Spiritual Practice: Media Fasting
“The world is too much with us; late and soon”, wrote the English poet William Wordsworth, almost two centuries ago. What might Wordsworth say about how the world crowds in on our lives today! While we Americans continue to watch an average of 26-28 hours of TV a week, our time on the Internet has increased 121% in the last five years. How many times do we go online to check our email, and an hour later forgotten why we had gone online! I am left feeling the need for more time just to think, to talk, to pray, watch nature, and most of all, to “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10).
From biblical times fasting has been a key spiritual practice of Jesus’ followers. From the church’s beginning fasting has been a way of spiritual cleansing, consecration, and symbol of repentance. But today I’m not suggesting fasting from food or drink, but fasting from the media. I mean unplugging for a while from the TV, Internet, computer games, Facebook, Twitter, and the need to feel continually plugged in.
Jesus often unplugged from the world He came to save, for example:
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you” (Mark 1:35-36).
Consider the following ways in which you might unplug during this season of spiritual renewal:
- Set aside one day a week to be as media free as possible (i.e. unplugging from the TV, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
- My son Rhett suggests creating a physical space where you put aside high-tech devices as a way of saying to one another, “I am present”. Rhett has a tray in which he puts his phone and computer and other devices when he walks in the door of his house. Those items remain there for the night unless he has some “good reason” to access them.
- Listen to music as you drive in the car rather than the news or talk radio.
- Don’t always turn on the radio or TV when you get up in the morning.
- Go for a walk; read a book; talk to your spouse; just let yourself be!
Talk as a family about the use of media. See what will work best for you after the season of Lent and Holy Week.
“The world is too much with us; late and soon.”