I’ve had enough of crowds in my life. I’m taking a stand against letting “third parties” into my devotionals. Even better, I’m going to share everything I’ve learnt with you! So keep on reading.
Let us first focus on the most common culprit when it comes to being distracted… our eyes. I remember when I started university, a mere 6 years ago, doing my devotions was so much easier. Not only was I awake in the mornings (more on that later) but I was also still unaware of the distraction offered by On Demand services. DVDs were the worst visual distraction and seemed so easily turned off. Since then, things have completely turned around. Who else finds that at the end of the day, it is far easier to let Netflix keep running on auto while you’re getting ready for bed? Then we, or at least I, “forget” to turn it off when spending time with God in prayer or reading my Bible. Aren’t the pretty moving images just so much nicer to look at than the words in the Bible?
Can you see the problem yet? When you’re enjoying the latest episode of Daredevil or Once Upon A Time, you are forcing God to fight for our attention against moving images. You are choosing to put your time and energy into a pseudo-relationship with fictional characters instead of a loving relationship with the Creator of the Universe. And we all know that when we pick on relationship over another, the one we do not pick is going to suffer.
Turn off your laptop before you get ready for bed. If you can’t abide doing that, consider using a productivity timer to limit your use of On Demand services. I personally recommend Waste No Time
, which has limited when I’m on Netflix (and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest). Both my devotions and sleep has really benefited from it.
I have one of the busiest minds on the planet. Or at least that’s how I feel! Like there are 5,000 tabs open in my mind all at once all the time. This seems even more the case when I try to have a quieter time where I can focus on God. From to-do lists to fantasies (see this review for a fantastic book
if you do struggle with fantasies), it seems as if every thought we could ever have all surface in the middle of devotions. Anyone else gone running for a notebook to write out their entire jobs or shopping list for the next day in the middle of reading the Bible? Or written it on their arms because they don’t want to disrupt the “flow” by moving to get the notebook?
So what’s the problem here? This time you are forcing God to fight for the attention of your mind. All those open tabs are taking your mind’s focus away from the passage you’re reading or the topic you’re praying over. Even worse, do you realise you are choosing to plan food and remember to do the washing over talking with the King of Kings? I’m all for worshipping God from the kitchen sink (someone has to wash up) but sometimes there is a need to put aside Martha to take up Mary
The solution: Most of the advice says to keep a notebook nearby to write down thoughts as they occur to get them out of your head. Yet that seems to result in more and more thoughts of a similar nature. Instead, spend five minutes before your devotions writing down any tasks, ideas or thoughts that are floating around your head. Basically, empty out any competition to give God all your attention.
Tiredness, fatigue, sleepiness. Lack of energy is the final “third party” to be found guilty of creating a troublesome threesome. The oldest culprit for disturbing our devotions, falling asleep might not be as obvious as a Netflix addiction or as intrusive as a to do list we’re constantly adding to. However, it is the hardest to deal with as reversing a lack of energy requires more planning than turning off a laptop or spending five minutes writing a to do list. We’ve all had those mornings where eyelids just will not stay open for more than two minutes. Or those evenings when your journal becomes a mass of scribbles as your pen takes on a life of it’s own. Tiredness removes the ability for us to concentrate, even to the extent that we will read the same Bible verse repeatedly without meaning to.
The real problem here, apart from wanting to go back to bed, is that a lack of energy equals no concentration. This, in turn, equals prayers that consist of about three words because we never seem to be able to finish the sentence. Or bible studies that consist of one sentence we keep re-reading instead of moving on. Our relationship with God is almost always going to suffer on an intimate level when tiredness means we can’t concentrate.
The solution: Decide when you are most awake and choose to do your devotion then. Turn it into a routine that you do 7 days a week, getting up at the same time and going to sleep the same time each day, or as close to as possible. Remember to be reasonable about demands on your body though and plan your day around when you want to wake up, go to sleep and how many hours you need. After that, add in your devotional time as a priority, then everything else.
Have you spotted yourself in one of the troublesome threesomes? I’m definitely guilty of having Engrossed Eyes way too often and normally by choice because I just don’t want to focus on anything but if I’m honest they probably all interfere with my devotions. How do you keep your devotions for a company of two instead of a crowd of three? Share your favourite hints and tips in the comments below!