Bad things happen in forties. Forty days of rain during Noah’s flood. Forty days of fasting while Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. So, I’m not sure how I came up with ’40.’ It must have been the fasting because last week I thought, “Let’s have a forty day family fast from technology!”

“But we haven’t even voted on this!” my oldest son protested.

“It’s not up for a vote,” my husband said after changing the kid’s passwords so they couldn’t log onto the computer. “It’s something your mom and I have decided to do as a family.”

Our other children were perhaps a little too dazed to respond.

Now, obviously, I am posting this. So it is not a complete fast–but rather one from which we seek technology for entertainment. As it happens, there are exactly forty days left until the end of August. So, if you want to join us, the timing is perfect before kids head back to school in the fall. For us this means, no Facebook (as entertainment), no video games, no social email (Remember when people got in touch using the phone?), and no turning on a movie or T.V.

Instead, we are individually reading a chapter from the book of Romans (a great introduction to first century faith), and then sharing soap each evening. Soap? Not the kind that cleans the outside. The kind that cleans the inside!

In his easy-to-read, inspiring book “The Divine Mentor,” Hawaiian pastor Wayne Cordeiro talks about using S.O.A.P. each day. Here’s what it entails:

1. Scripture–Find a regular time to read one or two chapters of Scripture each day, then pick ONE verse and copy it in a journal.

2. Observe–Write down your observations. What is this verse saying?

3. Application–Personalize it. What is this verse specifically saying to you?

4. Prayer–Write down a prayer based on what this Scripture reveals.

As someone who has struggled to regularly read my Bible, I’ve found this to be a wonderful tool. One of my main goals as a parent is to help my children develop a habit of reading Scripture and praying. Not the God-as-my-servant kind of prayer, “God, please bless my family, finish my homework, feed the dog, clean my room…” but the me-as-God’s-servant kind of prayer, “Lord, help me to bless others, to please you, to pay attention to what you are telling me, to be more like you…”

In other words, I want to help my children build a personal relationship with God rather than treating Him like a divine butler. Building a relationship requires getting to know someone. The best way to know God is to read His Word. So, that’s our family’s focus for the next forty days: building stronger relationships with each other and a stronger relationship with God.

Today marks day three of our fast. Day one, instead of watching T.V., we took a walk on the beach. Day two, we went shopping, followed by an impromptu picnic and a jungle stroll in a bird sanctuary.

When we came home, no one even looked at the blank screen in the back room. Instead, my fifteen-year-old sat at the dining room table and willingly played a game of Blokus with his nine-year-old sister while the other kids cleaned off poison ivy. Then we gathered in the living room to read a chapter from Cordeiro’s book.

I’m hoping the relationships we build now will last longer than the itching from anything we picked up on our walk.

As Cordeiro says “The choices you make regarding the foundations of your life have eternal implications that go far beyond your life span on this earth. As (the Apostle) Paul told his young pastor-friend Timothy, ‘Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come’ (I Timothy 4:8).”

What choices are you making (or have you made) to build relationships in your family and with God?