Stone Soup for Five: build focus + a method for Psalm meditation

build focus + a method for Psalm meditation

 biblical meditation, psalm meditation, bible study, bible, bible journal, Christian meditation

Back at the beginning of March (it seems like a lifetime ago, when life was normal and COVID-19 was something happening somewhere else), we talked about what biblical meditation is, what the Bible says about it, and gave the illustration of leaning into the scriptures like leaning into a fire.

Then we talked about one of the biggest challenges most of us have with biblical meditation: distraction.  Distraction with screens, distraction with family, and distractions within our own minds that won't be quiet.

Then COVID hit hard in the US and I shared some honest struggles I was having with meditation in the midst of crisis when it seems that focusing on the Bible is the last place I need to focus (but in actuality is the MAIN place to focus).

In this post I want to talk about HOW to focus when everything is changing so fast and everyone is shouting for your attention.  (It's crazy that the survey I sent out was before the shutdowns and social distancing started.  If we were having focus problems then, they're even worse now.  We need this more than ever.)

How do you focus in the midst of upheaval?  How do you focus when the normal is gone and everything has changed?  I have no previous experience with a pandemic, but the same solutions that helped before are helping me now... if I keep trying to apply them.  I still have some good days and some train-wreck days.

The biggest help to me in any time of life (young toddlers, busy homeschool days, the COVID crisis) was and still is to use the pomodoro method.  I can do anything for 15-25 minutes.  I can shut off the world if only for a short time to get some focused work done.  In fact, I started a timer right now to sit down and write this post, when really I'd rather be reading all the headlines.

You can set your work/focus time to any length. I've experimented with 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes of break and even switched that around on rough days.  Right now I've found a confortable and do-able schedule of 25 minutes of focus and 10 minutes of a break works well, even if I only do it once a day.

For work this week, I'm focusing on just doing two pomodoros a day and I'll count that a success.  Next week I'll try for 3 a day and see how that goes.

Another big help is memorizing something.  There is something about forcing my mind to calm down and think orderly about something.  Working on a memory project helps.  Sometimes that is trying to say it in my head while I'm doing monotonous work.  But usually it's as simple as writing out the verse as I'm drinking my coffee in the morning.  I also really enjoy the Bible Memory app.

I've memorized verses, poems, and the first part of the gospel poem from The Gospel Primer.
Whatever you choose, memorize something, however small.

Another way to increase your focus is to just start reading paper books again.  One of my son's teachers from years ago encouraged us to build our reading stamina by reading for a little longer each session.  Perhaps right now you can only make it through 10 or 15 minutes (or 2 or 3 pages).  Do that and build up adding another 5 minutes (or page) as you build your stamina.

For Christmas I got a pour over coffee set. I love it because it makes delicious coffee and it's a slow habit.  I have to sit at the counter and slowly add hot water as it drips into my cup.  I do this first thing in the morning and use that time to think, write out what I'm thankful for.  Instead of rushing through making a keurig cup of coffee, I'm forced to slow down and enjoy making the coffee and the time it takes.   Other slow habits: start a garden, draw or paint, go on a walk, tend to your yard.



This method is my favorite way to work through the Psalms!  Read through a psalm (or part of one) then write out your thoughts for each of the following prompts in light of the psalm you read.

1.  What am I thankful for in light of this psalm?
2.  What is a truth about God in light of this psalm?
3.  What is a truth or probing question about me in light of this psalm?
4.  What request can I make to God in light of this?
5.  So what?  How should this change me today?

Example from Psalm 40:1-5.

1.  Thankful:  I'm so thankful that You incline to me and hear me.  I'm so thankful that "many are Thy thoughts toward us," and that there are none who compare with You.

2.  Truth about God: He brings us up out of the pit of destruction (not my own effort, not my instruction to my boys). HE does it.  He sets my feet (and my boy's feet) upon a rock, He puts a new song in my (and their) mouth.

3.  Truth about meAm I waiting patiently for the Lord?  Or am I trying to do God's job?  Am I trying to lift myself and others out of clay, make footsteps firm, and put a new song in my mouth?  The only action the Psalmist does in this psalm is wait patiently for the Lord.  What does patient waiting look like?  I know what non-patient waiting looks like, it looks like me doing the Lord's job in these verses... and failing miserably.  (While writing this, it reminded me of a quote in my prayer binder: "Waiting is a permanent continuance in the performance of duties against all difficulties and discouragement." -John Calvin)

4.  Request:  Lord, help me wait patiently.  Put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise instead of a song of worry or frustration.  Help it shine through me so many will see and fear and trust in You.

5.  Application:  Talk less, pray more, trust the Lord to do what He says He will do, in His time and in His way.

Learn together:

Here on the blog I have a tab at the top labeled COMMUNITY.  I encourage you to go to that tab and share with us how it went, what you learned, or what you thought of this method.  Look for the topic of Biblical Meditation then click on it and find "Psalm Meditation method."  Here we can encourage and learn from each other!  If you try this method, I'd love to hear how it went for you!

Previous posts in this series:

Find biblical meditation method (super simple summary) here.
Find method two (3 questions) here.


  1. What is "The Gospel Primer" you are talking about?

  2. WOW, batching is new to me and extremely PROFOUND - Thanks

  3. These are wonderful ideas. One the book note, my husband & I started listening to Robinson Carouse & were very impressed with the book. We are kinda in the same situation as he is with the lock down & it shows the depravity of human nature of how he didn't bring God into the situation & what happened when he got right with God.


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