I was talking with a friend the other day about prayer, and she shared a great idea, one that got me thinking about harnessing technology for Christ. Faced with a negative diagnosis from a doctor, she decided to take time each day to pray for healing. Because she is on the go most of the time, she decided set an alert on her phone that would remind her to pray daily and confess some healing scriptures over her physical body. Once she prays, she turns off the alert until the next day. She plans to do this until she is healed.
What a great use of her phone, I thought. She is making technology work for her, not against her. In a time where we are never out of reach of our phones and tech, I wondered, how else can we harness the power of technology to work for us, not against us?
One of the main goals of technology is to increase productivity. A worthy goal, to be sure. A secondary goal - one that is often marketed to consumers - is to make our lives easier.
The great irony of technology, however, is that what promises to simplify life or bring us peace can actually end up making us feel overwhelmed. Many of the apps I download to my phone require more maintenance than I care to give! Constant global connectivity, while beneficial in many ways, also takes a toll on us as finite human beings, one that we are not as quick to notice because we are so caught up in it. For the believer, "constant connection" to anything other than Christ is not a good goal.
For example, my husband had trouble connecting to the internet this week on his phone. It had worked before, but he just couldn't connect now. A quick trip to the Sprint store revealed that his profile and several other settings had not updated properly. Ten minutes with a manager fixed the problem. Suddenly, his once-quiet phone began dinging, ringing, and making a ridiculous amount of noise - which after several hours I asked him to please turn off!
Biblical productivity is tied to one thing alone, and that is abiding in Christ. Jesus says: "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5, emphasis mine). I may carry the latest and greatest technology in my pocket, but if I am not connecting to Jesus, I am not going to produce at maximum output. Anything that keeps me from abiding in Him is bound to be counter-productive.
The Way of Peace
"The world's energy," says a pastor friend of mine, "is directed at moving us out of our place of stillness and rest in God." I believe we can take this a step farther and say that the noise of the world regularly stirs our souls to a near state of emergency which we are not designed to maintain. I want to be stirred up in faith, not in fear or crisis. (See 2 Timothy 1:6).
The nightly news tends to stir up anxiety and stress about things over which I have no control. It is not wrong to be informed, but when that information is stealing your joy and peace, it's time to limit what you are watching.
One of Jesus' commands to us in John 14 is "Let not your heart be troubled or afraid." (John 14:2). As technology advances, how can we preserve the peace Christ has promised us? As the noise of our lives increases, how can we stay in the place of stillness?
Years ago, the Lord impressed on me the importance of observing a weekly Sabbath - a rest from life's busyness. The day is not important - it can be a Saturday or a Thursday - but what is important is that I pull away from the things that tend to distract me or add to my stress, and draw closer to a place of rest and peace in Him.
I have noticed, over time, that three things in particular that steal my peace: my work, which piles up quickly; people's demands for my time and energy; and technology, especially my phone and computer. I am learning to disconnect from these three things more intentionally in order to connect with and abide in Christ.
Christ came to give us peace. There is a wonderful scripture in the gospel of Luke that prophesies Christ as the One who will "guide our feet into the way of peace." (See Luke 1:19). In fact, in the Kingdom of God, there is to be "no end" to the increase of Christ's government and His peace. I want to be acquainted enough with the way of peace that I can also lead others to find it.
Practical Plans for Peace
Like my friend with her prayer alerts, I need to find practical ways to keep peace in my daily life. Here are some things that have worked for me:
- Turn off non-essential notifications on your phone. It's amazing how much peace I have gained by taking this one practical step! Choose one or two set times each day to check and respond to your emails, and turn off all the noisy notifications. This is a classic time management skill, but it also minimizes the amount of stress that accumulates throughout your day. The only notifications I "urgently" need are texts from my family. Everything else can wait.
-Set positive, intentional phone alerts (like my friend) to remind yourself to pray, worship, or get into the Presence of God. Make a quality decision to start your day abiding in Christ. He is the source of our greatest productivity!
-Turn off the TV. Instead of listening to another negative newscast, enjoy dinner with your family and talk about your day. Our family has one day a week we call "family day." If we don't have plans to go out, we typically rent a movie we all would enjoy - commercial free - and share a meal and dessert together. By being deliberate about what we are watching, we avoid the "information overload" that is typical when families spend too much time in front of the tube. Most nights, you'll find us reading, talking, or -*gasp!*- even praying; activities that allow time to process what we are learning.
-Set aside a day of rest for yourself. Ideally, make it a tech-free day. Use the time to study, read, worship, nap, or pursue a hobby that you otherwise would not have time for. If, like me, you have a hard time sitting in the house when there's work to be done, get outside into nature and slow down to a more sustainable pace, or find a quiet place to do a mini-retreat.
-In social settings, put away your phone or tablet. If we want to win souls for Christ, we need to take the time to actually connect with them, without interruptions. Constantly checking your device during a conversation increases your stress and makes the other person feel devalued. I sincerely doubt that any Secretary of State would whip out his cell phone in the midst of a Middle-East peace negotiation! We, likewise, are ambassadors for Christ, negotiating peace daily with the people around us. If we can't even make sustained eye contact, we don't stand a chance as evangelists.
-What ideas do YOU have for taking back technology for Christ? I'd love to hear what works for you. If you're reading this and have a good idea, send it to me here. I may publish these ideas in a later post so we can all benefit from what you've learned.
One Final Question...
John Wesley, the famed co-founder of the Methodist church, belonged to a group called the "Holy Club." He and the others asked themselves 22 questions as part of their daily devotions. One of them was: "Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?" When technology is enslaving us, it is time to take back control. Let Christ be the source of your productivity, the center of your peace. He is the only unbroken connection you'll ever really need.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions. All Biblical references NKJV unless noted.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.