Prayer: There’s an app for that
These days if you have smartphone you use it for so much more than making phone calls.
An important way that your smartphone can actually assist you in your spiritual growth is through a dizzying array devotional tools available in the app store. Think about the time you spend on your phone each day checking your socials and how you could move some of that time into a devotional space.
We have collected a list of some apps we believe could even enhance your prayer life. A brief search of the App Store reveals dozens, if not hundreds, of apps designed to facilitate prayer, available for Apple and Android devices; most are free, but here are some of our favourites.
The d365 daily devotional site is produced by Passport, Inc. Passport is a student ministry organization focused on creating meaningful experiences and resources for students. From youth and children’s camps, to international awareness and youth leader resources, Passport, Inc. gives students a chance to see and experience their world in new ways.
The devotional experience is written especially for students and seeks to provide reflections on themes that impact our faith journey.
The user journey is based on the following steps:
- Pause: Slow down, breathe deep, and connect to your power source. Take a moment, connecting with God, and know this: Faith carries you through. Faith calls you to action. Faith is enough.
- Listen: “All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:15
- Think: The greatest lessons to learn in life seem to be those that take the most work and ask for the most pain. A good coach knows that to make someone better, you have to push them to keep reaching for what’s next, whether that’s in sports, academics, or life in general. It feels preachy to say these moments of pain are “for your benefit,” but it can be true. When Paul says “all these things are for your benefit,” he’s referring to the moments when life makes it hard to have faith (verses 8-12). Paul knows the best way for us to truly recognize grace in our lives is for our faith to be pushed, and, like a good coach, Paul knows that sometimes we’ll have to run, sweat, and maybe even bleed for it. Our faith keeps us going.
- Pray: Lord, I often wish faith was easy, even though I know it’s not. Help me to continue to get back up when I’ve been knocked down. Help me to grow and to trust. Amen.
- Go: Faith is both amazing and frustrating. Faith is what invites questions and what keeps us going. What step can you take today? “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
The most interactive of the bunch is PrayerMate, created by a U.K.-based Christian software developer. It has a slick design and is simple to use, with an interface based on swiping through “cards” with different prayer requests.
Within the app, users can create prayer requests and organize them into categories, or can subscribe to “prayer feeds” from Christian organizations. There are also links to prayers in the Bible, a feature that syncs to your phone’s address book so you can write to contacts as you pray for them, an alarm to prompt prayer time, a PIN-protected password feature to keep sensitive prayer requests secret and scheduling options to make individual prayer requests appear on a certain date or day of the week. With such a wide range of options, the app should appeal to many, though it might be overwhelming for those seeking a quick prayerful moment.
3 Minute Retreat
On the more contemplative side, 3-Minute Retreat is an app, also available in a browser version, created by Jesuit ministry Loyola Press. With a new “retreat” every day, the app takes the user through a short selection of Bible readings and prayers centred on a theme. The purpose, according to the Loyola Press website, is to “take a short prayer break right at your computer” and “spend some quiet time reflecting on a Scripture passage.”
The simple interface requires one to press a “continue” button after each section, meaning the user can move through the app at his or her own pace. Soft classical guitar music plays in the background, though this can be turned off. Rather than taking a pause, some appsattempt to integrate prayer into the routines of daily life.
Prayers on the Move
Prayers on the Move is an initiative of the U.K.-based Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), an independent Christian publisher. According to its website, the app is part of SPCK’s “outreach to open-minded people, of all faiths and none, who are seeking to connect with the spiritual in their own lives.”
The app has 31 prayers—one for each day of the month—that can be read or listened to as an audio file. Its design is pared down, presenting simply a prayer for each day. (You can move through the days by swiping left and right.) There are some interactive elements, namely the ability to add personal notes to favourite prayers and social media sharing.
Prayers are drawn from a wide range of sources, and include quotations from mystics and theologians to Bible verses to short unattributed prayers (“Help me to get over myself and be a good friend”).
This app is ideal for introducing a little mindfulness into the busy moments of the day, with exceptionally short and quick prayers. The app is aimed at those newly discovering the idea of daily prayer, so some may crave something deeper.
Pray As You Go
The Jesuit Ministries’ Pray As You Go is more involved, with a daily audio prayer session designed to be listened to while commuting, travelling or getting ready in the morning. These sessions run 10 to 13 minutes and include litanies, chamber music and songs by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, alongside Scripture and questions for reflection.
For the traditionalist, the Church of England’s Daily Prayer is an ideal option. The app is simple and easy to navigate. Morning, evening and night services are provided for each day, including prayers, hymns, psalmody, Scripture readings and canticles.
The app offers services both in the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and contemporary language from Common Worship: Daily Prayer (2005). The Scripture readings in the app follow the annual lectionary booklet, providing two tracks of readings, each with an Old and New Testament selection.
Whatever the flavour of your prayer life, it’s easy to have a pocket full of prayers at your disposal.
This article was first published in Insights Magazine.