Ah, yes, the standard church service. The time when the body of Christ comes together to study the Word and consider spiritual matters. During this time, we quiet our hearts and minds and meditate on the Lord’s love for us.
If only it were that easy.
Church is absolutely teeming with distractions. The fussy baby behind you. The fellow saints who shuffle in late (I’m guilty of this, so I can’t really throw stones here). The motorcycle that speeds by loudly outside. If your church is anything like mine, you may have a time of reflection before the official service begins. As they feel lead, the men stand up and share thoughts pertaining to the events at Calvary. This is wonderful until you’re in the middle of an intense prayer session and someone pops up out of the clear blue to share the scriptures, effectively throwing off your groove. Now, I can’t cast all blame on external forces. I’m a very easily distracted person. My mind can go from whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable to Josh Groban’s Twitter feed in seconds. Admittedly, I tend to shut my brain down when I feel like the information isn’t directly applicable to my life. What to do, what to do?
All jokes aside, if focus isn’t your strongest suit, I’ve got some tips for you to stay present with the Lord during times like these.
- Plan ahead. Study up on future sermons. Is your church going through a particular book of the Bible? Is there a certain topic your church is exploring, such as the fruits of the spirit, or handling current issues as a Christian? Familiarize yourself with the content, it’ll get you invested. Concerning quiet times (if your church practices this), I like to try to have a specific prayer topic in mind. Have you thanked the Lord for His offer of salvation lately? If not, now’s a good time to start! Be open to where He may direct your heart, of course. I just find that it helps to stay focused when I have a plan of action, or even somewhere to start.
- Practice your note taking and utilize the tools at your disposal. The sage wisdom of note taking. It’s an excellent way to stay focused. Some speakers may provide outlines of their sermons, which is a great aid, so utilize them. However, if outlines are not available, nothing beats your notes. Writing things in your own words makes it all the more personal. As an added bonus, studies have shown that when people take notes, they retain the information for a longer amount of time. As if that wasn’t enough, many churches these days record their sermons and make them available to the public via the Internet. Even if you miss something, the information is still there for you. Handy!
- Inquire of the Lord. We can’t accomplish anything without the Lord’s help. Continually seek Him out. Ask Him to give you focus and a desire to draw near to Him. When you find your mind wandering, take your thoughts captive, and ask Him to rope you back in – He will every time.
With all this being said, I must admit that I’m preaching to myself. As stated before, I’m a very easily distracted person. All the emphasis goes to point number 3. Focus is a skill that requires much practice. But if the Lord requires it of us (Colossians 3:2), surely He will provide what we need in order to achieve it (John 14:26).