By Jack Wilkie
John Piper once wrote that “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
Every time I read that quote it steps all over my toes, and I feel pretty safe in saying I’m not the only one. With so many things competing for our attention these days, it’s impossibly easy for Bible study and prayer to get shoved to the back burner.
Of course, it’s not just social media. It can be TV, video games, texting… anything that consumes our time like that. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, and they can be nice blessings in our lives – but they have to be returned to their proper place. The internet has shaped the world in such a way that our natural state in this age is to have our lives dictated by distractions. But our time here is short, and we have many important things to do that won’t get done if all of our time is stolen by those distractions. God calls us to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16), and we’re reminded that a wise person numbers their days (Psalm 90:12). God calls us to be intentional about the way we live our days, and for many of us that means making a change in the way we’re currently living.
If the issues described thus far don’t apply to you, then disregard this article. But if you’re one of us who finds the days regularly slipping away, I hope you’ll consider the challenge.
So, here’s our challenge: pick what you feel takes up the most of your spare time – whether social media, game apps, video games, TV, whatever fits the bill for you – and track your time spent on it for a week. (Tips on how to do so are given at the bottom of this page.)
If you’re like me, you might be surprised at the results. In prepping for this article, my wife and I just finished our first week of tracking our time and the results are pretty shocking. Now we’re seeing where we can cut back and making a dedicated plan for how we’re going to spend the extra time. If I can get even half of that time back every week, I will have plenty of time for prayer, better Bible study, and other reading each day.
So, are you up for the challenge? It’s an exciting prospect to think of how much good we can do if we can all find even another hour per week for prayer and gaining a deeper knowledge of God’s word. Take the challenge with me, and invite others along to do the same. Let’s take back our time and start giving to God what’s first and not what’s left over.
Here are a few tips on how to track your time. If you want to keep it simple, just get a stopwatch or put a pen and paper by your computer or on your coffee table and write down your time when you sit down to get online or watch a show and when you finish. Or, use your phone’s stopwatch app. But, if you want a bit more technical solution that can do the tracking for you…
I recommend RescueTime (which offers a free plan that will track your time spent on websites and email you the report each week) for when you’re on a computer. As for smartphones – if you’re on an Android phone, Quality Time is a free app that will track your time spent. If you have an iPhone, your phone already tracks how much time you spend on apps. Just go to the Settings app, select Battery, and it will let you see how much time you’ve spent on each app in the past 24 hours and the past 7 days (press on the clock icon if it doesn’t show the times at first).