Have you ever stopped to consider the pace of your life?
Wake up, check your email, your Facebook, head out the door, meetings, work, phone calls, more email, more meetings, home again and collapse into bed.
If we had to be honest, this would probably be a fairly accurate picture of each of our lives, wouldn’t it? (I can’t possibly be the only one, can I?)
But, did you notice what’s missing? God.
Where is communion with Christ? Time for thoughtful Bible study? Prayer? Rest?
What is the hustle and bustle of our über-connected lifestyle doing to our relationship with our Savior?
That’s the question that motivated Daniel Darling, the senior pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church, to write iFaith: Connecting With God in the 21st Century. In this book, Darling examines place, posture and practice of prayer in a world so caught up in the urgent that it’s lost the ability to see the important.
iFaith was a much needed wake-up call for me as a reader. I’m far too guilty of frittering away time and getting so caught up in everything else that’s going on that I neglect my prayer life. But why is that? In large part because I hate waiting for an answer.
Darling writes, “Waiting is considered loathsome to a generation accustomed to having quick answers, fast results and instant gratification” (p. 28). Ouch.
Think about it for a second though. When you pray, how long do you persist? How long do you continue on in prayer before you give up and decide that God must not be saying “yes” to this one? Darling continues, “But we must surrender our hearts to the sovereignty of God who slows us down, because waiting is not wasted time at all. Waiting is the essence of a faith that pleases Him” (ibid).
This is fundamental to our understanding of everything else when it comes to prayer. If we fail to get this, we run the risk of wasting opportunities to witness to the glory of Christ in our trials and tragedies and, depending on your temperament, perhaps becoming a bit self-righteous when it seems like God’s not answering.
Perhaps most convicting to me were chapters five and six. Chapter five deals with the need to stop. To be where we are and “reboot.” This is something that’s really difficult for me because I’m used to a very hectic pace—and because I’m so used to it, I don’t rest well. But, Darling warns, “We have to ask ourselves, Are we really doing God a favor by neglecting the normal, natural care of our bodies? . . . None of us is above the natural breaking down of our bodies. . . . None of us is superhuman” (p. 83).
I suspect this would be something that would make my wife cheer.
Chapter six is equally convicting because it reveals that I have a bit too much of a Martha streak at times, and not nearly enough Mary in me. (And that is the oddest sentence I’ve written in a long time.) Luke 10:38-42 can fill in the details of the story, but the big idea of this chapter is prayer and priorities. When you’re go-go-going all the time, stopping and praying for an hour can seem like a massive waste of time. After all, look at how busy I am? But, says Darling, “Prayer isn’t a waste of time; it’s the best use of time. It’s the very fuel that inspires a life of impact for God’s kingdom” (p. 102).
Darling concludes iFaith by offering an answer to the big question that plagues us in our technological age: “How do we harness emerging technology [like Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones] without becoming its slave?”
Darling proposes the following six points:
- Pursue genuine intimacy with God
- Pursue genuine intimacy with people
- Prioritize your technology choices
- Guard your eyes and heart online
- Give God the glory with your online presence
- Unplug, unwind, enjoy the old
These six points seem simple, but are truthfully very difficult (particularly the last one for me). But the truth is, the only way that any of us will avoid being enslaved to the technology we enjoy is by seeing it as a tool to be used for God’s glory. We can use our blogs, Facebook and Twitter to build up other believers and to provoke conversation with unbelieving friends and family—but most importantly, we can learn when it’s time to step away from them for the night and spend time enjoying God and giving Him thanks.
iFaith is an extremely insightful and practical book on connecting deeply with God in an age satisfied with shallow relationships. Read the book and be encouraged as you re-prioritize the practice of prayer in your life.