On my single mobile device, I can access more information, games, books, audio and video than anyone in history. That is a remarkable achievement of technology, bringing that much content to the fingertips of human beings. It is truly incredible. But it also poses an incredible challenge, both in the amount of information we now take in, and the frequency this happens. A recent survey discovered that the average UK adult spends 3 hours and 23 minutes a day on their phone. I’m not aware of anything else in existence that we dedicate this much time to, except perhaps our children. Interestingly, the study noted that it isn’t necessarily the amount of time spent on the device that is the problem, but how often we find ourselves drawn to it. Phones are checked, on average, 58 times a day from the moment someone wakes up to the few remaining moments before sleep. Apparently most people spend roughly 1 minute 15 seconds on their phone once they pick it up. What this looks like in practice is that as we compulsively check our phones our productivity drops as we lose focus on what matters. It’s the loss, or even the inability to focus, that becomes so damaging – especially to our relationship with God.
In God’s promise to the exiles in Babylon through His prophet Jeremiah, God gives them hope for the future. Judah had become distracted by the idols around them and didn’t put God in the centre of their lives as He deserved. But despite their terrible situation in exile, there is a way back into His presence, through prayer – focussed prayer:
Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
God isn’t looking for a religiously motivated action, not for people going through the motions, squeezing Him in where they can. No, God is asking His people to focus upon Him and to seek Him with all their hearts. This would require time and concentration. Not prayer in-between picking up and laying down your phone. Not reading Scripture in between YouTube videos. He desires prayer from a people willing to give Him the focus He deserves. It isn’t easy in this culture to give anything 100%, especially with so many distractions around us. But I would encourage you to prioritise time with God. Make time. Protect that time. Put your phone in a box, or turn it off. Prioritise Him and make sure to listen as well as speak. As the prophet says, you will find Him and your relationship will be enriched.