A screen fast for Lent?


As I begin to write this, I’m completely aware of the corrective words of Jesus to his disciples regarding praying in public places in loud voices, rather than praying in private. And his words about fasting with long faces so that everyone can see and know what they are about. It seems that the Pharisees (religious leaders) of the day were making a scene to draw attention to themselves, rather than keeping what they were doing between them and God. And Jesus did not approve one bit, and warned his disciples to not follow suit.

So, I have to preface this post by giving notice that when and if I do a ‘screen fast’ or any other kind of fast, I will proceed privately between God and I. I will not blog about the process. There will be signs that I’m not online, but that is all. The details will remain private.

Presenting the idea now is simply to allow you to consider it for yourself.

Lent is a rather new concept for me, as I didn’t grow up with it, and I haven’t focused on it in my adult life either. But, at this time of the year, Lent is practiced by many devout followers of Jesus, who for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, choose to turn away from the distractions of the world and worldly pleasures, and draw closer to Christ. Lent 2010 begins next week on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

Not only is Lent about abstaining from certain activities, foods, or whatever you personally choose to remove from your life, Lent is also about what you choose to do with the time that has been opened up with the removal of these things. In Isaiah 58:1-12, Christ teaches that ‘fasting’ without works of charity does us no good. Fasting is also about devoting time to prayer and solitude with God, learning more about him, spending time with him. For example, if fasting my lunchtime meal is what I choose to do, then each lunchtime I would feel the physical trigger of hunger pangs, which would remind me to turn my thoughts toward God in prayer.

When I look at my own life and the values I profess to have, and compare that to how I spend my time and what takes up a large portion of my day, I can’t help but acknowledge that the ‘screen’ is where I’m drawn to most often. Not to my bible, not to my knees, but to my screen. Whether that’s to connect with friends, family, teachers by email, or blogging, or checking my blog stats, or my facebook, or doing important research, or writing new poems or stories, that’s where I go, A LOT. Whenever I have a spare minute, with very little structure or parameters, I walk around the corner to my computer desk and click, click, click. And, without being completely aware of it, I’m there for long periods of time.

So, it makes sense to me that to fast something in my life that might even hold some power over me, it would have to be my computer.

For you it could be texting, eating certain foods, television, shopping, talking on the phone, or whatever you feel could or should go.

40 days is a long time. I took time out from my computer once before, over a year ago, for a month. And that was difficult. People didn’t understand. I felt cut off. I felt disappointed that phone calls didn’t take the place of emails. I didn’t do it then for the primary purpose of seeking God, but for the purposes of breaking the hold the computer had over me. And, here I am recognizing that the mesmerizing white glow of the screen might just have me in it’s grasp one more time. And if I say I value Jesus over all, then my life had better show that singleness of heart and action.

A blog I read occasionally has some great steps to prepare for a ‘screen fast’. I will print them out today and give serious consideration. And then, I will choose.

Logging off for now,

Lesley-Anne

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2 thoughts on “A screen fast for Lent?

  1. So glad you posted this Lesley-Anne. I’m just taking baby steps and doing a facebook fast only, but I hadn’t thought about doing anything to replace my time. Turning myself towards something more spiritual is a wonderful idea! Thanks!

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