my anti-social prayer experiment

Several friends have confessed lately to feeling  “spiritually numb.”   Being numb is the opposite of being alert.  And when we’re not alert, it’s hard to hear God, right?   Here are some powerful thoughts from my friend Ashley  in response to the question: “What keeps you from being ALERT for prayer?”

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).

For the past several years, the Lord has beckoned me deeper and deeper into a more intimate relationship with Him. Before I had kids, I would wake up at 6am just to meet with Him and His Word, and I loved to pray during my 45 minute commute to work. After having kids I would long for naptime, a good cup of tea, and an hour in Word and prayer.

Earlier this year I felt such a distance from the Lord, and sensed a lack of depth in my relationship with Him. I did not understand why.  I go to church, I serve, I read the Word, but my prayer life was in the pits. I made excuses. I have three small children, I’m exhausted, my baby girl still wakes up at night, I can’t even clean my house, so how can I find time to pray? And that is just it–God doesn’t want me to fit him into my day. He doesn’t want me to clock in and clock out or check him off my list. He says pray without ceasing. That means don’t stop.

So I tried a little experiment, what I called “anti-social.”   One  month.  No Facebook.   No Instagram.   No Pinterest. What I learned was, since getting my smart phone last year, I replaced all my quiet, reflective moments of the day with media.  Nursing my baby, waiting in the car, awake for no reason at 3am–these moments were filled with my phone on. I even started checking Facebook constantly and uploading pictures on Instagram obsessively instead of actually enjoying the gift of that time with my family. Take away the idol of media–including TV–and suddenly I have time to pray and just enjoy rare quiet moments with the Lord.

At first, it was really uncomfortable and boring, and I felt like I missed out on people’s lives.   But I soon discovered what slavery I have been under, and was reminded once again that authentic living is living daily in Him. And I am a better friend, wife, daughter, and mom because instead of viewing lives from a screenshot, the Lord prompts me to pray, invest, text encouragement, meet with, and go deeper.

I have since been “socialized” again, but with lots of limits. I started keeping books on my phone, as well as Scripture, so if I have a long nursing session at night I am filling my mind with something that draws me to Christ and encourages me to pray. There are apps I have to avoid all together, because I am too tempted to waste precious time. And I’ve begun thanking God for sweet, pic worthy moments before I ever snap the picture, because he is the author of all things good.

I’ve stopped trying to post all the crazy, funny, sweet things my kids say or do.  Instead, I  talk with the Lord about it, and when I do post it’s usually long after the moment has passed.  I’ve had to retrain myself to be the person I was pre-smartphone, but it has been worth it for me. It sounds silly to say that posting on Facebook had become a prayer-stealer for me.  But I think the enemy of our faith tries to use anything to keep us from an active relationship with our Lord.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (NIV). What is it that hinders your prayer life? What is it that keeps you from fixing your eyes on our Lord? Let the Lord break down these webs and retrain us on how to daily pray without ceasing.

Ashley


9 responses to “my anti-social prayer experiment

  • bunnyb1802

    This is just what I needed to hear. Even my husband asked me once when I was going to “put that phone down” and talk to him! Not good. It’s subtle and invasive. It is a prayer stealer. That doesn’t mean that social media is bad but, as you point out, it’s amazing what the enemy will do with something meant to be fun in order to get us away from Jesus.

    Think I’m going to have to try this.
    Thank you so much

  • marilynnchadwick

    You and me both. Thanks for your comment. I think the author, my friend Ashley, was spot on. You might be intrigued to know that she and her husband and soon to be four small children have been accepted for full time missionary work in Japan. Look out when we start listening to God:)

  • adailydoseofhisgrace

    Thanks for sharing! I believe social media has stolen lots of my time and I intend to regain it back

  • sarahtravis12

    Thank you for sharing Marilynn! This had been on my heart, and your mention of it on the Proverbs 31 OBS Conference Call yesterday confirmed it in my heart. I won’t be doing a month (not at the moment anyway!), but I am going to take a 2 day fast this weekend in order to listen to God’s voice and focus my time on my family :)

  • Nash

    WOW! All I can say is ouch! Over the past month God has been asking me to unplug from Facebook and TV. My heart and mind want to obey but my flesh ends up doing the opposite. I can see with your article that He is not giving up on me. Thank you for posting this.

  • jeaniekelley

    Love this idea of the social media fast. Getting away from the technology and just leaning onto God and his word. Thanks for sharing this today.

  • marilynnchadwick

    Thanks for the comments. Looks like so many of us are struggling with the “numbing” effect of social media. Love hearing your thoughts. Maybe some of you have some ideas on how to set reasonable boundaries. I’m trying to wait until after my morning prayer and Bible time to turn on social media for starters. Any other ideas?

  • Marisa Tompkins

    My life group is reading “Hands Free Mama” by Rachel Macy Stafford. Excellent read on putting down the cell phone, email, and to-do list and focusing on what really matters. It has weekly challenges that are easy and eye opening.
    –Marisa

  • marilynnchadwick

    Great to have a book recommendation that sounds so practical. Thanks, Marisa!

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