Grace Episcopal Church
There’s an App for That: Tools for Spiritual Growth
By Deacon Mary Delancey
We’re coming to the New Year and the time when many of us make resolutions for the coming year. Maybe one of yours is to grow your relationship with God by spending more time in His Word. This may be something you’ve tried in the past and it just didn’t happen the way you wanted it to. This might be the year to try something different. I have benefitted so much from listening to scripture read to me. I remember the first time I listened to an audio Bible. It was so different and richer than when I read it to myself silently. I was able to respond in a much deeper and more engaged way. Over the past few years I’ve found a number of apps and websites that have enriched my study and prayer life. Here are some I have used. Try them and see if they might be just what you need to restart or to enliven your journey.
Bible Reading Apps
YouVersion: This is the most downloaded Bible app in the world, downloaded to more than 500 million unique devices all over the world. You can read or have scripture read to you. There are Bible reading plans and devotionals as well as other features like daily guided prayer and the ability to share scripture passages easily on social media. There is also a kids’ version. It is available through the app store or on-line at bible.com. (Free)
Daily Audio Bible: This is the first Bible app I ever used. The host reads the Bible over the length of a year, each episode being about 30 minutes. There is an option for the reading to be chronological. The kids’ version has shorter readings and is read by a kid! A community of listeners has developed that bears each other’s burdens and prays for one another. It is available through the app store or on-line at dailyaudiobible.com. (Free)
Bible in One Year: This also has a daily Bible reading plan which takes you through the whole Bible in 365 days along with a daily commentary from Nicky and Pippa Gumbel, pioneers of Alpha. You can follow along by reading the text or listening to the audio commentary and you can choose from different the versions: Classic version (25 minutes), or a shorter Express or Youth version (both around 15 minutes). The app includes audio devotions, progress tracking, and more. It is available through the app store. (Free)
Bible.is: From “Faith Comes by Hearing,” this is a site I recently discovered and I’ve found it very interesting. Their mission is to make the Bible accessible to all people in their native language, regardless of ability to read. (This includes recording in non-written languages.) In addition to the audio readings, there are films that use the actual Gospel texts as their scripts—word-for-word. Bible.is is available through the app store or on-line at faithcomesbyhearing. (Free)
Bible Gateway: This is my primary go-to site for on-line studying. The search feature allows you to search for a key word, topic or a passage, in many versions and languages and access free commentaries. There are even Bible dictionaries and an encyclopedia. They have a library of audio Bibles, a mobile app, devotionals, email newsletters, and other free resources, designed to equip people to understand what they read, including a university-based scripture engagement program which can help people engage more deeply with scripture. (Free at biblegateway.com)
For those who want additional resources, you can subscribe to Bible Gateway Plus for $3.99 monthly or $39.99 USD yearly. With the subscription you get a Bible study library, unlimited access to more than 50 study and resource books, access to an interlinear Bible and an exhaustive concordance. The cost is tiny compared to what all the available resources were purchased in hard copy – and it is all in one place.