What is a distraction?
- Something that draws away or diverts the mind or attention
- Anything that divides the attention, or prevents concentration
- One of the most commonly faced obstacles to meaningful and consistent quiet time
How do we go about combating quiet time distractions?
First, we need to understand that experiencing distractions during our quiet time is natural.
Distractions are not bad things. They are not wrong. That fact that we experience them does not make us a failure.
When we go to our quiet time only to be assaulted over and over again by distractions, it’s easy to throw our hands up and give up. We just can’t do this. We’re a failure — again. Score one for Satan. Consistent, meaningful quiet time thwarted.
Rather than giving up. Instead of surrendering the battle ground. We need a plan — a plan for combating those distractions successfully when they arrive – and they will arrive.
Combating Quiet Time Distractions
Below are some ideas for creating your Quiet Time Distraction Plan:
Prepare ahead – If you enjoy morning quiet times, prepare for them the night before by getting all of your materials ready.
Scout out a well-suited location – Choose a spot for your quiet time that is as free from distraction as possible. For instance, there is a grandfather clock in my living room. I am SO easily distracted by the tick-tock, tick-tock of that clock that I know this is NOT a good place for me to be focused. Instead, I choose to enjoy my time with God out on the back patio completely away from the clock.
Turn off the technology – Before settling down to your quiet time, be sure your phone is silenced. For many it’s a good idea to even physically remove ourselves from things like phones, iPads, computers, and TVs.
You say, “But there’s an app on my phone I need to access for my quiet time.” Okay, then be sure to mute your phone so you are not distracted. One word of caution though – if you, like me, are easily tempted to “just check something quickly” and then find you are sucked up in scrolling and scanning, be honest with yourself. Make the proactive decision to find an alternative to the app and leave your phone in another room.
Keep a notepad handy – As things pop into your mind during your quiet time, simply write them down (things you need to do, errands you need to run, items for your grocery list, a card you need to send, someone you need to pray for). Acknowledge the distractions, jot them down, and return your attention to your quiet time. Then you have a written list of items to deal with later.
Tune out the noise – If it is not possible to move to a location with zero to minimal noise distraction, try using ear plugs, or noise-cancelling headphones.
Take a walk – Fresh air and exercise are always good. But walking as you pray, reflect, or meditate on Scripture engages your body and helps to keep you focused. Go for a walk at your nearby park, prayer walk your neighborhood, or walk your yard. If you can’t get outside, try walking through your home or pacing.
Hydrate – It is difficult to focus when our body has needs. (Ever watch a middle school aged student try to sit for an extended period of time? They get the wiggles. Constantly get up and down. Finally, they get to a point where it is completely impossible for them to attend.)
Take a hint from the young ones. Make yourself comfortable before you begin. Take care of needs. If you intend to spend more than a few minutes of alone time with God on a particular day, be sure to have water and possibly a snack on hand.
Check your posture – Before entering into your quiet time whether it is a period of devotions and prayer, Bible study, self-reflection or solitude, take a few minutes to properly posture yourself before the Lord. You might choose to do this by getting comfortable (not too comfortable – smile), taking a couple of deep breaths, consciously letting go of tasks and responsibilities, picturing yourself seated across the table from God, or observing a few moments of total silence before beginning.
Prepare your heart – Consider beginning your time with some nobody’s-home, belt-it-out singing.
Get a new perspective – Try reading your chosen passage of Scripture from an unfamiliar version of the Bible. Wording differences, even subtle ones, require focused attention.
Talk to yourself – We’re pretty good at paying attention to ourselves. Combat quiet time distractions by reading Scripture aloud, rephrasing what you read, repeating truths you are learning, or talking through what you are wrestling with.
Pray out loud – It’s harder for your mind to wander off aimlessly when you pray out loud. And there’s another benefit to praying out loud. Satan cannot read our minds. When we pray out loud, he can hear it!
Pray in color – Engage your hands, keep your mind from wandering, and provide focus by praying in color. If you’ve never tried it, you can learn more about it in this blog post, A Grandma Who Prays in Color, or by visiting Sybil MacBeth’s site, Praying in Color. This technique is also a wonderful tool for attending to Scripture. Read more about it in the post, Praying in Color: Pray the Scriptures.
Combine practices – Combat quiet time distractions by engaging more fully – combine the spiritual practices. Combine reading the Bible with prayer by praying Scripture. Do some serious soul reflecting while observing a time of solitude. Journal your prayers, your thoughts and reflections as you read the Bible, or your personal soul reflections.
Make the fight personal – Through an act of determination, commit to:
- Creating a personal plan for combating quiet time distractions.
- Giving yourself the grace to readjust the plan when needed and to keep going.
- Not letting Satan win this battle.
Remember, quiet time distractions are natural. They are not a bad thing nor are they wrong. Rather than beating ourselves up over them or, even worse, giving up on our time alone with God altogether, we need to make a plan – a plan for tackling them successfully.
Consider your personality, your unique wiring then devise your plan. If your plan doesn’t fit quite right at first, give yourself permission to tweak it. Need variety? Build it into your plan. And establish some check points along the way – once a year, every six months, quarterly. Our life seasons change. Our plan may need to change also.
God’s greatest desire is to spend time with you. He wants to have a relationship with you and for you to know Him. Don’t allow distractions to get in the way. Create a plan for combating quiet time distractions and go enjoy some sweet, sweet alone time with your Savior.