by Tom Goodman
February 17, 2016
A routine of daily prayer and meditation is tough to develop. In fact, we'd rather apply electric shocks to ourselves than sit alone and think.
That's the finding of a widely reported study published in Science. When psychologists simply asked people to sit alone with their thoughts and report on the
experience, few liked it. But would people so dislike sitting inactive that they'd rather engage in a mildly unpleasant activity? To find out, researchers left people alone in a room with nothing but an electrical shock device.
Two-thirds of men and a quarter of women preferred to administer tiny jolts to themselves rather than do nothing. The average was about 7 times in 15 minutes, though one man managed 190 zaps in that time frame.
Blaise Pascal would not have been surprised. Even back in the 17th century he wrote, "If our condition were truly happy we should feel no need to divert ourselves from thinking about it." Without distractions, we're forced to examine the
worth of our assumptions and behaviors and priorities. Maybe that's why even those of us who are Christians prefer to start our day with our mobile devices instead of our Bibles.
But Jesus often withdrew from the crowd for private prayer (Matthew 26:36, Luke 9:18). If he found benefit from it, surely those who follow him will.
Don't be afraid to start your day with a little prayer and Bible study! In my daily reading, I reflect on a text until I can answer three questions:
- What do I need to praise God for?
- What do I need to confess?
- What do I need to ask God for?
It's a simple routine to practice, but over time the results can be profound. Through this practice across the years I've uncovered assumptions I needed to change, or rebellions I needed to surrender, or new roads I needed to take.
Spend some time alone with God today. You may be -- um -- shocked at what you discover!
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