What I meant to do was whip through Prayer in the Digital Age and include it on my summer reading list. And I guess I did read it pretty quickly, but not the way I thought I would.

I was expecting an informational “here’s what to do” treatise on using my iDevices for better prayer. I found an almost devotional and reflective approach to life that heralds St. Francis de Sales.

Maybe it just reminds me of de Sales because I’ve been working my way through Introduction to the Devout Life for the last few months. Just the other morning, I read this:

The evil lies not in doing the thing, but in caring for it. It is a pity to sow in our heart such vain and idle inclinations which occupy the place of better things, and hinder our soul from devoting all its energies to higher pursuits.

I’m pretty entangled in the web of instant communications, internet networking, and newfangled technology. All this stuff has helped me in my faith journey tremendously. If not for blogs, I wouldn’t know nearly as much about my faith and the practical application of living it. If not for apps, I wouldn’t be reading the Mass readings every morning.

But all this stuff very easily gets in the way, too. Swaim takes his own experience (do I dare call him a fellow addict?) and applies it humorously and humbly, guiding his reader toward a greater detachment.

Prayer in the Digital Age is brilliant for its brevity. It’s insightful because Swaim is one of the rest of us, striving for holiness but struggling every day.

He writes,

The challenges of combating this cultural tendency to usurp God’s plan for the world with our own plans as to how we think the world should operate are particularly strong in the digital age. Instant gratification is so much more appealing to us than the prospect of waiting for our prayers to be answered. We want God’s timing to match our own timing. The immediate and nagging demand, the demand which causes us the most discomfort, is the demand to which we assign the highest priority. We don’t think in terms of whom God is asking us to be in a particular circumstance; we end up in many cases thinking rather of who we are asking him to be, as though we think we are more connected with and informed of whatever situation we’re in than he is because we have smartphones and wireless Internet connections.

It’s an ongoing struggle we will all continue to face. With this book in hand, though, dog-eared and underlined, I have a reminder of my priority and some tips as to how to achieve it.

You won’t want to miss reading this book!