Ash Wednesday (March 6) marks the first day of the season of Lent. The 40 days prior to Easter Sunday remind us of Jesus’ 40-day journey into the desert and many Christians commit to fast from a personal luxury throughout Lent. When you think of fasting, you may associate the word with abstaining from food (or specific food groups), but there’s a growing trend of people choosing to fast from social media during Lent.
If you’re eager to ditch the social media addiction for 40 days and instead use the time to connect deeper in your relationship with Christ, here are some tips to help make the commitment stick.
The act of abstaining from social media seems simple: Just stop using it. However, there are initial first steps you can take to ensure that you stay the course.
- Let people know…. Maybe. Do you want to let your online community know that if they want to find you, they’ll need to text/call/email you? People often post on social media announcing their fast from the platforms. However, in Matthew 6:17-18, Jesus encourages us to fast in secret, promising us that God sees the sacrifice and will reward you.
- Delete the apps. Delete all your social media apps from your phone. They’ll be there when this fast is over.
- Log out on your computer. On your computer, consciously decide to fully log out of your accounts. You may have an unconscious habit to type in Twitter or Facebook’s URL in your browser while online. If you do this without thinking, when you reach the site (where you’re logged out), you’ll be reminded that you’ve chosen to step away from it for 40 days.
- While we’re at it, log out on your phone too. To avoid temptation, log out on your phone’s browser as well. After deleting your apps, you may want to sneak a glance at social media websites, but a manual log-out will help you maintain your commitment.
- Narrow your focus. We think a total fast from social media sounds incredible, but if you’re too worried that you can’t take on the sacrifice, you may opt to just fast from just one social platform. We recommend trying to give up whichever one you’re most personally addicted to—that’s where the real growth lies!
What to do Instead?
The best way to stick to this commitment is to find alternative (more uplifting) ways to use your phone to entertain you. Instagram’s siren call is probably at its strongest when we’re bored in a dentist waiting room, but we aren’t advocating for giving up your phone completely. (Although, we won’t stop you if you’re up for it. There are brain benefits to stepping away from your phone altogether). If you find yourself looking at your phone while bored, here are some healthier ways to pass time with your smartphone.
- Read the Bible. Download the YouVersion app and dive into the Word
- Read a book, for free! Download the Libby app and access Kindle and audiobooks for free on your phone simply by putting in your library card number.
- Play a brain game. Download games like Luminosity, which are designed to sharpen your mind.
- Call a friend. Old school, right?! But a phone conversation will make you feel much more connected than text based chats (regardless of if they’re on social media or via text message).
- Just put it down. Get comfortable putting your phone aside. It may be uncomfortable at first, but humans thrived since the dawn of time without iPhones. Making a sacrifice for lent is supposed to feel a bit uncomfortable. The idea is that by putting aside a dependence on a creature comfort, you can then use that extra energy to pray and connect deeper with God.
What You Can Expect?
When we read the Bible, we discover that the spiritual discipline of fasting comes with beautiful promises. When you commit to focus your energy on the Lord, here are some of the outcomes waiting for you:
- Increased wisdom. In Judges 20, the Israelites are preparing to go to war; an impending situation that filled them with fear and even led them to weep before God. They committed to fast together before making the decision to enter battle; discovering the Lord’s wisdom waiting for them within the process.
- More intense prayers. In 2 Samuel 12, we read the tragic account of the death of David’s baby son. In an effort to see healing brought to the child, David explains that he fasted and wept to intensify his prayers. Although the child did not survive, this story provides an example of the prayer-intensifying power of fasting.
- Deeper worship. Although we may associate the word “worship” with “music,” there’s many diverse forms of worship described in the Bible, including the act of fasting. In Luke 2, the prophetess Anna is praised for her commitment to worship, specifically that she spent all her time in the Temple fasting and praying.
- Greater spiritual resolve. Lent is designed to mirror Jesus’ 40 day fast, a time when He faced His greatest temptation from Satan. When we read the account of the Devil’s test for Jesus in Luke 4, we discover that although Jesus’ physical energy was depleted during this fast, His spiritual strength to resist temptation was empowered.
While not every denomination observes Lent as an entire church, individual Believers from all sorts of Christian backgrounds opt into participation in this ancient spiritual practice. Perhaps, by setting aside some of the greatest distractions of modern times, you’ll discover the deeper connection God promised via this time-tested form of worship.