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Why giving up your phone can help you hear from Jesus

By: kate mardis

A few days ago, as I was watching my 24th (ish) Instagram story in a row, I was startled by my boyfriend calling my name in a much louder voice than he typically uses. Since he was only a few feet away, I wasn’t immediately sure what was wrong and indicated as such with a firm “What?!” when I looked his way. 

Apparently, he had called my name a few times but my attention was so buried in my phone that he felt he had no choice but to increase his volume. Maybe you can relate. We love our phones, don’t we? But what happens when we’re so in touch with our technology that we stop hearing the people around us and even our Father above us? 

When I went to my first Gauntlet as a leader five years ago, I remember thinking, They’re not going to let students have their phones? Why? That is so silly! It will never work!

Boy, was I wrong. 

What I’ve learned is that we can all benefit from a phone break, and not just for Gauntlet.

4 Reasons It’s Good to Take a Break from Technology

1. It helps us hear God more clearly. 

God has good plans for each of our lives, and He wants us to know what they are. We know this because he tells Jeremiah as much: 

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:11-14). 

No matter how good our intentions are, social media almost always turns into a competition. Instead of seeking what God has for us, we’re bombarded by how great everyone else’s life seems and we start to think that’s how our lives should be. But when we silence the comparative and competitive voices around us, we can focus more on who God is and what He is calling us to. 

2. It allows us to be more present with the people around us. 

Whether it’s in Florida at Gauntlet or just a Saturday morning coffee date, putting my phone away helps me to be a better Christ follower and a better friend. When I put my phone away and put my focus on the people God placed in my path, my heart is most in tune with what Jesus might be speaking to me through the Holy Spirit. 

When Jesus left Earth, He gave us the Holy Spirit as a counselor, a comforter, and a guide (John 14:26). It’s by listening to the Holy Spirit that we can discern how God would have us respond in any situation, just like Jesus promised: “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13). 

3. It’s an opportunity to be more intentional with our time. 

It’s amazing how quickly time passes when I’m watching Instagram stories or snapping my friends about what I’m eating for lunch. My intent to do one thing that takes 5 minutes can turn into 30 or 45 minutes of distraction if I’m not careful. 

If I do that every day, that’s 7 hours a week I’ve given to social media when I could have been serving at church, having dinner with a friend, reading my Bible, or just resting my soul for whatever I might need to do next. 

James, Jesus’ brother, says our lives are like “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). We only get a finite amount of time on Earth, and how we spend it matters (Ephesians 5:16, John 9:4).  Removing the distraction of social media creates more time to do the things that, ultimately, help me live a healthy, joyful, Jesus-centered life.

4. It protects us from idolatry. 

When God set up the laws for His people, He said, “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God... “ (Leviticus 26:1). 

Everything in our lives can be a tool to draw people to Jesus or a hindrance in our walk with Him. If we can’t sit at the dinner table, have a conversation with our friends, or spend time with Jesus without reaching for our phones, our phones have become our idols. Taking a break from technology, or anything else we are dependent on, can help us to learn not to rely on those things for our identity and affirmation. 

It isn’t that phones, technology, or social media are bad or sinful. It’s that anytime we start caring so much about sharing and comparing our lives to everyone else’s, it’s time to unplug and refocus our attention on what matters most. Fasting from technology can free our eyes, ears, and minds from the noise and allow us to hear the Lord speaking in a way we haven’t before.

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