Can our minds ever get quiet?
Pressing this thing called phone was my hobby. If my phone could talk, it’d have screamed, ‘Leave me alone for a day please!’
For many of us, our phones have become part of our lives. At work, in church, in the bus, on the dining table and even on the road, our eyes are glued to our phones. We have fallen into gutters, gone past our bus stops, gone late to work, offered burnt offering of supposedly delicious meals because social media kept screaming for our attention. It has been a perfect escape route from boredom and yet has also contributed to a high level of anxiety and depression.
If we cut down half the time we spend wandering aimlessly on social media, there’ll be enough space to think creatively, complete those unfinished tasks and go deeper in our walk with God.
But is it that easy to just reduce social media time for the purpose of focusing on other things?
I still remember times when I was frustrated because I’d spent hours scrolling down my SM newsfeed. I had make resolutions to stay away for a certain number of days, but before the end of day 1, I’d log back in, going round in a circle of helplessness and despair .
It became a serious cause of concern when I found it incredibly difficult to complete certain tasks on a deadline and my devotional life got messy. There was no point denying the fact that I was addicted. There was always this nudge to, per half hour, check out my facebook and instagram newsfeed. It affected my prayer life and my personal bible study. The attention span required for meditation process got shortened by the day.
I know there are lots of young people facing this battle. They find it almost impossible to tear themselves away from their social media platforms. Fellowship with God has become very poor. It seems more exciting to stay on twitter or instagram than to give time for personal development and spiritual growth.
In this post, I hope to share certain tips that have helped me control my social media time. We are spirit beings. As much as we are not advocating the complete escape from social media, we must control its usuage or else we’ll become slaves.
Before I go right into sharing those tips, I’d love to share something God opened my eyes to see through a renowed preacher. I believe this is the root behind this kind of addiction. Can we look at this scripture together?
But he(Pharoah) said, ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the Lord. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you…Exodus 5:17,18.(Emphasis mine)
If you remember this incident clearly, it happened after Moses had gone to Pharoah to ask for the release of the children of Israel. According to Moses, the release was for the children of Israel to leave Egypt so they could make sacrifices to their God. Pharaoh figured that the reason they could even think of such fellowship with God was because they had free time on their hands. He commanded that more tasks be given to keep them busy.
This is exactly one of the devil’s most effective ploy to keep believers from having a personal devotional life. He knows that if he can keep our hands busy, we’ll spend less time in the Word and when that happen, carnality and lack of enthusiasm for spiritual things will take strong hold of our lives.
Placed before us are new gist on twitter, more comedy skits on Instagram, abundant trending news on facebook. Even Whatsapp meant to just be a messaging application, has come with more innovations that can keep you glued for hours.
An understanding of what we are up against will help us see that this battle is more than physical. We’ll come to realize that the devil desires more than anything to keep us away from continuous intimacy with our Father.
How do we as believers deal with social media addiction that tends to slow down our spiritual growth.
1. The Holy Spirit is the primary means through which we can escape social media traps.
Many times, we undermine the place of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Until we come to realize that without the help of the Spirit of God in dealing with issues in our lives, we’ll not find permanent solutions.
How I got off the grip social media had on me, I can’t explain. I just knew a time came when I wasn’t checking my newsfeed every other minute rather I was looking forward to spending time in God’s Word. The more I spent time with God, the easier it was for me to exercise some level of control over social media.
As you yield freely and fully to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self-life. Galatians 5:16 TPT.
The first step in overcoming social media addiction is to realize that this is stronger than what your self-will can achieve.
2. Take your concerns to the Lord in prayer
Complaining and getting worked up over what social media is doing to your personal and spiritual development is not enough. Don’t just sit there, frustrated and discouraged. You spent hours on twitter last night and only went off because your battery ran out and now you are angry that you couldn’t pray or read the Word and wondering why you are stuck in your spiritual walk.
Murmuring will not bring any change. Ask the Lord for help. Tell him you desire to spend time with him. Ask him to develop a hunger in your heart for spiritual things. Open your mouth and talk. What do you really want? The Lord is listening.
3. Begin to train your mind to desire spiritual things.
Don’t stop at asking. Take certain steps in faith. Remember, addictions take place in the soul realm where your mind, emotions and will are located. Your mind kept drawing you back to those platforms hundred times a day because that’s what it has been trained to respond to.
Why not condition this mind to the things of the Spirit. There are three major ways to get this to happen. One is to declare and confess the Word concerning this area over a period of time. Say what you want to see in your life. Look at some examples:
‘Hunger for God is deposited in my heart. In the name of Jesus, as the deer pants after the streams of water, my soul pants after the Lord.’
‘In the name of Jesus, this addiction loses hold of my heart. He who raised Christ from the dead dwells in me, my heart is fixed on Christ.
‘I enjoy the life of the Spirit. The love for the Word flows unhindered in my heart. God’s word is sweeter than honey. I am refreshed by the Word. The Holy Spirit quickens me.’
‘I am a slave to righteousness. I am a God addict. In Christ, I live and move and have my being.’
Trust me when I say I have seen transformation through speaking words like this. I have moved from a social media addict to exercising control over the use of these platforms. The desire just shifts to a hunger for communion with the Father.
If you will trust the Holy Spirit by speaking spirit-filled words to yourself, you’ll find out that the strength to turn off your internet for a quiet time with God becomes easier.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31 NLT.
There is a place of the believer’s exercise of his authority in Christ and we do this by speaking. We open our mouth and we talk.
The second thing that can help you gain control is by praying scriptures. The Pauline prayers are a great place to start.
Here’s a strategy my friend and I employed few weeks ago. We prayed a particular chapter of the bible from different translations. It was such a beautiful and refreshing experience. You can also pray Ephesians 1:17-19 from KJV today and NLT tomorrow, and another translation the following day. Find more helpful scriptures here.
Draw from the knowledge of your position in Christ and pray them consistently. If you have godly friends around you, fix a time when you can pray scriptures with them. God’s Word works wonders.
After you’ve followed the steps I outlined above, get ready to make moves as the Spirit leads. You may need to become familiar with turning off your phone at certain times, using the airplane mode, keeping your phone far away from you for a few hours or get a small ‘torchlight’phone for calls so that when you deliberately want to stay away from the internet, at least you can still be reached.
4. Aim for consistency.
There is the temptation to just get excited and make plans to stretch for hours in fellowship with the Father. While I am all for long hours with God, I’d prefer you aim for consistency first.
What use is it if you spend six hours in fellowship today and for the next two weeks you struggle to mumble a little as a prayer. You can take lots of gradual steps as a foundation exercise. While you have a specific fellowship time, you can also carry out spiritual activities during the day.
You can listen to sermons as you walk down the street or as you wash your dishes. Instead of always sitting before the TV to eat dinner, play an audio bible instead.
When the nudge to check twitter comes at the time you should be reading the Word, pause and reach for a bible app on your phone. Make plans daily on what scriptures you want to meditate on.
Discipline won’t become a part of your life in a day. I have had days when in the middle of studying the Word, I remember there was something I should check on my news feed and I hurried there and got distracted, but I didn’t let that create condemnation in my heart. I trusted the Holy Spirit to strengthen me to say No the next time. It got easier by the day.
Don’t fall for the guilt trip when you can’t see quick progress. Remember that God is at work in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. Your part is to open up to receive what he has for you. Keep trusting even while you are struggling. Keep responding to him and reminding yourself that you have authority over the responses of your mind and body.
Let me end by saying that we can’t leave our spiritual life to ‘whatever will be will be.’ Whether or not you run an online business, discipline is still essential in reaching for the depths of the Spirit.
Is it possible that the reason you can’t hear God clearly on those issues, or the reason you are so anxious and regularly feel depressed is because your mind needs to be quiet. If you will just cut down on your online presence and spend time alone with God, you’ll receive the clarity you desire.
Jesus has given us the authority. In him we have dominion. Let’s exercise it.
What steps have you been able to employ to take control of your social media time and online presence?