A: I suspect almost everyone has had this experience, and I can assure you that the devil must be very pleased when it happens! Perhaps this is one reason why the Bible urges us to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
How can you keep your mind from wandering when you pray or read your Bible? Some people find it helpful to keep a “prayer list” — a list of the people and events for which you’re praying regularly that you can refer to as you pray. (A prayer list can also help you keep track of specific answers to your prayers.) Some people also keep a pen and paper handy as they read the Bible, ready to jot down any truths God is showing them.
The real key, however, is to realize that we are speaking to God when we pray — and God is speaking to us as we read the Bible. If you were invited to meet with a president or a king, I doubt if your mind would wander. How much greater should our concentration be when we enter the presence of the King of Kings! “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
Never forget that prayer is a privilege, and so is the opportunity to hear God speak to us through His Word, the Bible. Give Him the best minutes of your day.
Q: I’ve not been a Christian very long, and the other day someone in my church took me aside and bluntly said I needed to clean up my language. Is he right? I admit it kind of offended me. I don’t see what difference it makes, since everyone talks this way. — R.S.
A: Perhaps your fellow parishioner wasn’t as diplomatic as he might have been, but I’m sure he was concerned about you and wanted to help you, and I hope you’ll be grateful for that. The Bible says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:6).
It’s true that many today think little about the language they’re using, whether it involves blasphemy (using God’s name in an unholy way), obscenity, or simply tearing other people down. But we sometimes forget that our language is a reflection of our inner thoughts, and when we use God’s name (for example) without even thinking about it, it indicates that He means very little to us. Jesus warned, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts ... false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
Don’t take what others do as your standard — whether it involves your speech, your inner thoughts, your actions, or anything else. God calls us to a higher standard because He calls us to be like Christ and to put Him first in our lives. The Bible says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Be grateful that you now belong to Christ. Now make it your goal to live for Him every day — not in your own strength, but with the strength He will give you as you turn to Him. The Bible says, “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.