(Photo by Andrew Preble on Unsplash)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The other day, I got on the internet before work and saw an article entitled Starting Your Day on the Internet is Damaging Your Brain by Srinivas Rao. I was on my laptop looking up lyrics for a song but clicked on the article instead. It piqued my interest, especially since I was on the internet early in the morning. As I was reading, I realized that after giving scientific reasons why the internet, mainly social media, is damaging our brains when we get on first thing in the morning, the author also gave us an alternative way to start our day. As I read, I was struck by the similarities between the way Rao gave us and how Christians are encouraged to start their morning, except we do it with God.
Rao says when he begins his mornings with twenty minutes of meditation, he is better able to focus and less likely to crave distractions. Meditation brings a calmness to his life. How would we, as Christians, meditate? Begin your morning in the Word. Think about what you read and what God is saying to you. Let the Word bring you in tune with God. Align your will to His as you begin your day. You are renewing your mind so you will not copy ungodly behaviors that you encounter in the world daily (Rom 12:2). You are letting His Word bring calmness and focus to your day. If the world finds value in meditation without God, imagine the benefits of meditating with and on God. Anything you do with God is better than what you do without Him. I cannot think of a better way to meditate than on what God is saying to you from Scripture.
Rao's advice is to read books rather than the internet. He says people who read on the internet tend to scan, not read. He claims he gets far more value from reading a physical book than he does reading the same book on kindle. He spends an hour reading each morning. I immediately thought of reading the Bible. Last week on the radio, a call-in show posed the question, "Would you rather read the physical Bible or read it online?" I do tons of research online for my blogs, but I also have many books and commentaries I use. But when it comes to reading Scripture, I prefer having a hard copy.
Believers can grow and learn and get inspired by reading books, especially Christian books for spiritual health, but nothing beats reading the Bible. I always remind my readers that the Word of God is living and active and that includes the written word. You can have an attitude of "I've read this before so I don't know what else I can learn," or you can say, "I wonder what new thing God will show me in His Word today?"
Writing down what God is saying is always good. It's a way of remembering. Reading it aloud is another step you can take in making what God says more real for you. For many people, writing your thoughts is a way of processing. This is true for me, and as a Christian, I always write my thoughts to God and let Him speak to my mind and in my spirit, or through Scripture. Rao says he journals for thirty minutes every morning but says little else about it.
Rao meditates, reads, and journals, in that order, but I do these things in reverse order. First I journal, then I open the Bible and read, and after that, meditate on what I'm reading and write down more thoughts. There is always an aspect of listening to God in all three.
Rao isn't addressing spiritual matters, and I have only taken what he said and compared it to how I start my mornings. I see a similarity in what he does and what I do with God as a believer. I didn't address prayer or praise and worship which are also important aspects of spending time with God. I sometimes get to prayer on mornings I don't have to go to work, but more often than not, prayer happens before I go to sleep, or while I'm driving. Many mornings I wake up with lyrics to a song in my head. I always think God is communicating with me, and the song is something He wants me to listen to, so even before I journal, I will often bring up the song on the internet, and play it.
Because I get up so early and have to be to work at 5 am, I spend less overall time doing these three things than Rao's does. Other times, like a few mornings ago, I get distracted. I click on an article and read it, and inadvertently, my time with God shrinks. But look how God was able to use it for good anyway. I used it to write this blog. I'm not sure I have paid enough attention to if my day goes better when I spend focused time on God as opposed to when I get distracted by the internet in the morning, but I agree there is something to what Rao says. Starting your morning on the internet checking emails, Facebook, or Twitter may be setting you up for giving in to distractions throughout the day. But neither Rao's way or social media will ever be able to compete with the value of starting your morning with God.