Courtesy of Internetmonk, I found the oddest smartphone app I have ever seen advertised:
The Shut Up, Devil! app is an innovative resource that puts the power of the Word of God in your pocket. And because it’s on your smartphone, which is almost always with you, you’re ready to resist the devil whenever and wherever he attacks. Additionally the app features reminders that will help you keep the enemy at bay and silenced in your life.
Behind the app is the concept that whenever Satan was around, Jesus quoted Scripture. Therefore, the way to keep Satan at bay is obvious. Speak Scripture frequently and Satan will be kept at bay. If you go to the website, the app can have alarms set so that it can remind you to read a Scripture, and will have one waiting for you. It also has a bookmark feature that allows you to memorize Scriptures that you have found especially helpful. The key is that each time the app helps you to find a Scripture, you are supposed to speak it out loud. And, it even converts many Scriptures to helpful affirmations that you can speak out loud.
There is a part of me that is friendly toward the idea of reading Scripture, memorizing Scripture, and speaking Scripture out loud. After all, we Orthodox talk about praying the Jesus Prayer under our breath as a way of praying constantly and keeping our mind focused on Christ. But, most of me has some serious questions, about the practice. If you notice, the focus of the app is simply drive Satan away. But, if the person has given entry to Satan in other ways, I am not sure that the app would be of much help. In fact, Jesus did not use Scripture to drive Satan away, but to confront Satan with truth. Indirectly, it did encourage Satan to leave, but I am not sure that it caused him to leave. For instance, in Acts 19:11-17, there is an interesting story of seven Jewish exorcists. They used the name of Jesus against a demon, and the demon was untouched:
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
It was not enough to use the name of Jesus, it was also necessary to be part of the Church. In the same way, you can quote Scripture out loud all you want, but if other parts of your life are not in order, it will be hard to drive Satan away simply by quoting Scripture. You might find yourself in the position of the seven sons of Sceva. If quoting scripture is all of your spiritual effort, it will not have much effect. When we read about the Jesus Prayer, the same is said. It is one part of an ascetic program. We even say that its regular practice should be under the direction of a spiritual father or confessor. When it is done by people in the Church, it should be but one part of your spiritual life, to include prayer, fasting, almsgiving, etc.
In the end, I suppose that is what bothered me about the app. In the presentation video, I saw and heard no hint that this is part of a program of spiritual practices. Rather, it seemed like the same old easy fix that Americans are so fond of. Read Scripture out loud, based on a timer that you can set to go off every so often, and you will be able to beat Satan. Yep, easy to do, no self-sacrifice necessary, no putting down your flesh. Just read Scripture out loud. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.