TV vs Prayer

Watching the Emmys last night I got excited about all the shows I love starting up again in the coming weeks. One of the few things I like about Fall.

Not that I haven’t been a TV fiend during the fallow months of summer reruns. Thanks to Netflix I’ve watched entire seasons of old British shows (is there anything so comforting as As Time Goes By?) and The Dog Whisperer. Somehow, in all the busyness of applying to be missionaries, starting fundraising, kicking-off Sunday and youth group at church and not to mention a puppy, I still managed to fit in hours of TV.

And then I had a painful moment of perspective.

It happened around 5 a.m. this morning, when the puppy woke me up with unusually early whining to be taken out. After running around the yard for a few minutes he was ready to go back to his crate. I tried to get back to sleep but I just lay there for an hour, thinking.

Probably because I watched the Emmys last night, my thoughts turned to TV shows and last season’s cliff hangers. I spent time guessing what surprises this season would hold and what new shows I should add to my roster. When all of a sudden, I thought: “Hi God, I’ve been up for awhile and have time on my hands but I guess I was too busy pondering TV shows to talk to you.”

I lay there embarrassed, envying Nick his sleepy oblivion.

I started to calculate how many hours a day I spend in front of a TV screen versus in prayer. The number is too shameful to admit. Also, I hate math so my attempt to calculate was quickly abandoned. But anecdotal evidence points to a very sad discrepancy between time in prayer versus time watching TV.

Not that I have anything against watching TV. There are a lot of funny, interesting and creative shows out there. Some more intelligent than others, some more edifying than others. And I think it’s ok to curl up and watch an episode or two at the end of the day or when you’re sick or when you need a break. But to watch INSTEAD of doing what is good, right and frankly a source of joy in life, is a very sad thing indeed.

And while I do believe in taking time apart to pray and focus on that alone, I think a rich prayer life means also praying as you go about your day, talking to God as you make your daily encounters. Which is why, another problem I personally have with TV is that I get very involved. I start to ponder the plot line of Bones in the middle of emails rather than focus on the friend I’m writing to. Or I decide to watch Start Trek TNG (yes it’s true, I’m a trekkie) while working on presentations. And I confess to crying at the season finale of Gossip Girl several years in a row.

I hate to admit to such sloth, distraction and emotional involvement in what amounts to a soap opera. But perhaps admitting it here, red-faced and anxious of judgement, will help me try a bit harder in the future.

And take time to pray.

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