Our summer holiday this year was good. We spent a week in the West Country experiencing sun, enjoying time together as a family, and relaxing. It’s impossible to say what was the best bit because so much was genuinely good. But one of the most important aspects was the way I couldn't access my emails. I only used my phone as a camera. It was bliss to minimise all the usual distractions.
The growth of electronic communication gives the impression we should be available all the time. It feels disloyal to friends or work to wait before responding. In fact, we now know the profound damage caused when a person feels constantly ‘on call’. We almost feel a sense of being hunted. We feel drained. The symptoms can be very similar to post-traumatic stress. Prayer and spirituality can seem like ‘just another thing to do’.
So we need time to go away. That ‘away’ can involve a physical retreat, or maybe just time spent with God after deliberately walking away from the TV and phone, and switching off the computer.
Taking time away from ordinary life gives greater scope for spending time with God because (for most of us) spending quality time with God is one of the first casualties of busyness. Perhaps that’s why Jesus tells us to go into a quiet room and close the door before praying (Matthew 6).
If we feel like this about the frantic pace of modern life (and all the surveys suggest that most of do), then we need to take time out and with deliberation carve out time from our busy lives to pray. God loves us and wants our attentive love.