Most of us are familiar with bandwidth or data allowances. A phone provider might give you 10 Gigabytes of data for the month, and once it is used up, you have to wait until the month renewal date comes around, or buy more data. That is your bandwidth, the total amount of electronic processing that has been allocated to you for your use.
And our minds are like computers in at least some ways. There are only so many things we can think about at once. Various people have pointed out that multi-tasking doesn’t necessarily achieve as much as when people focus on a single task. Sometimes filling our minds with many things at once can actually take away our effectiveness.
If we want to be people who love Christ, and find time to serve him through prayer and study, our best way of doing that is actually to set aside time dedicated only to Him. This would be something like giving him some of our mental bandwidth allowance. I realise it is a crude example, but is illustrative of an idea.
If you are a person who likes to rise and pray in the morning. The worst thing you can do upon rising is to reach for your phone to check email, facebook, messages, stock prices or anything before you turn to Christ. In my own experience, this has the effect of filling the mind with many thoughts, so that even though you might physically sit down to be with the Lord for prayer, you are already concerned with many things. Now you are sharing your mental “data allowance” or attention, between your share portfolio, your nieces birthday, today’s appointments, yesterday’s customer complaints, what your husband or wife commented on, and of course Christ.
Then as you sit down to read your Bible, you place your phone right there next to you. As you start to read, you hear a bing, and naturally you need to know what happened. And you have to send a quick reply because it’s urgent.
Jesus Had a Strategy for Prayer Times
Jesus had a strategy for his prayer times. He withdrew and went to a lonely place. Today if your phone is with you, you are not alone. The world has changed so that being alone really means being without your phone. And if your Bible is on your phone, then you need to find a real Bible and actually turn pages.
Try giving your phone to someone else while you pray, like your husband or wife. It won’t be as tempting to ask them for the phone back in the middle of when you should be praying, and they can take any urgent calls.
How much data allowance do you actually give to Jesus? In Luke’s gospel, Jesus said to Martha, “you are concerned about many things, but only one thing is needed.” And the thing that is needed is to not fill our minds with these many concerns, but give Jesus our full attention. Let us grow to know him. Then later when you are working, teaching, studying, raising children or whatever you are called by God to do… give that your full attention too.
If you pray in the evenings as many people do, a strategy is to put your phone to bed for the night. Finish your tasks, turn your phone on silent and place it on the charger, and then turn to Christ. At this point, it’s just you and Him… and what a sweet time that is going to be.