If you have not yet had the opportunity to take 45 minutes to view the conversation on Bloggingheads TV between Fr. James Martin, SJ, and Bill McGarvey of BustedHalo.com on God in the Digital Age - it's definitely worth the time. Fr. Jim, throughout, expresses the concern that our engagement with all things electronic is keeping us from taking quality time to hear the voice of God. However, the deeper question he asks is whether people in today's culture take that time at all.
I know that, like many people, when I first get up, the TV and the computer go on almost immediately. For me, living alone, that is a conscious choice. It is "company" - the assurance that there are indeed other human beings on the planet. Fr. Jim does admit that people form some level of community and connection online - and I have to admit that I rely heavily on Facebook for that. It is comforting to get up and check through the posts from the last 7 or so hours to see what friends from other parts of the world, or the night-owls among them, have been up to - or occasionally to use Facebook chat to connect with my son in the Air Force for a couple of minutes if he happens to log in.
However, Fr. Jim's warning that online community is no substitute for real human face-to-face connection is well-taken. My online connection enriches my personal relationships, but does not substitute for them. I see many of these people at least occasionally, and some I see on a fairly regular basis. Connecting with them through Facebook keeps up a connection when I am not able to see them, and has allowed me to become closer to many of them than I would have otherwise. Some people, I have never met, but the online connection has been definitely enriching. I suppose that is the healthy way to use social networking - as a supplement, not a substitute for, interpersonal relationship. It is an enhancement to my sense of community in the Body of Christ... and beyond (some of my gamer friends are Buddhists and Muslims.)
When it comes to relating to God, I do try to find quiet moments here and there during the day. In the car on the way to work is a great time, but I do also take my cues from online connections for prayer, such as the Loyola Press Daily 3-Minute Retreat, which I have emailed to me, a great reminder to take time for God. Another well-known and good one is SacredSpace.ie . (Notice these are both Jesuit sites?) At various times in my life, I have found Morning Prayer from Liturgy of the Hours, fruitful. Personally, I prefer praying the Office from the book, rather than from the online sites, such as Universalis.com, but these, too, can be useful. Of course, the nighttime before-bed conversation with God is probably the most quality time I spend with God - and myself.
So, how do you take time for prayer? Do you use technology to pray? Do you use a combination of technology and traditional prayer? How has technology changed your sense of Christian community?