However old we are, entire generation pretty much got exposed to the influence of social media together. Parents are children, bureaucrats and authorities, politicians and peasants – we all entered the digital age in the past couple of decades. We are all pushing the limits and looking where the boundary should be. Church fathers and teachers are in the same boat. If you do not know the boundaries yourself, how can you guide others? Everyone used it and misused it one way or the other. There is a difference when Church approached printing technology. Reverend Nick Baines says,a the cusp of “invention of the printing press we (Church) were proactive; with the advent of social media, I think, we are being reactive”. Church was in the forefront when printing technology came. In the age of social media, church has taken a back seat.
If you find yourself struggling to pray because of a short attention span, constant frustration with people, or preoccupation with trivial things, here are some steps that you can take to rid yourself from your addiction to technology and reconnect with the Lord in our prayers.
Take a one month off from the Internet as Entertainment
We can change any habit in 30 days. A TED talk speaker Matt Cutts describes a break through he had made in his life by giving himself 30-day challenges. If there is a change you need to make in your life, then, challenge yourself to try it for a month. We can conquer the habit and change it for good in 30 days. Try this with social media.
Don’t Check Social Media Until You Have Prayed
For our purposes, this means stay off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever social media draws your attention until you have spent time in prayer.
Hide the People Who Anger You
You can hide people who annoy or anger you by unfriending, unfollowing, or muting. Just do it!Nothing will happen that cannot be easily solved.
Cut the Cord Completely if You Have To
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that we should tear out our eyes and cut off our hands if they cause us to sin. Jesus uses hyperbole in this passage to remind us that we should take serious pains in our struggle against sin because it is better to go without something than to encounter the judgment of God.
Remember the Beauty of communion with God
Psalm 131 paints a beautiful picture that I cannot get out of my head. David says, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Think about all of the controversies, trials, and dangers that David faced. Many times, his life was in danger. Often the danger came from people he loved most. Yet, he says that his soul is quieted and calmed before the Lord, like a child in his mother’s lap.
Take a Walk and Remember the Beauty of the Created Order
Completely disconnect with devices and get outside. When we do, we encounter God’s handiwork everywhere we turn. Leave your phone in your pocket and don’t stop to take pictures. Simply let yourself be overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s world.
Before sending messages, respond in frustration, or tweet, consider the following:
- Will this ultimately glorify me or God?
- Will this stir or muffle healthy affections for Christ?
- Will this merely exalt myself that I know something that others don’t?
- Will this misrepresent me or is it authentic?
- Will this potentially breed jealousy in others?
- Will this fortify unity or stir up unnecessary division?
- Will this build up or tear down? Will this heap guilt or relieve it?
- Will this fuel lust for sin or warn against it?
- Will this over promise and instill false hopes in others?
St. Paul says in Galatians 5:13“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”If you use your freedom as a Christian to sin, you will find yourselves a slave to the very sin that Christ set you free from to begin with.I know this is very hard – we have to make radical commitment to walk with God.
We can all pray together – “Lord, let no corrupting talk come off my fingertips, but only what is good for building up, as fits the occasion, so that my social-media engagement will give grace to those who see it.”
Long before the emergence of digital cameras measured by megapixels and smartphone screens measured in gigapixels, scripture was vigilant to focus our attention on things unseen. As St. Paul said in Col. 3:1–2“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. Again, he says in 2 Cor 5:7 “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”. He adds in 2 Cor. 4:18 “We walk by faith, not by sight”.
Our challenge in the digital age is two-fold – one external and other is internal. In the external challenge we are challenged to restrain our use of smartphones. On the Internal front we are seeking to satisfy our hearts with spirituality. It is not impossible. Many have done that. Online allurements will always be with us, in a flood of cheap temptations, sexually charged images, and lurid ads. We must, instead, fill our hearts to the brim with glory of God to get past the digital garbage. Every technology requires limits; every gadget can be used or abused; every freedom has boundaries; and the smartphone is no exception. If you find the smartphone is necessary for your life and calling, put clear regulators in place. Discerning boundaries, courage of self-discipline and total trust in God’s help will make it happen.