The conveniences and immediate gratifications of the twenty-first century have brought many benefits to our lives. With just a couple clicks we can have groceries assembled for us, we can send a message and receive a response in a matter of seconds, and we can video chat with someone across the globe as if they were next door. The age of “now” has arrived. At least the age for instant gratification and instant communication.
While technology and communication have made these changes in speed, we as humans still seem to be a people of tomorrow. Want to lose weight? Start tomorrow. Want to start exercising? Start tomorrow. Want to reach out to an elderly relative? Tomorrow. Want to spend more time in prayer, maybe tomorrow. The rapid technology of today perhaps has even contributed to making us a people of tomorrow. With the news ready to read with live updates, people doing more things for us, having food dropped off at our doorsteps, we have become accustomed to the niceties of now.
The dangers these conveniences place on our souls cannot go unaddressed. While we can have other people select our groceries, mail us a new DVD player and wash our cars for us, we cannot instant message someone to work out our salvation for us.
The more we become isolated in the walls of our house, the more we can tell ourselves that the world where we live is not so bad. We can more easily ignore the suffering down the street, the poverty around the world, and the more we become accustomed to not having to do things ourselves. The comforts of our earthly lives has a dangerous ending for our spiritual lives.
What is the biggest aspect of our spiritual lives that is crowded out by conveniences of now? I would argue that it is prayer. Prayer can take a few seconds, yet the excuses that we can muster for not praying are many. Excuses like “I don’t have time to pray” and “I forgot to pray,” are shocking realities of our modern world. With instant access to millennia of information and with so many distractions, these excuses seem to make a lot of sense.
Have we forgotten what Saint Paul says in Philippians 2:12? “[w]ork out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.” We cannot work out our salvation with our feet kicked up on the coffee table while we peruse the Target app for the latest Instant Pot. We cannot work out our salvation while we are mindlessly scanning the news for two hours. If these are the reasons that we do not have time for prayer, we need an instant reevaluation of how we are living our lives. If tomorrow we will pray more, we have a problem.
In the comforts of our day and age, we have forgotten to “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” that the Lord is returning. (Matt. 25:13) We must catch up with our times and become a people of now. Perhaps the most accessible way that we can stay awake is through prayer. Not tomorrow, but today, now. We don’t have to spend hours in long elaborate prayer. We don’t have to have all the right words to say. The simplest prayer, the sign of the cross, takes a second or two to pray. The Angel of God prayer takes a few seconds more. A prayer of thanks can take a sentence of our time. Prayer is an instant connection and communication with God. And it is much more long lasting than a Zoom call to an old college roommate. Does it occur to us as we peruse the latest news to pray for the suffering? How can we sit and mindlessly scroll the news without pausing to pray for each and every person about whom we read? Do we say a prayer of thanks for the person who dropped off our Amazon package or have we forgotten that those people are real people who would benefit from prayer? The stuff we can have now is really convenient. But the prayer we can have now will last us for eternity. Let us not let the technology of now make our faith a thing of tomorrow.