40 days of evening technology fasting

My wife, Shelly, and I have started a 40 day fast in conjunction with a pilot project our church is doing. From November 15 through December 24, 2006, we are intentionally engaging together in a program of prayers, action, and fasting. The guidelines from the church on this include:

  1. For 40 days, pray daily, accomplish an action to glorify God (pick up trash, help someone… something big or small), and fast (give something up for God of worldly worth)
  2. Record for no more than two minutes a day (less is ok) and include your prayer and an up-to-date status on your actions and fasting.
  3. For video purposes, talk to the camera like you would talk to God. If you feel uncomfortable with the camera, you can put the lens cap on and just use the audio.
  4. Pray for an action during the day to glorify God and/or reflect on your actions of the day before (be specific in the action)
  5. Pray about your fast and how God can help you.
  6. Pray for something specific in your life that you have been struggling with or need help with. Ask for God’s guidance and wisdom.
  7. Be as animated as you want to be… you can walk around, scream, yell, hug the camera, etc.
  8. Before you start recording, write on a piece of paper or white board the day number and date. e.g. Day 1, Wednesday November 14th.

I don’t think we’ve been too animated yet and we haven’t hugged the camera, but we are three days into the “fast” and already this is proving to be a very good activity for us as a couple. I’m debating whether or not to post our short video clips online to YouTube or just turn them all in to the church and see what the editor comes up with when he pieces all these together. I think there are about 5 other couples or individuals doing this “fast.” Our church youth leadership team is in charge of putting this together, I think for Lent next year as they discuss fasting and focus.

I have had friends who have fasted for short periods of time (generally fasting by not eating during the day) and have found it to be very worthwhile in terms of helping them focus and renew their commitment to something. For me personally, I knew that what I needed to give up in my fast was computer use during the evenings. I love to read, write, podcast, etc., but technology use in the evening has also become an obstacle to other things that I need and want to do– spending time in conversation with my wife after the kids are in bed, reading books, just being quiet and still and enjoying a cup of hot tea.

Another thing that is immediately apparent is that this fast is going (and has already) gotten Shelly and I praying together regularly each evening. We’ve been married for 11 years and have known that we need to pray together regularly– we do at meals, but the efforts we’ve made in the past to pray together at night have not been sustained. Generally I go to bed later, we are both quite tired at the end of the day… the reasons go on and on. It is wonderful to be connecting with each other in the evenings now and being more in touch with what is going on in each other’s lives to a much greater degree.

Shelly commented last night that time like this together each evening is what she thinks she wanted more than anything in the first year when we were married. Perhaps this is what every bride wants. It really is great. I realized last night that part of what this is teaching me (and we’re just 3 days into the fast) is to be happy with doing less. Simplifying life means REMOVING things so that the things which are “left” are important and worthy of valuation. I think this is true for material objects as well as activities. So, even though I have a ton of podcasts to publish from the recent conference I attended, and lots of blog entries I want to write… I am having to do more prioritization and just be content not “doing” so much.

Another big benefit is that I am getting and will be getting a lot more sleep. Interestingly I have noticed the last two nights already that I am remembering more dreams– I don’t know if this is a function of sleeping deeper or what. I rarely ever remember dreaming at night– so it will be interesting to see how this (or if this) continues.

The fact that we have a wood-burning fireplace here in our Oklahoma house makes evening time even better. I LOVE making and enjoying wood fires, I’m not comparing or trying to say that my old stuff is better than you new “ SmartlyHeated” homes or anything like that.  Now that it is cold at night, the combination of a wood fire, a hot cup of tea and my wife to converse with is a great combination. I am very glad we are participating in this “fasting” for 40 days project, and look forward to learning and growing even more as the project continues. 🙂

5 comments

  • Thank you, for sharing this.

    My friend and I were just discussing this same topic as I am dealing with still looking for a job — and though I know God is in control — I am still struggling. We talked about fasting, and being in the word more, and listening (rather than talking) to God. And then I come home to read your blog.

    If I might, may I join you during this 40 days of fasting — though I know I will start a bit late?? And at the end – perhaps we can share what we learned.

    Grins — I have no spouse (or fireplace) of which to enjoy — but I have a pet that has been neglected since I have spent way to much time at my computer and perhaps an evening walk might even get added to the picture.

    Thank you again for your transparency and for sharing your walk ad you continually strive toward Christlikeness.

    Jennifer

  • I typically might avoid this type of challenge as it requires some major adjustments…..I’ll await your reports. What if I make a fire but still watch TV?…with my kids? Would that be anything?
    Maybe not.

  • Though I read this post when it first went up, I recent incident caused be to come back to it. My family are all connected to a computer each evening, annd though we do set aside some quite family time each week, it never seemed to be enough. Well while doing some yard work to prepare for the winter I accidently cut the cable – no internet. It would be three days including the weekend. At first we were stressed but it was a glorious weekend for the family. So now we are thinking a tech free weekend each month. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Jen: Of course I’ll be delighted to share and visit with you during or after your own fast– at whatever point you start!

    Dean: I think steps we take which help us gain more clarity on the priorities we have for our lives are in the right direction, we certainly don’t have a formula here, more of a recipe that needs to be customized to fit the needs and context of each person.

    Beth: Thanks for sharing your story. Time out from technological connections can definitely provide more time for face to face dialog. I’m glad to hear your family had a great internet-free weekend! 🙂

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