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distracted by cell phone

My Cell Phone is Stealing My Devotional Time

A Subtle But Effective Spiritual Thief

I got up early this morning specifically so I could spend extra time praying and meditating on the Word, my devotional time.

 

I began with prayer. It went something like this:

 

Father God, thank You for waking me this morning and giving me another day of life. Thank You for all Your blessings: our home and the food You provide.

 

That reminds me, I’m cooking breakfast this morning.  What can I cook? 

Do we have any leftovers? 

I’m really in the mood for waffles but we don’t have any bananas. 

Better add that to my grocery list. {Pull out my phone and add it to my grocery list}

Is there anything else I need to get?  I know we need onions.  Hmm peanut butter, canned tomatoes…

 

Oh.  Oops.  Sorry, Lord.  Where was I?

 

Lord, please be with my son in a special way today.

 

Has he posted anything new on Facebook?  Maybe he messaged me.  I’ll just check so I know if there is anything specific I should pray about today.

 

Whereupon I opened Facebook and lost all track of time until I suddenly realized it was time to fix breakfast.

 

My devotional time had been stolen… again.

 

Has this ever happened to you?

 

It happens to me A LOT!

 

The Benefits of Cell Phones

Modern technology has many benefits.  Not the least of which is cell phones. They have brought the world to our fingertips.  They make staying connected with friends and family so much easier and instantaneous. Plus, I can research anything I need to know on the spot.

 

I can get directions to just about anywhere I want to go. Listen to music, books and play games. Find new restaurants, places to shop, parks, and walking trails.  Take photos, Facetime with family. Keep track of my steps. And so much more.

 

The Negatives of Cell Phones

However, it has also brought a lot of negatives.  Our phones are with us everywhere we go. They allow people to reach us no matter where we are. They have allowed us a view into other people’s curated lives like never before in history.  They are addictive.  We can’t leave home without it.

 

Consequently, we’ve lost access to downtime.  Time when you have nothing to do and no particular place to go.  Quiet time to process, to plan, to create…to pray.

 

A Thousand Ways to Steal Your Time

Unfortunately, cell phones are often the number one method for stealing our devotional time.

 

Facebook, Instagram, text messages, email, phone calls… and a myriad of other apps you have access to.  It makes it extremely hard to shut the world out and focus on communicating with God during your devotional time.  Especially when the only place that you read your Bible is from the app on your phone.

 

“But,” you say, “I want to make my relationship with God my top priority.  I really do!  It’s just it’s so easy to get distracted with my phone.”

 

How Do We Combat It?

So, what can we do?  It’s not like we can just flush it down the toilet or donate it to charity.  How would we work…   or play, for that matter.  How would we keep in touch with family and friends?

 

Let me share some practical tips that have helped me not be so distracted by my phone.

 

1.  Turn off notifications for things like email, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok…all those types of apps.  You can open them up when you have time, outside of your devotional time, and see what’s new.

Surprisingly, you may discover that the world doesn’t come to an end if you don’t read your friend’s Instagram message the second it goes live.

 

2.  Get a physical Bible to read.  Don’t depend on your Bible app on your phone during your devotional time.  This reduces the temptation to check apps that steal your devotional time.

 

3.  Make a pact with yourself that you will not open any apps or check email until you are completely done with your devotional time.  This requires self-control and brutal honesty.

 

It requires self-control because, just like in my prayer at the beginning of this post, your mind (and the devil) will find all kinds of logical reasons you need to open one or more of them.

 

It requires brutal honesty with yourself because our heart can be “deceitfully wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) and self-delusional.

 

So, if you find that, despite your good intentions, you are still opening apps and letting them steal your devotional time, be honest with yourself.  Recognize that you can’t handle having your phone with you during your devotional time.

 

4.  Take drastic measures.  If you recognize your cell phone is constantly stealing your devotional time, leave it on Do Not Disturb and leave it in another room.

 

Be aware you may suffer withdrawal symptoms.  Your brain may obsess with what is going on in apps that you regularly view.

 

You may feel naked and anxious without your phone.  That’s normal.  Pray for God to give you strength and keep you focused.

 

Remember, He wants to meet with you more than you want to meet with Him.  So, He is always ready to work with you in this area.

 

Think about this paraphrase of Matthew 18:8-9:

 

If your cell phone causes you to neglect to spend time with God, turn it off and cast it away from you.  It is better not to be up to date on what is happening in the world or with your friends than to lose out on eternal life because you couldn’t find the time to know God intimately.

Conclusion

Like any habit, it will take time and practice to not allow your phone to steal your devotional time. But prayer and persistence will win in the end.

 

And your relationship with God will reap very tangible benefits when your phone is under control.

 

PS: This applies to your computer or Ipad also.  If you cannot refrain from going on the internet to check things (news, Facebook, email, etc.) you may have to covenant with God to leave your computer/Ipad off until you finish your devotional time.  Or be sure they are in a separate room.

 

Have you recognized any other devotional time stealers? Share with us in the comments below what it is and any tips to combat it.

 

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2 responses to “My Cell Phone is Stealing My Devotional Time”

  1. These are fantastic ideas! I’ve found that setting firm boundaries with my phone is essential for staying present to both God and the people he places in front of me! Taking these words to heart today too!

    • Janet F. Salazar says:

      I appreciate the thought about setting boundaries on our phone not only so we can communicate with God but also for the people He places in front of us! So very true. Thanks for commenting.

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