Imagine your phone making a noise and the light beginning to blink.
The truth is that you may not have to imagine very hard. That may have happened as you read the first few words of this post.
One study from 2016 showed that people touch their phone an average of 2617 times per day. The top 10% of the people are more than double that at 5400+ times per day. PER DAY. A touch was considered to be a swipe, typing, and tapping. In that same article Apple revealed that the average user unlocked their phone about 80 times per day (about 5-6 times per hour that we are awake). (1)
The fact that Apple can track that is scary enough. The larger number was learned from a special tool that allowed a group to track the users “touches.” Is it any wonder that we don’t have time to study the Bible, serve others, etc.? We are so busy with our phones. Phones are supposed to be a tool, but we end up being their slaves.
But the stats got me to thinking, how quickly do we react when God tries to get our attention? Big Tech firms know how to get our attention and how to keep our attention. And they use tactics to make it happen.
God, on the other hand, can get our attention at any point, but doesn’t manipulate us, and wants us to choose to respond. But we are often too busy with life (and our phones) to notice when God is reaching out to us. He doesn’t use blinking lights or various audible notifications that catch our attention. Or does He? (Consider the stars or the sound of a brook flowing, the trees rustling, a lion roaring, etc.)
But our busyness keeps us from the privilege of prayer (see last week’s post). We have the awesome opportunity to talk to the God of the universe, but we would often rather focus on the unimportant and mundane, in part because we view the communication on a man-made device rather than talking to God.
But Jesus intended us to communicate with God. Of course, He did it often – finding times to get away from others to have private time with His Father (see Mark 1.45; Luke 6.12, etc.). Now you might think that it was easier for Jesus to get away because He did not have a cell phone, but Jesus had a higher percentage of people (if not the actual number of people) making demands on His time than we can ever imagine.
But He took time to pray. And He expected us to pray as well. His words in Matthew 6 make this clear. In Matthew 6.5, 6, 7, and 9, Jesus words explicitly state (or infer, v9) that it is assumed we pray. Some might suggest that the words, “When you pray…” might mean something like, “If you pray, then do it this way.” But Jesus is talking to a culture that was focused on giving, praying, and fasting, and in each case in Romans 6.1-18, He appeals to their dutiful nature by suggesting how it should be done.
What was assumed of the people then, is still expected today. Matthew 6 is in the heart of The Sermon on the Mount which is about how to live with a Kingdom mindset. Those who follow Jesus (i.e. Christians) are to live by the principles of Jesus’ teaching in these chapters to employ Kingdom principles on earth as they are employed in heaven.
As I mentioned last week, prayer is a privilege, but it is also expected. We have a God that wants to communicate with us. He wants to hear from us, and He wants us to listen to Him. Certainly, He could use more technologically-oriented approaches to get our attention like making a device make a noise or flash at us until we respond. But those approaches are really too primitive for God. As much of an advance as we consider modern communication devices to be, God can directly communicate with our mind. He can get our attention through nature. In other words, God has made what man could never fathom making on our own.
That kind of God deserves our attention. He deserves our communication. And He wants us to choose to communicate with Him, but He gives us the choice.
So, the next time your phone blinks or buzzes, take a moment to think about God. That message on your phone will not disappear. It can wait. Of course, God can wait too. But “when you pray,…” well, you are honoring God and choosing to communicate with the One who wants to communicate with you more than anyone else ever could.
REMINDER: If you wish to watch these posts in video form, I am live most every Wednesday at 7 pm on our church’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-ruMRCdzAaaTo1hiDyzwOg. At present, the video is the post from the prior week. During the week’s I am live, you can post questions and comments during the livestream if you wish.