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September 16, 2011
If you keep up with this blog, you know that I’ve been trying to learn how other people—pastors in particular—organize their prayer life. The fact is that I am a forgetful person and, at heart, a selfish one. Yet I want to pray for the things that I ought to pray for—the things that are important to the people I serve at my church. And I want to pray for other requests that come along, the kind of requests I mean to pray for, but tend to forget about. If I do not organize my prayer life, I naturally gravitate to only those things that are most urgent to me.
What I am finding is that most people, at least most pastors, eventually develop some kind of a system that ensures they pray for all the things they want and need to pray for. I am eager to learn from them.
But then something interesting happened. A reader of this site happens to have developed an app for iPhones or iPods that is meant to organize a person’s prayer life. He calls it PrayerMate. Now listen, I am as wary as anyone about using an app for prayer. But he sent me a copy of the app and asked if I’d like to check it out. Rather on a whim I decided to give it a try for a 1-week period. So for 7 days I relied on the app to guide me. And I have to say that I was quite impressed. It ended up being a very useful aid. I was genuinely surprised by this.
Now, I think the usefulness of the app will vary a lot with how and when you pray. I tend to do my praying early in the morning, before phone calls and text messages start to come in. If I were to use this app in the middle of the day I know I would be interrupted too often. But in the way I used it, it was remarkably helpful.
Here is what Andy Geers, who developed the app, says about it:
Every day, PrayerMate will select a person or topic that you’ve entered from each of your main categories (perhaps “My family” or “My small group at church”) and show them to you as a series of index cards - then just swipe between them to pray.
- Intuitive index card interface lets you swipe between the day’s topics
- Set up your own personal categories and subjects to suit the way you pray
- Subjects can be entered manually or directly from your address book contacts - no typing necessary!
- Optional daily alarm clock to remind you to pray (iOS 4.0 upwards)
What the app does well is allow you to organize your prayer requests into categories and add a series of prayer items into each of those categories. Then every day it will take some of those items (you can specify how many from each category) and add them to a series of virtual index cards. You simply swipe your way through those cards, praying for each item along the way.
I am rather surprised to find myself enjoying the app, and still using it 2 weeks later. I doubt I will end up continuing to use it in the long term, though perhaps I will be surprised. I remain kind of suspicious of it and suspicious of the very idea of using an app to help me pray. I haven’t thought through all of the potential implications, but at least on a pragmatic level, it delivers what it promises.
Now let me ask you, What do you think of using an app to pray? Does it offend you? Or can you see the benefit?