If we can never be truly alone with God, then we are robbed of our intimacy with Him. The same is true in any relationship: if my wife and I stop spending time alone together, our connection will begin to fade and whither. If I don’t spend 1-on-1 time with my children, I will not know them, nor they me.
Focused time alone together is the essence of quality relationship-building. In my previous post, I declared the web – that cellular and satellite-based network of constant connectivity – as the #1 thief of our intimacy with God today. It robs us of our focused time alone with Him!
I’m not anti-technology. I am SO thankful for phones, for the internet, for facebook and twitter and blogs and voicemail! As an American living in West Africa, I am SOOO grateful that all of my loved ones are just a dial-tone or a mouse-click away!
But sometimes, I have to lay aside the blessings of God in order to enjoy and commune with God Himself.
That means if I want to give God just 5 minutes of my full, undisturbed attention, I have to switch the gadgets OFF. I have to take the cell phone and pager out of my pockets, and put them away. I have to logout of facebook. I have close down my email program. I have to pry myself away from the spider’s web of connectivity that constantly surrounds and entangles me, and give that attention – that focus – that devotion of my full connectivity – to Him.
Here are 7 small, realistic, easy, manageable ways to disconnect from the web in order to reconnect with God:
1. Keep a Bible in the space where you work, permanently. I’m talking about a copy of the real, physical book – made out of paper and ink – not a web-based or digital copy of the Bible. Next, set an alarm for a certain time of day that is typically not tied up in meetings, phone calls, etc. For me, an ideal time is 3:00pm. Everyday, when that alarm goes off, push back from your desk, pull over your car, step out of your department and into the break room – whatever applies to your working situation – and read just one chapter of the Bible. That’s it. Just one Psalm or Proverb – or just one chapter from one of the Gospels – I’m talking 5 minutes, max. Then go back to work. See? You can do that!
2. Set aside a 10-minute window of time when you won’t answer your phone. Determine a time each day where you are unavailable by phone, text, pager, or instant message. For me, it’s not enough to just set the phone down and will myself to ignore all of its little buzzes and chirps. I have to either turn it completely OFF, or set it down and walk into a different room. There should be at least 10 minutes a day where you are completely unavailable to everyone but God. Don’t worry – you have voicemail. Even if it’s an emergency, you are no more than 10 minutes away from receiving the message! It’s worth the risk to invest even just a small amount of focused time with your Heavenly Father each day.
3. When you’re NOT on-call, DON’T be on-call! Don’t carry your work pager or phone around with you when you don’t have to! When you’re on-call for work, be on-call. But when you’re NOT, put those work connections away and RELAX. Laugh, play, sleep in, do nothing! After you go through the withdrawals of not being connected, start talking to God: tell Him about your day, what you’re looking forward to, what you’re dreading, how you need Him, where you’ve seen Him at work around you. No itemized agenda necessary here – just talk with Him. Make conversation and enjoy His Presence alone for 10 minutes.
4. Write down a Bible verse that you want to memorize on an index card, and stick it in your pocket. Or put it in the top spot on your wallet or purse – or tape it to the back of your cell phone. The idea here is to put it somewhere prominent on your person, so that every time you touch it or see it all throughout your day, you’ll be reminded of that Scripture. Quoting leads to memorization, and memorization leads to meditation. Eventually, you will just feel the edge of the card in your pocket or on the back of your phone, and – without even looking at it! – you’ll find yourself thinking about that verse you’ve been quoting and memorizing. Replace the card with a new one each week.
5. Start your day with an upbeat, joyful song of worship. You know how music is: you hear a song like “Ice, Ice Baby” on the radio in the morning, and then it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the day! Rather than letting the local radio DJ choose which song will get stuck in your head today, YOU choose it! I try to be intentional about the last song I hear before I arrive at work each day. I often find myself – even subconsciously – humming, whistling, or singing that tune all the way up until lunchtime and beyond!
6. Partner up with another believer who wants to reconnect with God. Hold each other accountable. Call each other during the other’s 10-minute-long “no-phone window” (#2 above) and see if they answer! Quote the verses you’ve been memorizing to each other. Encourage each other by sharing the outcomes of your little times of conversation with God.
7. Set aside 1 full day each week to stay off the internet completely. Yeah, I had to throw at least 1 challenging one at you! Just try it ONCE, and you’ll be hooked! Fast from email and facebook one day a week. You will be AMAZED at how freeing it is, and by how much extra time you realize you have! You should not be available to everyone at all times. That produces a level of stress that we simply cannot sustain over the long haul. We have to make ourselves unavailable every so often – ideally, once per week – to refuel, recharge, refresh for another week of being available to people. The wise lumberjack takes time to sharpen his axe.
What would you suggest? How do you sneak in little breaks with God throughout your day/week? What practices have worked for you to make sure technology doesn’t sabotage all of your attention away from investing in your relationship with God?