This past week I have been using Skype a lot. And I have decided two things:
- Skype is amazing
- Skype sucks
I’ve also decided that the same is true for prayer.
But first let me talk about Skype.
Skype is Amazing
It really is. I can speak to my family in the UK pretty much wherever I am. For free. That’s amazing. I don’t even have to be at my laptop, my phone can get Skype.
Yes, if I’m not connected to wi-fi then the signal can be poor, and the time difference means that in practise the times when we can speak are limited . . . but still, I’m in Japan and I can talk to my family in the UK. So Skype connects me with those I care about most. And for that I say, Skype is amazing.
It really does. Not because of the time-difference or internet connections. No, Skype sucks because of the physical connection – the lack of it, that is.
I don’t just mean that you can’t touch people. Although, clearly you can’t. It’s just the fact that you’re not present, because that makes a huge difference, especially if you’re trying to interact with a group. Now I am clearly a big fan of words – they rock my world, probably more than they should – but even I know that sometimes words are not enough, or even appropriate. Sometimes you just want to be with people. And at those times Skype can only make you appreciate the distance that separates you. And for that I say, Skype sucks.
But let’s be fair to Skype (and the clever folk who created it): it is obviously going to be limited. Distance is distance is distance. Location matters. And other such truisms. Technology can’t change that.
I mean, if Skype was anywhere near the same as being in the same country as people, then I wouldn’t have needed to go to Japan.
Last week highlighted that truth for me (yes, I sometimes need really obvious things highlighting). I went down to Sendai to visit some friends there. It was a great week. We went for drives together, ate food together, and generally hung out together. Now we’d stayed in touch via Skype, Line, etc and we’ll continue to do so. But without doubt, that didn’t make my long trip down to Sendai (I went via local trains to save money, meaning it took me about sixteen hours each way) redundant. Because there’s no substitute for being with folk.
OK I mentioned at the start that I think the same is true for prayer. I should probably explain that.
So at the risk of being irreverent, I think that you could liken prayer to having converstion with God via Skype. On one hand it’s awesome. But at the same time it kinda sucks.
It’s awesome because I can talk to Him about anything, at any time, wherever I am.
It sucks because I’m not with him. And the more I get to know him, the more I want to be.
And that’s the reality. I don’t get to be with him. At least not yet.
See one of my favourite passages in the Bible talks about this very subject,
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
Which I think means that it’s normal to feel about prayer the way I feel about Skype: it isn’t quite enough. It’s awesome, sure. But we’re made to have relationships with people where we are present with them, and the same is true for God.
OK, I’m getting tired, but I don’t want to delay posting by another day. So that’s all I have for now. I know it’s a bit rambling, but then sometimes I like to ramble. But do let me know your thoughts – on Skype, prayer, or anything else that comes to mind.