them at any time. It is good to write Scripture verses down on cards and keep them with you so that you can spend time memorizing Scripture as you have opportunity, such as when you are waiting on someone or something. Redeem the time!
Following are some suggestions to help you concentrate upon the Word of God:
a. A quiet, private place is required. I have seen Christians trying to study the Bible in a room where other people are talking, children are active, music is playing, etc. That is not wise and it is not honoring to the Lord who deserves and requires our undivided attention. The Bible is the very Word of God. Would it be proper to invite God over for a visit and then have many other things going on at the same time as He was talking to us? On some occasions when I have visited people in their homes to talk to them about spiritual matters, they have kept the television on. That was very disrespectful to the message that I was bringing from God’s Word. You need to do whatever is necessary and possible to find a private, quiet place. There have been occasions when I have gotten into my car and driven out to a country road or, if in a city, to the backside of the parking lot of a large shopping area in order to have a private place for Bible study. Also in this age of technology and social media, it is important to turn off the phone, email, texts, chats, or anything else that would reduce or interrupt your concentration on God’s Word. If you are a mother of small children, you can try to have your quiet time with the Lord before the children awake or when they are napping. Even more importantly, you can teach them to sit quietly and play or look at books while you spend time with the Lord. This is a very important part of discipling their lives and teaching them to honor God and parents.
b. Ask the Lord to help you to keep your mind on His Word. If you find your mind frequently wandering during Bible study, lay the matter before the Lord. Tell Him that you desire to grow in knowledge of Him and His Word, explain your problem to Him, and beseech Him to help you concentrate.
c. If you are particularly worried about some matter, cast it upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7) and trust Him to take care of it for you; then turn your full attention to His Word.
d. Have pen in hand as you read. Just the action of picking up one’s pen and being ready to write things down or to mark in one’s Bible causes the mind to focus more on the reading.
e. Remove things from your Bible study area that are distracting. I know a pastor who removed all of the bright colored covers from the books in his office, because they distracted him when he was trying to study the Bible.
f. Be careful about using a computer during Bible reading time. I use my computer to study the Bible, because it is so efficient, but I do not use my computer when I have my daily devotional time in the Scriptures. It is too easy to get distracted with other things on the computer.
g. Be careful about extraneous thoughts. When you are studying the Bible, it will often happen that thoughts about other things will rush in and you will be tempted to leave the study of the Bible and to rush off to take care of those things. For this reason, it is a good idea to have pen and paper handy and to jot down such thoughts so that you can take care of them later. This way, you can put them out of your mind for the time being and proceed with your study. If you get in the habit of allowing yourself to rush off and take care of other things, you will be crippled in your ability to study the Bible fruitfully.
h. Go back and read the passage again. When you find that your mind has wandered during the reading of the Scripture, it is important to go back and read that passage again until you understand what you are reading, even if it takes several readings. It is better to read one verse with clear understanding than to read an entire chapter with the mind drifting to other things.
i. Try not to read the Bible when you are tired. Sometimes this cannot be avoided, and it is better to read the Bible when you are tired than not at all. But the wise Bible student will arrange his schedule in such a way that he can study the Scriptures when his mind is fresh.
j. If you find your mind wandering, it might help to put the Bible reading first before you do anything else in the day. I have found that if I start reading and studying other things first, it is much more difficult to concentrate on the Bible later.
k. Sometimes it is helpful to read the Bible aloud if you find your mind wandering. This can help you maintain your concentration.
l. A larger print Bible can also help with concentration because it is easier to read and the pages of the Bible are not as cluttered.
m. Be persistent. Don’t let the devil defeat you in your Bible reading. If you find yourself unable to concentrate for a period, don’t quit. There are ups and downs in Bible study as there are in everything else in life. The best tip for effective Bible study is to keep on keeping on!
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