Do you ever feel like technology is taking over your life? Maybe you spend too much time on Facebook. Or you have a hard time stopping when you watch Netflix. Or you’re addicted to Pinterest. You want to break your habit, but you’re not sure how.
If this is you, an entertainment and social media fast may help. T.C. Avey, who blogs at Wisdom of a Fool, took a 21 day fast from technology and social media, and I asked her to share her experience with us. I’ve asked her some questions about the experience, and you can read her responses below.
Entertainment and Social Media Fast: What’s It Like?
1. Why did you decide to take a fast from entertainment and social media, T.C.?
Six years ago my Sunday School group read the book, “Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom” by Stovall Weems and decided to pray and fast for 21 days. I was pregnant and couldn’t do the fast as everyone else did, but I wanted to participate. So I decided to fast from ALL forms of entertainment and social media. This meant NO radio, TV, computer, internet, phone, tablet or even books unless it was the Bible or book by Weems.
Since that time I have chosen to fast from technology every once in awhile because it’s so powerful. There are various motivating factors, but all have the underlying theme of drawing me closer to God and getting the “noise” out of my way so that I can really hear my Savior.
2. What did your fast look like on a practical level?
On the surface it looked really boring. I mean, no technology! Nothing for my hands to hold, no buttons for my fingers to click, no noise to drown out the silence, no one to talk with and nothing to occupy my mind… other than God. I didn’t even have work to simulate me. At the time I was practically on bed rest due to a difficult pregnancy, and technology was my life line to keep me sane during the long hours while my husband was at work.
Doing such a strict fast was HARD…at first. By the middle of the second week I was in a groove. I craved more time with God. I woke ready get into the Word and hear what God had to say to me.
3. What was the hardest thing about it?
Besides the obvious of committing to such a strict fast, I discovered how much technology ruled my life. I was astonished by this revelation since I often use technology FOR God. I love reading Christian blogs, reading devotionals on my tablet, and using my Bible app. Yet these very tools (and others) often distract me FROM God.
I was tempted so often to “cheat”. I’m used to watching TV before bed but I couldn’t do that. Thankfully my husband read the Bible with me and we journaled our thoughts and revelations.
I remember toward the end of the fast a terrible storm was coming. Talk about being tempted to cheat! I could see the skies darken and had no clue what was happening… but it sure looked like a tornado. It was scary, but all ended well.
4. What lessons did you learn from it?
I’m not sure what I was expecting but I can tell you the depth of my relationship with God increased more than I could have imagined. I had major revelations about my life: my weakness and how God could supply my need if I would trust Him, my strengths and how they prohibited me from relying on God, my personality and how it could be used to further God’s kingdom, my past mistakes and how I was forgiven, and so much more.
I experienced the sweet intimacy of time with God, the tears of healing, and the joy of being free not only from distractions such as technology, but also from sin and guilt.
5. Was there anything about it that surprised you?
Actually a few things surprised me. First, I was expecting temptations and spiritual warfare. Satan doesn’t like God’s children drawing closer to Him and fasting is one of the best ways I know to draw closer to God. Something about denying our flesh pulls our spirits closer to God.
The spiritual warfare I experienced during the fast didn’t surprise me—how lax I became after the fast did. It’s like once the fast was over I didn’t feel the need to keep my spiritual antenna fine tuned into God. This caused me to wonder why I rely on God more when fasting than any other time. Do I sometimes think I can battle satan without God’s help? And why do I extinguish all my options before asking God for help?
Before reading the Awakening book I’d only fast for a day or two about certain prayer requests, such as an upcoming mission trip or witnessing to a friend. But reading that book showed me there’s more to fasting than I realized. I shouldn’t fast just to petition God or try and gain His favor. It’s about strengthening the relationship, spending time with God and letting Him speak and reveal things we often don’t take time to listen too.
Here’s another thing fasting pushed to the forefront of my awareness: Anytime I focus more on God than I do myself the more like Christ I become, the more loving I am. And people respond to love.
As I draw closer to God, I respond to others in a more Christ-like way. For me, this means putting people above projects. When I use technology, unwittingly it gets in my way of loving others and responding to their needs. I think an email needs a response before I can help my son with his homework. I take a phone call while in line at the store and ignore the frazzled look of the elderly lady behind me. I text while sitting at a restaurant instead of looking around and asking God if He how He wants me to respond.
Technology is not bad. It can be very good. But we need to learn how to unplug from it and connect with the people around us.
6. Did it affect your relationship with God at all?
YES! I highly encourage every Christian to fast. If you don’t know how or have questions about it you should read “Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom” by Stoval Weems. It’s a great starter book.
This world is full of distractions…even if you are in ministry. Doing “good things” FOR God can even get in your way of being close to Him. Fasting brings you closer to Him and allows you to hear His heart.
Drifting away from Him happens over time, that’s why it’s important to be intentional about carving out time for God.
7. Did it have any longterm effects?
It helps me be more aware of my time management. I’m more sensitive of how I spend my time and can tell when I need an “awakening” in my walk with God. When I start getting short with my family, when fears and worries clog my prayers, when projects take precedence over people, then I know I need to take a step away from the noise and embrace time with God on a more intimate level.
Bio: TC Avey is a Christian wife and mother. She’s an avid reader who loves history and politics. Her blog, Wisdom of a Fool, is dedicated to helping Christians deepen their relationship with Christ and navigate through the challenges facing believers in our world. Her book, The Precipice: When Everything We know Ends, is available on Amazon. You can also follow her on twitter.