Day 7 – Challenge Complete

We’ve completed the challenge – 7 days of intentionally spending more time with God than we do watching/reading the news or on social media. We should pat ourselves on the back 🙂

On the last day of the challenge, I was able to spend about an hour and a half in quiet time with God – praying and reading the Bible. Also on Day 7, I logged 12 minutes on Facebook.

On the surface, the challenge was a success. Over a period of 7 days, I was able to spend more time with God each day than I did scrolling Facebook.

I accomplished my goal.

But I don’t want to fool myself into thinking I “won” just because I met the challenge.

This exercise brought other issues to the surface.

For example, even in successfully completing the challenge according to the original terms explained by my pastor, my focus on God this week wasn’t necessarily genuine. I realized that much of the time was spent trying not to look at Facebook rather than on trying to spend more time with God. I avoided Facebook as much as I could; that was my focus. I concentrated on what I shouldn’t do rather than on what I should do.

That is legalism, and I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to focus on the outward and ignore the inward. I want my heart to change.

Instead of concerning myself with what I shouldn’t do, I should make looking at God the focus of my energy. In reality, Facebook isn’t the enemy. An unguarded heart and eyes that don’t focus on God are the enemy.

Also, because of the challenge, I was forced to acknowledge other things I do throughout the day that take my focus off God, even once I drastically cut time on Facebook.

Using the Screen Time setting on my smartphone to log my daily phone usage, I could tell that I spent fewer minutes on Facebook than I normally do. But, while I logged less time on that app, time on other applications increased, taking Facebook’s place. For example, most days this week, I spent more than an hour a day texting.

This reiterates something I already learned – I shouldn’t focus on not scrolling on Facebook (because I might be tempted to simply fill in that time with something else on my phone). I should focus instead on keeping my eyes on God. If I do that, many of the other things should fall away on their own.

However, there was still rich quiet time with God this week, and time spent with God is never wasted.

What did I learn during our time in prayer and in reading the Bible?

I was reminded that God will make a way.

I was reminded, through a friend’s input, that all God wants is me – nothing fancy – just my genuine desire to simply be with him. I don’t need to worry about meeting a challenge. I don’t need to attempt to check “quiet time with God” off my to-do list for the day. I just need to be in His presence.

That is refreshing and freeing. There is no singular right way to spend time with God. I don’t need to set a timer or watch a clock to be sure I do it for a certain amount of time. I don’t need to read a certain number of scriptures from the Bible. I don’t need to pray for a certain number of prayer needs. I don’t need to make sure I sit in the same position or in the same place every time. I just need to get still and quiet and listen to and talk with God.

What about you? Would you say the challenge was a success for you? What did you learn through this exercise?

How do you feel after 7 days of focusing more on God than on news outlets or social media? Compare your current mood or attitude right now to how you felt when you first read about the challenge? Feel free to share here.

Whatever the outcome for you, let’s continue to concentrate on God. Let’s continue to weed out the things in our lives that cause us to lose focus on Him. When God shows us stumbling blocks, let’s remove them.

After all, the idea is to keep our minds and hearts on Jesus – not to spend less time looking at news outlets or scrolling Facebook.

Give God first place. Top priority.

Have faith in Him

Obey Him

Follow Him

Look at Him

Day 5 – Challenge Update

We have two more days left on our challenge. This week, we have been encouraging each other to spend more time with God than we do reading/watching the news. This idea came from my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday, and I have been trying to keep it to the best of my ability.

How have you done with the challenge so far?

On day 5, I only managed a short amount of quiet time – probably less than 30 minutes. So, I kept away from Facebook as much as possible – only logging 6 minutes.

If you’ve just now found this challenge, today is your day 1. You can go back and read the first few messages that explain the challenge and my previous updates. Let me know that you’ve joined us and how you’re doing on the challenge.

***To help you get an idea of what a quiet time could be like, I asked a variety of people to share what they do to spend time with God. Here’s what Krystil had to say –

I think the best way to start a quiet time is just to start. It sounds simplistic, but I think it actually is. Too often we make this out to be more complicated than it needs to be. I try to remember that God just wants time with me. Whatever that looks like, He wants my heart to desire Him. And He always knows my intent. So whether I’m doing it first thing in the morning, which is my personal preference, or if I’m doing it in the afternoon at work, or if I’m doing it before I go to bed, He desires me. I try to let that keep me from worrying about the “how.” But I do try to make it a discipline since I always prioritize the things that are most important to me. 

Honestly, I think there is value in just opening the Word and reading it and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you. However, having a guide can help a lot. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve done commentaries, journaling, topical studies, etc. They’ve all worked for different seasons of my life. And they do help me stay focused. But I’ve also done reading through books of the Bible and asking God to show me what He wanted me to know. 

Right now, as a new mom, I don’t have the leisure of just sitting in the morning in front of my Bible like I used to. So I use my morning time while I’m pumping to read. There is a devotional book that I read that also gives a scripture passage to study. So I read the devotional first and then I read the scripture passage. That sometimes leads me to other studies, and I just wait to see what the Lord points out to me. I also use my Bible app in the morning because it is the most convenient right now. But my favorite thing to do when I have down time is to actually open my Bible and spend time reading through a book. I often use The Bible Project videos for greater insight into whatever I’m reading at the time. 

Time varies but on average half an hour. Before my daughter, roughly an hour before work. 

I’m 37 (38 next month), married, teacher, mom, staying home now but normally working full time. 

Day 3 Update: God Will Make a Way

Yesterday was Day 3 of the challenge for me.

I was able to have about an hour and 15 minutes of quiet time with the Lord in the morning, and logged about 19 minutes on my Facebook app on my phone yesterday.

However, as I was looking through the other stats tracked by the Screen Time app on my iPhone, I noticed that I spent an hour and 50 minutes on Safari (the web browser), 1 hour 15 minutes texting/reading texts, 50 minutes in my Fitbit app, and 43 minutes in my email. That’s a total of 4 hours looking at my phone – and that doesn’t take into account other things I spent a shorter amount of time on.

I don’t want to obsess over these numbers, but I have to be aware of how much my phone is still in front of my face.

I’m avoiding Facebook as I set out to do at the start of this challenge, so I’m not stressing out over coronavirus or other world events, but I’m obviously continuing to crowd my mind with a lot of other “stuff.” That “stuff” is still consuming more of my time than I am giving to God each day.

I was processing that information during my quiet time this morning while I prayed and read my Bible – the book of Ezra, chapter 7.

In this chapter, the Persian king Artaxerxes commissioned a Jewish scribe named Ezra to go back to Jerusalem and take a group of exiles. Ezra was charged with teaching God’s law to the exiles that had returned and begun to rebuild the city. To assist Ezra, the king sent money and supplies from the royal treasury and proclaimed that Ezra should have any other resources from anywhere in the province that he needed for the temple or the carry out his job as he saw fit.

Go back and reread that paragraph. I’ll wait for you…

Can you imagine? A great king of a pagan nation (one of the greatest powers at the time) doing all this to advance the work of a God he doesn’t even believe in?!

That is the power and might of God. He controls the hearts of even the most powerful kings and rulers! God’s administration is mightier than any other on earth that ever has been or ever will be.

I realized when I read this: God will make a way!

Through a pandemic. A financial crisis. Job loss. Death. Destruction. Unrest. Uncertainty. Whatever else may happen personally or globally.

God will make a way!

Say that to yourself right now.

If it didn’t make you exhale that breath you’ve been holding for a while, say it again with emphasis:


I’m not saying it will be easy. We know there will be suffering, and some of it will be our own.

But, God will make a way.

We may screw up.

Maybe you were consumed by news stories yesterday. At the end of the day, you realized you focused more on what was happening in our world than you did on God.

It’s ok.

Don’t throw up your hand and say, “I quit. I failed. I can’t do this challenge.”

NO! Acknowledge that you didn’t do so well, ask God to forgive you, ask Him to strengthen and help you today, and move on.

God will make a way.

Maybe you’re doing ok staying away from the specific thing you were trying to avoid (for instance I challenged myself to decrease my time on Facebook), but now you realize you’re filling the time with other things – you’re not focused on God like you should be.

Start again. It’s a new day, and God gives us new grace every day.

God will make a way.

If God can move the heart of a pagan king and use that king and his kingdom to do God’s will (and we have examples of God doing that many times throughout the Bible, not just with Artaxerxes in the book of Ezra), then God can take care of you and me.

God will make a way.

How was Day 3 for you? Are you able to spend more time with God that you do on news or social media?

Do you see a difference in your mood or attitude?

How is God speaking to you during this time?

Please share updates with us.

***To help you get an idea of what a quiet time could be like, I asked a variety of people to share what they do to spend time with God. Here’s what Deborah Ross of Deborah Ross Ministries had to say:

My Quiet Time With God:

  • Generally, I love to spend my mornings eating a slow breakfast and drinking hot coffee while inquiring of the Holy Spirit to reveal to me God’s heart in light of current events of the day.
  • I try to walk my neighborhood most days while listening to my Bible App and/or praying. 
  • When I am curious about something in God’s Word (perhaps I don’t fully understand the meaning or I have more questions about history or I want a deeper knowledge of that topic) I love to use my Strong’s Bible Online Concordance to study. I also use Webster’s Dictionary some. The Holy Spirit will usually prompt me to look up other passages of scripture that give more insight on that topic. I love going deep with God!
  • Many times while putting on my makeup and doing my hair, I listen to my Bible App.
  • Every Tuesday morning I host a prayer call for ladies in my ministry leadership group.
  • I love waking up early on Sunday mornings and spending 1-2 hours digging into God’s Word before heading out to church to teach my Women’s Life Group.
  • My most frequent prayer times are: laying in bed at night; driving my car; walking; doing house chores
  • My most powerful prayer times are: while fasting
  • My most desperate prayer times are: on my knees beside of my bed
  • My most intimate prayer times are: during praise and worship (either corporately or individually – singing, dancing and listening)
  • My most sacred prayer times are: when I pray in the Spirit (my prayer language)
  • I try to keep my conversations clear of gossip and all about God as much as possible. Always looking for ways to bring faith, love, hope and God’s Word into the conversation. 
  • When I have a crisis, I run to God first.
  • When I have a health issue, I run to God first.
  • When I have a financial issue, I run to God first.
  • When I have a relationship issue, I run to God first.
  • I only seek advice from my husband and strong women of God whom I know are gut-wrenchingly honest overcomers. I want my faith built up for my personal pathway to victory; therefore, I avoid getting advice from people who would lead me down a path of fear, defeat or self-pity.
  • Before I get out of bed each day, I purpose myself to be blessed and to expect God’s favor. No matter what trial I am going through, every day is a special day in the Lord.

Deborah G Ross

Occupation: Christian Evangelist – Speaker / Author / Media Professional / TV Host

Official Brand: Deborah Ross Ministries

Works from Home with Travel for Special Events both Nationally and Internationally

Born August 1962 (currently 57 – I’ll be 58 this August)

Married since 1984

2 Adult Sons

1 Grandchild

Official Ministry Website: 

Professional Website:

Branch Ministry Website / Marriage:

Branch Ministry Website / Women:

Day 2 – Challenge Update

How are you doing with the challenge? Are you able to focus more on God than news or social media?

How have you altered your routine?

Do you feel any changes in your mood? Your attitude?

On Day 2, I got 45 minutes of quiet time in the morning, and my phone tracked 35 minutes on Facebook.

On Monday, Day 1 for me, I was just about too scared to even open the Facebook app because I didn’t want to run up the time, so yesterday, Day 2,I tried to relax a little. There needs to be balance. I need to be informed, but I don’t want to be influenced.

When I got on Facebook, I tried not to scroll or get caught up watching videos. I opened the app, and went straight to do what I wanted to do : check notifications, post something, reply to people’s comments, then close the app and move on.

I took phone into the bathroom with me a time or two 😉 But, overall I tried to keep my hands off of it as much as possible.

I don’t want to obsess over it either way because obsessing over being on Facebook too much is just as bad as being on Facebook too much.

The point is to learn to focus on God, so rather than focus on what I’m not supposed to do, it would be best to focus on what I am supposed to – God.

Looking at God should be the focus instead of not looking at Facebook.

For Day 3, I pray we find our focus is on God more.

***To help you get an idea of what a quiet time could be like, I asked some family, friends and church family to share what they do to spend time with God. Here’s what Meggan had to say:

I try to get up around 5pm then work out from 5:30-6:30 Monday-Friday then I start my devotions.

I have found the easiest thing for me is a daily devotional book with scripture to look up at the end, then I have my prayer time. Right now I’m reading, “New Morning Mercies A Daily Gospel Devotional” by Paul David Tripp.

If the kids haven’t gotten up yet, by then I may do further Bible study or spend a few minutes talking to my hubby if he is at home and not at the fire station.

My husband and I are 34, married 13 years and he is a firefighter. I am a mom of four busy girls (ages 15,8,6,and 2), owner of a salon and also work behind the chair. I find that it really helps to start my day off right with both physical exercise and spiritual devotion time with the Lord.

How Did You Do On Day 1?

Our Challenge: For one week, spend more time with God than you spend watching news outlets or scrolling social media.

How’d you do on Day 1?

I enjoyed 45 minutes of quiet time yesterday morning in prayer and reading/studying scripture before my children woke up. According to my phone’s usage tracker, I spent 5 minutes on Facebook and 7 minutes on Facebook messenger. (On the iPhone, go to Settings>Screen Time>Turn On Screen Time. You can set schedules and restrictions as needed. I will mostly use the data it keeps each day about which apps you use the most, how many times you pick up the phone, etc).

Compared to last Friday when I spent 1 hour on Facebook and last Sunday when I spent 2 1/2 hours on Facebook (excuse me, WHAT?!), yesterday went pretty well for me. (See, I told you I had a major Facebook problem).

Obviously, yesterday was a huge change for me, but I want this to be a permanent change. I pray I can stay focused and determined to look to God rather than social media from now on.

Yesterday, I made a list of specific ways to decrease my time on Facebook…some changes I made in the past, and others I started yesterday when I started my pastor’s challenge. You could modify these to fit your needs.

One big thing I resolved to do a while back was to give God my attention first thing in the morning. For several years now, I have made it a point to get up earlier than everyone in my house and have a quiet time of prayer and Bible study.

As part of this, I try not to look at Facebook or email or Instagram or another else like that on my phone until after I have spent time with God. I have roughly an hour for time alone with God each morning because I purposefully get up before everyone else. (I usually do this on the week days and sleep in on the weekends, but I feel God’s conviction to put him first every day of the week and know I need to be obedient to that).

Maybe you could try putting God first each morning. Make a pact with yourself not to do anything on your phone, not to turn on a TV news show, or not to pick up a newspaper (whatever your biggest temptation and waster-of-time is) until after you’ve spent time in prayer with God and reading the Bible.

A long time ago, I turned off notifications for Facebook and email so I wouldn’t hear the ding or see the green check mark on the apps’ icons on my phone screen. (When I add new apps, I don’t allow them to send me notifications). The sounds and visual notifications draw too much attention. Once I turned them off, I was less likely to pick up the phone and think it was absolutely necessary to check Facebook or email.

Yesterday, I tried leaving my phone in my bedroom (ringer volume up so I could hear calls or texts). It seemed to help that it wasn’t in the same room with me. It within reach so I could pick it up and quickly scroll Facebook when I needed a distraction.

Also, I decided not to take the phone into the bathroom with me (enough said about that one, right?)

How do you put God first?

What helpful hints can you share about decreasing your time on social media or news outlets? What works for you?

I’d like to hear from you. How did you do yesterday?

{If you didn’t meet your goal for spending more time with God yesterday than you did on social media or news, don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day. Set another goal. Make a plan with small, specific steps to take to help you achieve that goal on a daily basis. Tell your spouse or a friend what you’re trying to do and ask them to hold you accountable each day. Most importantly – pray.}

What if there might be a way to feel less afraid during this time of pandemic and social unrest?

How much time do you spend each day scrolling through social media or watching/reading news outlets?

Has this amount of time increased during the pandemic?

How do you feel right now?  

Honestly, stop and think about it. 

Are you anxious? Upset? Sad? Angry? Afraid? Content? Excited?

Sit quietly for a moment and take stock of yourself, then write it down, including today’s date.

Many of us use daily news sources to keep up with what’s going on in our world.

Many turn to social media to stay in touch with family and friends, as our source of news on current events, or for an escape from our day.

But, excess time spent on these things, especially when coupled with a lack of time spent alone with God, will have a negative influence on you.

During his sermon yesterday, our pastor issued a challenge to the congregation.  (It felt impromptu.  I don’t think this was something he planned as part of his Sunday message.  This was something the Holy Spirit laid on his heart in the moment).

He first mentioned it as an aside…something like, “By the way, we ought to be spending more time each day focused on God rather than on watching the news…more time reading the Bible than reading the paper.”

To me, his point was that we had to keep our eyes on God so we don’t drown in all the negativity around us right now, especially as portrayed by the news media.

Our pastor mentioned it a few times in the beginning of his sermon, then he stopped and issued a formal challenge:

Spend more time with God this week than you do looking at the news…and let me know about it.

In my life, this means less time on social media, especially Facebook.

I can’t tell you how many hours a day I waste scrolling Facebook posts.  (Actually, I could tell you if I’d used the Screen Time control in my iPhone settings. It’s turned on, but I rarely look at the data…guess I’ll have to start using it this week). 

Consequently, Facebook is also my source for news, and that’s scary because that means I’m getting information mostly secondhand, from another person’s post rather than directly from a news outlet…which may or may not be more unbiased and credible, if I’m being honest.  

(By the way, that’s exactly how I learned about George Floyd’s murder, through a Facebook friend’s comment about not being able to breath.  I didn’t understand the reference, and it was still a little while before I actually found out what happened and connected it back to the post).

So, I accept my pastor’s challenge and offer it to you as well: spend more time with God each day than you do on social media or news outlets.

Try it for at least a week.  Let’s see if it makes a difference. 

As we go through the week focusing more on God, pay attention to yourself and how you feel, how you react to things, how you respond to people, etc., especially compared to right now, before you start the challenge.

Does your stress level change?  Your outlook?  Your focus?  

What has God said to you this week?  (You may be surprised to hear from Him again or maybe for the first time once you’ve cleaned out some of the excess noise).

I’m going to try to share each day how I’m doing in the challenge.  I’d like to hear from you, too. Please comment here or contact me through the blog’s “Contact” link, and let me know how things are going. I’ll try to follow up through the week with my own updates as well as any tips and tricks I’ve found helpful.