Happy Monday, friends! I wanted to hop on the blog today and tell you about something I discovered a few weeks ago that has really helped my mind stay focused during church!
Do you ever find your mind wandering to lunch plans, the week ahead, and Susie’s new haircut during the sermon? I have always been a notetaker, but recently, my pastor hasn’t had an outline or even a fill-in-the-blank section on the back of the bulletin. It’s left me a little susceptible to the day-dreaming. (We can all be honest here, right?)
I took my prayer journal with me to church one Sunday in January, thinking I could pray and meditate on my verse for the day during announcements. I read over the prayer requests in the bulletin and transferred them to my journal also… because, usually, the bulletin gets lost or chucked as soon as we get to our house.
I was so glad I did this. I didn’t know the title of the message, but I was wading through some deep-seeded pain at the time, and this sermon brought me back to the Word and reminded me of God’s goodness despite the hurt I was facing. As Christians, our pain should always be a catalyst that draws us close to the Lord. Maybe you have some tender wounds that you are trying to avoid. Maybe they’re getting you down and taking you to an unhealthy place. If that’s you today, let you soul bathe in this truth today:
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
As the pastor began the sermon, I felt convicted about some things. I wrote those in the confession section. As he brought out passages that left me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, I wrote those in the praise section. As people came to my mind (I wish my brother could be here– this sermon would be good for him!) (and other such atrocities that we think during church instead of self-reflecting), I wrote them in the prayer request section. I jotted down names to pray for in light of the sermon or passage. And, as the sermon closed with personal application questions, I wrote these in the make me more like You section.
As an example, I’ll share what a page in my prayer journal looked like following the sermon. (You can listen to the sermon From Pain to Hope on Lamentations 3.)
praise: Thankful for hope! Thank You, Jesus, that Your mercies are new every morning. Thank You for loving me unceasingly, with my bad breath and bedhead and bad attitude. Thank You that Your affection for me is not dependent on my performances. You love me! Period.
confession: I often feel without hope. I often feel like collapse is happening around me. I’m sorry that I allow my security to be in the state of my house, or the behavior of my child or husband. I’m sorry that You have seen me lose hope and cave to depression and forget Your goodness.
make me more like You: Shift my hope to YOU ALONE. Take my eyes from my disappointments or to-do list or failuures. Root my hope in You– because YOU ARE GOOD. Even though I am not. Help me release the ineffective hopes and methods that don’t deliver. May You be “the only Thing on my plate.”
Obviously, there are a million ways you could take notes on Sunday morning. There are lots of resources out there that are specifically created to take sermon notes and study a passage of Scripture (find my favorite here and here). But, if you can’t afford to have a different journal for each thing, OR if you like to have everything all in one place, this is a good option!
Do ya’ll have any other ideas for how to keep your mind focused during sermons and teaching? Comment below and share your tips with us!
Cara Cobble Trantham is a freelance writer whose passion is to encourage women of all ages to draw closer to the Lord. She lives in Greeneville, Tennessee, with her husband and one-year-old daughter. She loves to send cards in magazine envelopes, counsel ladies over sugar and cream (with a little bit of coffee), and read a good book at the beach. Her bucket list includes eating pizza in Chicago, staying at a bed and breakfast in Savannah, and following a recipe without leaving out an ingredient.