Smartphones dominate daily life, used for everything from ordering takeout to mapping directions to snapping photos to, occasionally, talking on the phone. So why not use them for prayer?
A quick 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.
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.
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 apps attempt to integrate prayer into the routines of daily life.
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 range from 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 limited is aimed at those newly discovering the idea of daily prayer, so some may crave something deeper.
The Jesuit Ministries’ app 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 music that spans from litanies and chamber music to 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.