This Lent, Make Your Smartphone Dumb Again

By Deacon Will Chester

Want to make space for prayer? Turn your phone into a dumb phone! 

Before Lent, I try to think about how to make more space in my life for prayer. And year after year, the first barrier that comes to mind is my phone. 

When I’m too distracted or busy to read my Bible, I can always find thirty minutes to scroll news headlines or Twitter. 

When I’m too tired to pray before bed, I’m almost never too tired to watch an episode or a few YouTube shorts (or even a few hundred!)

If you’re like me, you’ve already researched the “Light Phone” and other options for downgrading from your smartphone to a dumber, but still functional, device. 

But perhaps also like me, you’ve found that these options are expensive. Or, you’ve been stuck between the upside of having a less distracting device and the downside of going without helpful tools like group messaging, maps, and a camera.

Well, what if I told you that there was a way to keep your smartphone, but make it work for you and not against you? 

This Lent, I’m taking steps to turn my smartphone into a dumbphone: I’m keeping the essentials and cutting the rest. You can easily find guides for iPhones and Androids that make use of Parental Control features in your settings.

Here are a few tips: 

  1. Find a buddy – changing your settings probably isn’t enough. You’ll also need to password protect it so you can’t go and change them back in a moment of weakness. Find a friend who can join you and have them input their passcode. That’ll keep you from changing the settings and ensure that no one forgets the passcode once Lent is over!
  2. Block everything that isn’t a tool – your brain will find a way to make even the most boring apps entertaining. So don’t just block Youtube and Safari–block RedFin and Zillow, NYTimes and Wall Street Journal. Block everything that gives you a reason to be mindless on your phone instead of mindful. Oh, and make sure to block your ability to download new apps from the app store.

  3. Turn your phone to grayscale – It’s hideous, I know. But that’s the point. We’re trying to look less at our phones and more at the world around us. 

Look, finding it difficult to pray doesn’t all come down to your smartphone. At some point, you and I are just going to have to choose to set aside time and pray. But there are things we can do to make that choice easier. 

Deacon Will Chester serves as Youth and College Pastor at Resurrection.


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