Question Text: I am unable to concentrate when reading bible and praying and mind gets distracted and deviates easily. How can I overcome this?
Answer Text: This is a real problem faced by many who want to read the Bible and pray sincerely. This is one of Satan`s greatest tricks and we need to overcome this. Otherwise we will be defeated. Satan can prevent us from praying. He knows that once we pray sincerely he will be defeated. So he will do every thing within his limits to PREVENT us from praying. This is one of the tricks he uses for the same. But we must overcome this struggle by our determination. Remember that it is the Spirit of God who will teach us to pray (Rom.8:26). Remember also that it is God`s desire that we should resist the devil (1Pt.5:9; Js.4:7).
So let me try to give you some practical suggestions about your private prayer life. First and foremost is to find a quiet place and a fixed time for Bible reading and prayer. Man, as you know, is an animal of habits and once certain habits are fixed in us, it is very difficult to get out from there easily. Having a fixed place and time will create in us a hunger for the same when that time comes. You know that you can train our stomach in such a way that you become hungry at a particular time during the day. Many people have NO hunger for God`s Word and for prayer because they do NOT have a fixed place and time for doing this! Then go to that fixed place at that fixed hour with a Bible, a hymn book and a note book.
Then you need to PLAN YOUR TIME IN SMALL BITS of five minutes each. Use the first five minutes for praising God. Sing a song of praise, read a Psalm of praise or praise God from your heart as the Lord gives you utterance. Any one can concentrate for five minutes for the same. Then take the next five minutes to search your heart to see if what you did during the past 24 hours was pleasing to the Lord. Check through your life and ask God to search your heart for any thing which hinders your fellowship with Him. Again concentrating for five minutes is NOT a problem for any one. Then for the next five minutes take a small portion of the Bible and read it quietly with a prayerful attitude. If you try to stretch longer time for reading and for prayer mind will wander unknowingly. Now that you are timing your activities there is less temptation to wander. Then use the next five minutes to go through the same passage trying to answer three basic questions. Observation questions like who, what and where etc. Then interpretation question like why it is said like this. Lastly application question like how can I practice this truth today in my life. Use the notebook to answer these questions.
Since you are timing each of your activities, and since it is only for five minutes each, you can’t easily lose your concentration. Then take the next five minutes to pray for two prayer points. Take another five minutes to pray for another two prayer points. After every five minutes of prayer, you are going to open your eyes and look for new prayer points from your note book. So divide the twenty or thirty minutes of your prayer time in to five minute slots and if you do this for about three weeks regularly you will find that it will kind of become an automatic process with you.
Kneeling to read and to pray will give you a better atmosphere for prayer and it will also help you to concentrate because while kneeling you are humbling yourself in the presence of the Almighty and in His awesome presence. Why don’t you try this out and respond to me after a month or so? If you want to read further about developing a meaningful prayer life you can go to. www.mathewpaul.org . May the Lord bless you and may you have a powerful prayer life for His glory. Amen.