All inventions have their unforeseen downsides. Who could have known in the early 1950s that TV would raise a generation of zombies, or in the 1980s that South Korea would someday have boot camps for video game-addicted teenagers?
I noticed I was checking the comments on my online columns too often. It only takes a minute to see who has contributed a thought to my bread cast on the water. But a minute here and a minute there, and pretty soon you have a wasted day—especially when you consider not only the time for checking itself but also the loss of momentum on other daily occupations.
So I said to the Lord, “Lord, help me to only check my WORLD comments twice a day.” There, that was done, and now I could go on with my life.
The problem is that my recidivism was swift. At first I held the line at two times a day. But then, since there was no law after all—either of man or of God—that prohibited more frequent dipping, my visits to the site crept up to former levels again.
Seeing that I was getting nowhere, I tried a different tact and a different kind of prayer. After some reflection I said to the Lord, “Lord, I will only check my WORLD comments twice a day.”
This kind of praying has proved to be much more effective, and I have kept to a morning and evening pattern.
What was the difference? Fear of the Lord, for one thing. Sometimes we can use the concept of waiting for God to answer prayer as an excuse for lackluster living or postponing obedience. Try both of these prayers on your lips, one after the other, and see how different they feel:
“Lord, help me stop beating my dog.”
“Lord, I will stop beating my dog.”
You see? But is it presumption to commit to the Lord to stop beating your dog, or to stop cheating on your income tax? Nay, it is obedience. Job, a man much commended by God, took an oath before God to not look at a woman with lust (Job 31:1). Another man may also make up his mind before God to not marry (1 Corinthians 7:37). The Christian life is not flaccid but muscular. It is not cheap grace but the grace to keep our vows before the Lord (Psalm 50:14).