Help with praying

20 May 2016

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IN A video message to promote the “wave of prayer” for evangelism leading up to Pentecost, the Archbishop of Canterbury said of the Lord’s Prayer that it was “reassuring enough to be on the lips of the dying, and yet dangerous enough to be banned in cinemas; it is famous enough to be spoken each day by billions in thousands of languages, and yet it is intimate enough to draw us ever closer into friendship with Jesus Christ.”

The Lord’s Prayer is, indeed, the New Testament pattern prayer, but sometimes we want additional help in praying.

The Church of England’s Daily Prayer app, by Aimer Media, is a useful companion for those who want to follow the Daily Office. When you open the app, it takes you to the appropriate liturgy for the day, complete with the appointed readings from the lectionary. A selection of tabs at the top of the page enables you to move from the services for morning prayer, evening prayer, and night prayer.

If you are planning a service for a future date, and want to think about the readings, the app’s menu page enables you to open the services for specific dates about six months either side of the current date.

With the free version of the app, you need to be online to obtain readings for dates more than a month in advance; but a yearly subscription will provide offline access for £1.49 per year.

WHILE the formal liturgical prayers of the Daily Office will appeal to many, others prefer a different kind of help with their prayer life. The free Instapray app by Salem New Media is more interactive, and provides a means by which people can submit prayer requests, and also pray for the needs of others.

The basic format is similar to microblogging sites such as Twitter, but with a spiritual twist. You can watch the live stream of open prayer requests; and you can “follow” friends. You can also send messages to people, and notify them when you have prayed for them.

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After signing up for the app, you may wish to go to the “Notifications options” under settings, otherwise a simple prayer request will result in your tearing your hair out, owing to the constant interruptions telling you that Person A has prayed for you; Person B has commented on your prayer; Person C has had a prayer answered; and on it goes.

The app, however, is more than a mere stream of prayer requests. You can open prayer requests based on categories such as “Family”, “Natural disasters”, “School”, “Work”, and “Confession”; and you can establish groups.

This is a particularly useful feature that churches may wish to use. Using the app, a parish can take its prayer group beyond email into an interactive group, in which members’ prayer requests can be communicated instantly to other members of the group. If adopted by a significant proportion of the congregation, it could also be used for a simple push-notification system for urgent notices.

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