Grace Episcopal Church
There’s an App for That: Tools for Spiritual Growth - Part 2
By Deacon Mary Delancey
In the previous article I shared some apps and websites that can be useful if you need a little help, or maybe a change, to enhance your experience of the essential spiritual discipline of Bible reading. Prayer and meditation are also important ways to strengthen our relationship with God, and there are apps and websites to help along the way in developing a more robust prayer life.
Christian Meditation and Prayer
Abide: When I wanted to start meditating again, after years being away from the practice, I wanted an app that could guide me. I found some good ones but they all lacked something. What they lacked was a connection to God in the meditations. Abide offers a daily meditation on scripture and you can customize the length of the audio from 2 to 15 minutes. They also offer topical meditations including sleep meditations, and meditations specifically for men and women.
Because it is often perceived as being an Eastern practice, many Christians are uncomfortable with meditation. The difference between Eastern Meditation and Christian Meditation is the goal behind each practice. In Eastern Meditation, the goal is to empty one's mind with the intention to connect with essential nature. Christian mediation has the goal of filling one's mind with Scripture with the intention to connect with God. Biblical meditation has been practiced by the saints throughout history. References to meditation is found in the Old Testament (Joshua) and Psalms (1, 38, 63, 77, 119, 143 and 145). Christians ranging from Teresa of Avila to Martin Luther to Charles Spurgeon to Tim Keller have written about Christian Meditation. If you want to know more this practice: Biblical meditation from Our Daily Bread Ministries; Biblical meditation from C. S. Lewis Institute
Lectio 365: This app is new to me but Erin van Santen, our children’s Ministry Coordinator, uses and recommends it. Lectio 365, from “24-7 Prayer,” an international, interdenominational movement to “revive the church and rewire the culture through non-stop night and day prayer” has daily devotional Morning Prayers inspired by Lectio Divina. In Lectio Divina, a very old Christian practice, Bible readings connect our thoughts and heart to God in a personal way. Night Prayers draw inspiration from another ancient Christian practice, the Examen, which uses prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern His direction for us. Lectio for Families helps families read the Bible and explore faith through conversation and Prayer. The “24-7 Prayer” website offers courses, book recommendations, links to the Lectio apps and a prayer app. The apps are available through the app store or on-line at 24-7prayer.com. (Free)
Forward Movement: This ministry of the Episcopal Church has produced pamphlets, booklets, and books since 1935. You can pick up a copy of their daily devotional “Forward Day by Day” at the back of the church. They now have a website and an app that not only offers the daily meditation with the ability to comment and discuss the daily meditation with others online, but several other features. You can pray the four Episcopal Daily Offices of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline using the order set out in The Book of Common Prayer and get the lectionary readings for the day. Forward Movement also publishes podcasts and you can find them listed on the website forwardmovement.org. The app is free at the app store.
Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare: This app offers Daily Offices with the musical selections during Morning and Evening Prayer you can play to enhance worship and prayer. Their website lists several other resources but I found that some of the links are broken. It’s still worth a visit, and while you’re there check out the About page. The app is available through the app store or on-line at missionstclare.com. (Free)
Alexa: Bet you didn’t know that you can say, “Alexa, open Episcopal Prayer” and you’ll get a reading of the current Daily Office following The Book of Common Prayer. You can also get Morning and Evening Devotions, and one version of the Anglican Rosary the same way.
There are many other websites and apps that can be resources for spiritual growth. Be discerning, and approach your choices with prayer. If you cannot tell what the authors believe from their mission statement, how they describe themselves, or a Statement of Faith on the website, be cautious. Ask Fr. Jonathan or Fr. Frans if you have any concerns about what you are reading or hearing. Jesus has told us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)