How to pay attention to what you are reading

June 12, 2012 — 3 Comments

When you read, is it sometimes just a blur?


Sometimes when I read scripture, I have a hard time slowing down and really paying attention to what God is saying in the passage.  It might be a familiar section and I already know what it says. Or maybe I’m distracted and my mind is somewhere else. Either way,  by the time I get to the end of the passage, it’s pretty much a blur.

That’s a problem because the reason I read God’s word is so I can be reminded of His truth and wisdom and grace, and carry that with me into my day. After all, what’s the point of reading something if it doesn’t stick with me? It’s not like God has a reading chart with my name on it where He checks off what I’ve read and then gives me a gold star.

This happens more often than I’d like, and over the years, I’ve struggled to let God’s message sink down into my heart.  So last week, I was happy when I remembered a simple way to slow down and pay attention. I was reading Psalm 91 on my laptop, and I decided to rewrite what I was reading into a prayer of thanks.  Here’s some of what I typed in, one verse after another.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Thank You that You are a refuge. I praise You that You are a God of refuge and shelter for those in distress.

This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I trust Him.
Thank You that You are worthy of my trust. I praise You for Your faithfulness.

For He will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with His feathers.
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Thank You for Your promises that You fulfill in Your time. I praise You for Your loving care that looks ahead and tells us the good things that You will give us.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Thank You that I do not have to be afraid–of terrors or arrows, of disease or disaster.

When I finished the psalm, I realized I not only had read God’s word, I had experienced it. As I took the time to respond, affirming each verse, my heart was able to absorb the words. Because I’m a visual person, I think it helped that I wrote out my response, so I could see it. If you’re auditory, you might find it better to say your response out loud.

If any of you have other ways to get God’s word into your heart, I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

3 responses to How to pay attention to what you are reading


    I LOVE this idea, Annie! I can see how writing scripture as a prayer would help me experience and understand it better. Thanks for sharing!
    I also liked what we practiced in Sarah Arthur’s group at FFW. That is something I’d like to do more as well.


    As a reading program this year I decided to read through the NT chronologically, starting with Galatians. Read that slowly, paraphrasing Paul’s thoughts on paper, then read great teachers online, Mt. Henry and Spurgeon being the best. Got caught on Christ being the end of the law for righteousness – of course, but then why the law? More Spurgeon. Why would God give us something we couldn’t do, then punish us for not doing it??? Unfair?!!
    So then to Jeremiah; with something specific and deeply interesting to look for it became rich, deep, satisfying. God’s heart is breaking because his people are not looking for him; not that they are not keeping the letter of the law, but are following things that are notGod in their hearts.
    “My tent is destroyed,
    and all my cords are broken;
    my children have gone from me,
    and they are not;
    there is no one to spread my tent again
    and to set up my curtains.
    For the shepherds are stupid,
    and do not inquire of the Lord;
    therefore they have not prospered,
    and all their flock is scattered. Jer. 10:20 21

    So I came to see the heart of God for his people, then, and us, now, not to say Hi to him, while pursuing other loves, but to love him first, last, and in between. After all, it’s in Jeremiah that He says, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. And Dt 6:4: Shema, Israel. Hear, O Israel: …You shall love the Lord your God… Precious.

    Blessings for listening, T


    Thanks for your both of your comments. Both are great ideas for taking in more of what God is trying to say to us. To read slowly and ponder; and to trace themes through scripture back and forth like a shuttle weaving. It makes a beautiful tapestry in our hearts.

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