In some Christian traditions, Lent marks a few weeks on the winter calendar for believers to set aside worldly distractions, focus on Christ’s suffering, and prepare our hearts for Easter.
As the Lenten season began last week, social networking was among the top five things people tweeted that they were giving up for Lent. (The irony wasn’t lost on us, either!)
For Lenten observers (or anyone!) interested in taking a break from social media or other smartphone distractions, here’s a thought that allows you to piggyback on your current addition:
Make the Bible your new cell phone addiction.
Though technology is our business here, we recognize the ways cell phones and personal devices can exert a subtle dominance over our lives. Smartphones are wonderful and powerful tools, but they also can easily distract us from God’s presence and lull us into care-less ambivalence.
What if we could form a new habit of foregoing Facebook and Candy Crush to opt for God’s Word when we have a few minutes to kill? How many minutes of spiritual refreshment could we actually glean?
Here are some ideas for turning this ideal into a new habit
1. Take advantage of cool YouVersion features.
This Bible app is the modern-day “pocket Bible,” and you probably have it on your smartphone. But do you know how many awesome ways you can use this app? Here are a few examples:
Start a YouVersion reading plan.
Choose among plans that will walk you through timely seasons like Lent, plans that focus on interesting topics, plans by popular authors and speakers, and plans that take you through books of the Bible. Some plans can be completed in a few days and others move you through the entire Bible in a year. YouVersion will help you track your progress, take notes, and share your thoughts with friends.
Listen to the Bible on YouVersion.
Are you driving? Working out? Cooking dinner? YouVersion allows you to listen to the Bible in several versions, so you can catch up on your reading plan audibly, or spend time with God’s Word “hands-free.”
Check out what your friends are reading in YouVersion.
Friends can join your YouVersion account, so you can read each other’s public notes and post comments. YouVersion also helps you send verses or scripture images to friends as encouragement.
Read the YouVersion Verse of the Day.
Try reading the verse several times, while emphasizing different words. Or use the verse as a prompt to pray for yourself or someone else.
2. Take advantage of “Do Not Disturb.”
Adjust your settings to hold incoming calls and notifications when you’re reading the Bible on your smartphone. The iPhone can be easily set to “Do Not Disturb” to avoid distracting notifications. If you’re worried about missing an important call, you can adjust the “Do Not Disturb” setting to allow notifications only from “Favorites.”
3. Make a plan, and stick to it.
Consider this approach: Make the Bible your first stop during Lent. When you pick up your smartphone to pass the time, choose the Bible for the first five minutes—over a game, social media, or even sending a casual text or e-mail.
4. Expect opposition.
Adjusting a mindless habit is never easy, and it may shine uncomfortable light on the ways you use your smartphone. You may feel restless, and even bored with the Bible. You may regress to an old habit now and again. Hang in there. Pray through the discomfort. Listen for God’s still, small voice. And persist in believing that this kind of sacrifice may seem small to you, but God is pleased with your gift and will bless it, according to John 6.
5. Tell a friend about your plan.
It’s too easy to talk ourselves out of a new discipline if we haven’t said it out loud to someone we trust to hold us accountable. If you’re not sure who to ask, go ahead and tweet it. Your followers may actually hold you to it!
Lent will be over in just a few weeks–and what will your time away from technology have done for you? Don’t just “give up” social media and smartphone distractions for Lent—Use that discipline to create a more satisfying addiction.