‘Ringing’ in the New Year… on a smartphone

PC(USA) Daily Prayer app provides contemporary pathway to ancient practices

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – What if a smartphone could breathe new life into time-honored spiritual disciplines and age-old practices, such as making New Year’s resolutions?

According to recent statistics compiled by the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Theology, Formation, and Evangelism ministry area, not only can it revitalize such practices, but for over 10,000 users of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Daily Prayer app, it already has.

Since the PC(USA) launched its first smartphone application four years ago, it has dramatically altered the contemporary landscape of doing daily devotions.

“The PC(USA) Daily Prayer app offers a new way to do a very old thing—joining the church’s ancient pattern of Scripture reading and prayer with the rhythm of our daily lives,” says the Rev. Dr. David Gambrell, associate for worship in the office of Theology and Worship. “People appreciate the simplicity and convenience of the app. It takes selected texts from two big books—readings from the Bible and prayers from the Book of Common Worship—and puts them in the palm of your hand, preassembled according to the day of the week or hour of the day.”

The app has also found a devoted following among many of the nearly 900 participants and alumni/ae in the Company of New Pastors program, a transition-into-ministry program focused on forming pastors for the PC(USA) in part by helping to establish and nurture habits of theological reflection and spiritual formation starting in seminary and continuing into the first years of ministry.

“Offering new pastors the ability to engage in daily prayer individually or in groups, without the need to carry books or other items, has freed up many of our groups to engage in the spiritual practices of prayer and scripture reading in different ways and places,” says the Rev. Karen Russell, who provides oversight for the Company of New Pastors. “It can add a different dimension to our groups when prayer and reflection is only dependent on having a phone or tablet handy. We carry our phones everywhere. The Daily Prayer app means that we also carry everywhere the ability to worship, read today’s lectionary scriptures, and reflect on the confessions. It can make the daily disciplines seem less like an ‘ought to’ task and more like a ‘get to’ opportunity.”

Gambrell adds that the beginning of Advent and the start of the calendar year are times when people often explore new spiritual disciplines such as daily prayer or Bible reading, for which the app was specifically designed. He also commends the app’s customization options.

“People also appreciate the flexibility of the app,” says Gambrell. “An advanced features menu—under settings—allows users to customize their experience of daily prayer by selecting which readings and prayers will appear.”

Regardless of the calendar or liturgical season, as users across the PC(USA)—and beyond—continue to discover and experience old patterns of daily prayer and Scripture reading through an immediately-available and technologically-complex delivery system, the PC(USA) rejoices that Christians everywhere are deepening their relationship with God.

“We are so pleased,” says the Rev. Dr. Charles Wiley III, coordinator of the office of Theology and Worship, “that the treasures of the patterns of prayer for Christians through the centuries are so easily available in a way that works for so many people.”

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The app is available at a cost of $2.99 for both iPhone and Android devices.


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