I thought it might be nice to offer a broad survey and review of some of the apps I use / have used that have helped (or…not helped) with my Christian walk, especially since many of us are in the position of depending on apps and other technologies currently. If you have any that you use, feel free to add them in the comments!
As far as I am concerned, this is the Bible app. There are tons of translations in multiple languages and some even have audio versions. Verses are easy to look up and easy to read. I can highlight and bookmark as necessary. With the caveat that I prefer a physical Bible, I have to say that when I need a “phone Bible,” this always does the trick.
The app also comes with a suite of plans you can search by topic or need. These plans are basically daily devotionals. I’ve found the quality varies: they are all devotional in structure, but I’ve happened across some good, thoughtful, really wonderful plans and also some pretty fluffy lightweight ones. Luck of the draw…or the search.
YouVersion has also recently introduced a prayer component which permits users to journal prayers and seemingly connect with others to pray and/or pray with others. You can also use the app to share your daily Bible study with others. This fits with the app, which offers you the ability to find friends and other users and share your material with them. However, I can’t speak to this aspect or how useful it might be as I avoid it entirely. I don’t want my Scripture and prayer time to start looking like social media and I also have privacy concerns – but if that doesn’t bother you, then maybe this will appeal to you.
The Bible Memory App
I really wanted to like this one. It is essentially an app that gamifies the memorization of Bible verses in much the same way Duolingo gamifies language-learning. I got it because I wanted a fun and helpful way to memorize Bible verses. I got rid of it within a week, not because the app wasn’t well-functioning or useful – it was – but because I was unable to cope with the mechanics.
Part of the way the app requires you to “memorize” verses is to essentially go through a process of tapping the first letter of each word in a verse you choose to memorize. Even on verses I memorized I found this process counter-intuitive and difficult, to the point that I ended up frustrated with the app because it was telling me I hadn’t “memorized” verses I could recite, chapter and verse, by rote. This is another case of just-not-for-me, but it may work for you! It’s free, so might not hurt to give it a shot.
This is a Christian meditation app meant to help people focus on Scripture and drift off to sleep and/or relaxation. I thought I would love it, but I have to admit that it wasn’t really for me. Although I very much think it could work for some people, it is very much meant to help you relax and – at least for me – seemed like something I would only turn to in times of profound anxiety. Additionally, I was turned off by the constant stream of emails I received from Abide meant to “help” me.
With that being said, if you have trouble sleeping and/or want an app to help you power down and do some low-level reflecting, this may work for you.
The Daily Office
I got this app because I wanted to find motivation to pray more throughout the day. This app is pretty cool, actually, and I still use it frequently: the free version provides morning and evening prayers, and the premium version offers a broader collection. Every morning and evening, you can receive reminders for (and have access to) verses, daily Scripture readings, a daily confession of sin, intercession, the Lord’s prayer, and the Creed, as well as a benediction. The app offers a lot of customization especially for premium users, and you can basically choose what appears to you each day and when and in what style.
The benefits of this app are that it has: a) added a hefty dose of multi-chapter Scripture reading to my days, b) focused me to remember God in the morning and evening of each day, and c) helped me to transition into work and away from work in a Christlike way. My issue with this app is primarily user failure rather than anything related to the app itself: because everything is written down, I have a tendency to scroll through it quickly without anything but the Scripture reading making much of a dent. Because of that, it can sometimes feel rote or emptier than I would like it to be. And yes, that is a me problem.
A note: this app is based on the Anglican daily office, so if you don’t like the idea of seeing certain sets of the same prayers each day, or if the idea of “reading a prayer” that isn’t spontaneous turns you off, this may not be for you. I’m a Protestant, but I am able to enjoy the prayers that the app offers and also add my own spontaneous ones, so for me it makes a nice mix, but your mileage may vary.
Pray As You Go
This is the most recent app of mine, and it is a treasure. I had apparently downloaded it a while back, not liked it or used it, deleted it for an indefinite period of time for reasons I do not recall, and now that I’ve rediscovered it I can’t imagine not using it.
The app offers a reflective prayer opportunity each day. There is a short musical selection (which you can skip past if it’s not your bag), and then an invitational welcome, a reading of a Scripture passage, and several questions and invitations to reflection and prayer based on that passage. This app does not offer prescribed prayers, but rather a framework: so, for example, if you are reading John 15, the app might ask you to reflect on what is fruitful in your life; where God might bless with greater fruit, and where He might prune, and so on, and so forth.
The daily reflections can be read in silence (just tap the screen) but I actually find listening to them to be exactly what I need. Most so far have run 13-15 minutes, so they are short enough to fit the day, and listening forces me to pause. The attitude and tone of the speakers on the app is thoughtful and meditative, so I actually feel forced to slow down. And because the prayers invite deep reflection on the verses, I find that they resurface for me then throughout the day.
This app gives me the regularity and consistency I need, the time to meditate on and deeply connect with God, but also an opportunity to work spontaneously within the broader framework. Additionally – and for free! – this app is chock full of offerings. It offers a rotating song selection and a series of prayer tools, including a “Walking With God” series to listen to as you are outdoors, “Pray As You Stay” for those trapped at home due to the pandemic, and offerings for Lent, mental health awareness, and a slew of other topics.
As someone who really, really loves a good podcast or something that makes me think and sets up time for God, I find this app to be just right on every level. It’s short enough to fit in the day, meaty enough to give me reflection, thought, and intimacy with God that carries throughout the day, and an astonishing amount of variety.
The app is created and maintained by the Jesuits in Britain (you will find that the voices on the app are British!) – I ended up finding it through the Where I Found God Today, where I have submitted writing on occasion. As a result and as with the Daily Office app, this means that you will run into things like the Examen and/or other mentions of dates/times/holy days celebrated by the liturgical church. This does not bother me one whit; if you don’t think you would like it, then this may not be the app for you.
This isn’t an app. But it’s something I do on my phone that I’d like to share with you. I use the Reminders function frequently on my phone to set up both reminders to pray (for myself, in general, or for other people), and verses to read. At 6 am every day my phone reminds me that “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8). On some days this feels exactly right; on some days seeing it reminds me that I am feeling far from God; and on some days it brings a little of the supernatural intimacy of my relationship with God down into my very mundane world.
If you haven’t used these apps, it might be worth a shot – all of them have free versions, as far as I am aware, although some (like the Daily Office) require a premium subscription to unlock all the features. In the meantime, if you have any apps or any technology hacks that I haven’t listed here, please feel free to share!