Introducing the First Annual “Seven-Day Distraction Fast”
Join me on June 18th and let’s restore our focus on things that matter
Do any of these comments apply to you?
- I realize sometimes I spend more time surfing the web than I do searching the scriptures
- Most every time I watch the news or read news online it leaves me feeling discouraged
- Some days I spend more time talking on social media than I do talking to God
- The enemy knows how to push my buttons and often a good day is ruined by something I read, hear or fixate on
- Some Sundays I have a hard time clearing my mind and focusing on worship and the sermon
- I often feel scattered, I forget where I put things because I have so many things going through my mind
- I often fixate on all the things I have not yet accomplished and it causes me anxiety
- Most everyone else seems to be doing better than me
- Honestly, my ‘to do’ list dictates my life as much as my faith does, maybe more
- I fear I’m missing out on life and sometimes I struggle with envy and resentment
- I can’t remember the last time I spent focused, intentional, quiet time just listening for God’s voice
If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these, you may be suffering from SDS – Spiritual Distraction Syndrome (OK, yes, I made that up, but hang with me). SDS is a highly successful strategy the enemy employs against followers of Jesus. Believers have always faced this temptation, but it’s a growing cancer that has attached itself more to our generation than any before it. It’s fair to say we are a generation under siege from weapons of mass distraction. I can imagine Jesus giving his Sermon on the Mount today, only to be interrupted part way through by a disciple who says, “Oh, sorry Jesus, I was checking a few emails, could you go over that again?”
Humorous, but true? I have long believed that if the enemy cannot succeed in making us unfaithful (denying Christ), he will settle for rendering us ineffective. If he can’t stop us from being Christ followers, he can distract us to such a degree that we lose sight of the One we are following through the interference and amusements we have placed between He and us.
Jesus is still speaking to His followers today, just as He did when He walked the earth. The question is, are we paying attention, are we listening, are we continually drawing near to Him? He is still the Good Shepherd, can we hear His voice through all the noise?
My answer is a clear, ‘no’. I suffer from SDS. (“Hi, I’m Scott, and I’m distracted.”). How about you? If you admit to the same syndrome, then how do we regain our focus, retune our ears, realign our hearts? I propose we all take a Seven-Day Distraction Fast.
Here are the five easy steps to this fast.
1. Read through the following scriptures and listen for how God desires us to be focused on Him
- Matthew 17:5 – Listen to Him
- John 3:29 – Rejoice in hearing His voice
- John 10:3 – His sheep listen to His voice
- Philippians 4:8 – Meditate on what is good
- Psalm 45:10 – Be still
2. Pray for God to reveal Himself to you in new ways during your fast. This is a listening process where we clear away distractions and listen, look and feel our way through these seven days. God may reveal Himself through our eyes, ears, senses or spirit, but be assured, if we draw near to Him, He will draw nearer to us. Be prepared, expectant and waiting like the ten virgins burning their lamps waiting for the bridegroom to arrive.
3. List the things that distract you most. This is where the hard work starts. We all have responsibilities to attend to and work we must do to be faithful stewards and reliable partners in the work of the kingdom. Our boss, clients and co-workers will not likely care that we are on a distraction fast, so we can’t use it as an excuse to slack off in our work.
What we want to list are those unnecessary things we allow to distract us. Activities and actions we undertake that contribute to our loss of time listening to God. And that’s a good clue for what should go on our list. If we’re not spending time listening, watching and waiting quietly for God, how are we spending that time instead? I’ll be somewhat vulnerable here for the sake of example. Here’s five things on my (partial) list:
- Mariners games. We love our Mariners and they are now in first place, but I realize that I spend up to 21 hours a week having the game on. While I try to do other ‘productive’ things during the game, it’s still a distraction. For one week I will cease from watching them, and at the end of the week see how I can enjoy the games without them robbing me of important time with God. (Given that they seem to win every time I’m not watching, this will come as good news to the team’s front office).
- Mindless surfing (web not wave). While I’m not a social media addict, not even close, I am still amazed and frustrated at how the hours can seep away just checking various websites and reading blogs and articles. Some of these are important to my work, but the time invested never seems to equate to the value of the results. Much of it is just mindless surfing.
- TV in general. For my fast, I am going to print out Philippians 4 and tape it to the top of the screen of our TV, “”. I am going to discipline myself to ask those questions of anything I might tune to during the week of my fast. I’m guessing the TV will be off most all week.
- Driving on unnecessary trips. This may seem trivial, but how often do we ‘run to the store’ for something that we really don’t need right now? The time and environmental costs can add up. During my week, I will drive only when absolutely necessary, saving the time on the road for other, more soul-satisfying activities. By saving just 2-3 trips in the week, I can reclaim 3-5 hours. That’s not trivial.
- Worrying and being pre-occupied by finances. I’m a planner, and I can be pulled in to analysis paralysis. I manage five budgets between personal, ministry, publishing, consulting and investments. Each has a plan, I want to be a faithful steward of each. But there is a fine line between stewarding and fixating. This week I will do just what is needed and watch for the temptation to fixation.
4. List the things you allow in your life that steal your peace. This may be a harder list. It requires more soul searching. I want us to examine the voices in our lives that routinely speak anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, anger or discouragement into our spirit. Let me offer just one to get us started.
- News. It’s difficult to read or listen to any news source without it generating a number of these reactions in my spirit. How about you? While it’s important to keep up to date on the affairs of the world, I believe we would be amazed at how a one week fast from all news might allow our hearts to heal, and perhaps how little we would miss it. I plan to have someone who is not on the fast agree to contact me if an event is about to occur that could end life on earth as we know it (comet careening toward earth, nuclear missiles launched in our direction, Kim Kardashian breaks a nail, you know, the really big stuff). Otherwise, I’m tuning out all media.
You may have others; the voice of a family member, the voice of the enemy that comes through things you are reading, listening to or watching, old tapes you play through your mind, etc. The key is to name them, write them down and ask for God’s help to set them aside for this week of fasting.
5. Make time for God, journal what you hear, and make decisions of how you go forward. The first step on our fast is to use the time we have reclaimed and spend it in ways that position you to hear God speak, sense His presence and abide with him. It may be a daily walk, time to sit in your favorite place with an uncluttered mind, having an in-depth conversation with your spouse or a close friend, or reading scripture just for the joy of it. Most importantly, look for signs of God’s goodness and beauty. Be ready to be surprised by what you will see in places and people that surround you every day.
As you sense God’s presence and recognize His goodness and beauty, write it down. Keeping a journal, even if brief, will help you think through what you are experiencing and you can go back to it over the week and see God’s patterns of speaking.
Finally, on day seven, look ahead and decide how you will break the fast. Are there new attitudes, behaviors, actions and attitudes you want to carry into the life ahead? My prayer is that all of us will be changed, and a new journey as more faithful stewards will await us at the end of this fast.
Are you ready? Then select a seven-day period for your fast. I am fasting from June 18th – 23rd and I hope you will join me. I will record a short blog each day to encourage you and to share a little what God is doing in my life. I encourage you to send me your thoughts or record comments that might encourage others on the fast with us. To God be the glory!