My quiet is so regularly intruded upon by the noise of mobile phones that I have become increasingly irritated by them and the seemingly inane conversations that take place. Okay, yes I admit it, I have one too! Last year, however, whilst traveling on a train back from Scotland, my irritation turned to inspiration, and I had what Oprah Winfrey describes as ?a light bulb moment’.
When I first learned how to meditate some fourteen years ago, Joyce Huggett, my vicar’s wife (and the author of Learning the Language of Prayer), spoke of tuning in to God like a radio, adjusting the dial until you could hear God speak. It was like trying to find his frequency. With the digital revolution, of course, radios rarely have dials anymore. They usually find a particular station automatically by scanning through the frequencies. So the radio metaphor has lost some of its impact. If only hearing from God were so easy!
Still, I’ve found that another, more recent technological device, the mobile phone, has really helped me to have a much fuller understanding of the importance of prayer and meditation in my life and to communicate this with others. Like mobile communication, our relationship with God is dynamic; it’s every day, every hour, every minute, and it can be every bit as ?cool’ and exciting. Wouldn’t it be great if people spent as much time with God as they do making calls or sending text messages!
My first mobile phone, affectionately described as ?a brick’, was not as high-tech as my new one, but that old phone gave me a lot of onscreen information and served as a reminder of six ways in which mobile communication can teach us to communicate more effectively with God.
1. Switching On
First, before you can use a mobile phone, you have to switch it on. In the same way we have to take time to switch on to God, to show our willingness to spend time with him. Just expressing to him your openness is a start, as in this simple prayer: Lord, help me to focus on you, as we spend time together today. Renew my mind and help me to let go of all the clutter that gets in the way.
Next, my mobile phone has to take a few seconds to register its connection to the phone system, which is a reminder to me to acknowledge my own connectedness to God. You need to admit your dependence on that connection: Lord, you are my Father and Savior, Creator and Lord Apart from you I can do nothing.
Then my mobile phone screen tells me that it is searching for the particular person I am trying to call. It is trying to find his or her signal. This is like tuning in to God’s presence, taking time just to be quiet and hear that ?still small voice’ of God. But if I hear nothing, I have not failed, because even wasting time with the one we love is valuable. In fact, it’s at the heart of prayer. As lovers grow in intimacy, words become unnecessary, and, to quote one retreatant, ?Silence says all’. We don’t spend time with God for what we get from him. Wasting time with God is always an investment. One day we will have nothing but time to spend with God ? so our quiet times and Sabbath rests now are simply preparation for heaven.
4. Signal Strength Low
Tiredness, stress, anxiety, illness, relationship difficulties, interruptions, children screaming in another room will interfere with our ability to focus on God. Somehow, we have to learn either how to ignore the internal and external noises or how to incorporate them in such a way that they no longer become a distraction.
5. Battery Low
What a wonderful reminder battery low is. My mobile phone will only function for twenty-four hours before it displays this warning. At that point I have to recharge its batteries by plugging it into an electricity source.
In the same way we have to keep coming back to base, returning to our Source, which is God. This is exactly what Jesus did when he took time out to be with his Father: ?After leaving them, he [Jesus] went up on a mountainside to pray’ (Mark 6:46).
The pattern of ministering and withdrawal, giving out and then receiving, is biblical. It was modeled by Jesus, and Jesus encouraged his disciples to adopt this same pattern. ?Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”‘ (Mark 6:31).
We too can be recharged, re-energized and refocused by returning to base and taking time out with our Father.
6. Charging complete . . . What a lovely thought! When our charging is complete, we are ready to face anything!
Excerpt from Into God’s Presence by Liz Babbs © 2005 by Elizabeth Babbs, Published by Zondervan.
Used with permission.