Smartphones have forever changed the way we live. With smartphones, we can communicate, produce, learn and do business like we never imagined possible.
As with all technology, benefits come many unintended consequences. Smartphones can cause a shorter attention span, people to live life through a screen, addiction, and constant distraction.
They can also hinder us spiritually by distracting us in prayer through the mental noise of constant texts, tweets, and notifications–not to mention being a time-suck that steals time from the important spiritual discipline of prayer. We don’t have to be slaves to our technology–we can use it productively to help us be better Christians and more effective in prayer.
I decided to write this post after realizing what I’ve lost due to the constant buzz of technology in my life. May these tips honor God and drive you to a deeper and more faithful prayer life.
10 Tips to Boost Your Prayer Life with Your Smartphone
1. Set alarms and calendar notifications to remind yourself to pray.
Most of us cannot enjoy a thriving prayer life without intentionally scheduling time to pray. Using alarms and calendars on your phone is one way to be more intentional.
I often remind myself of my need to depend on the Lord in prayer through my phone and schedule appointments with the Lord a few days in advance. For busy people with tight schedules, this is one way to ensure you keeping your relationship with the Lord your top priority.
2. Keep a list of prayer requests in a notepad or app (see app list below).
Add to your list immediately when others share prayer requests with you. This is helpful for at least two reasons: it keeps important prayer requests from falling through the cracks and makes prayer easier by giving you a focus.
3. Pray through your list during short gaps of time through the day.
Praying through your list will make saying “I’ll be praying for you” at church a true statement. You won’t have to pray those panicked, 3-second prayers (“Lord help so-and-so with this or that…uh… Amen”) when seeing someone just so you can tell them you’ve been praying for them. It will also be a better use of time than wasting time checking Twitter, Facebook, or launching fowl at random objects.
4. Open your Bible app and pray through the Scriptures.
Praying the Scriptures conforms your heart to God’s heart and prays according to His will. God gave us the Bible to train us in righteousness and shape us for ministry (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we pray God’s Word back to Him and ask Him to help us be doers of the Word, we pray prayers God wants to answer (1 John 5:14).
(If you don’t have a Bible App yet, check out the popular YouVersion App.)
5. Listen to music that warms your heart up for prayer.
Listening to worship music has a way of softening my heart and preparing it to pray–maybe it does for yours as well. When I can’t muster the desire to pray or can’t seem to quiet my heart, music often quiets my heart and focuses it on the Lord.
While music can be a useful tool to jump-start your prayers, don’t let it become a crutch–which can make your focus be on music rather than on God Himself.
6. Keep a journal of your prayers and answers to prayer.
In Evernote, OneNote, or whatever you use to organize your thoughts, keep track of your prayers and how God answers (yes, no, and maybe). This will strengthen your faith by remembering the goodness, faithfulness, and wisdom of God in your life (see Deuteronomy 8).
7. Sign up for Operation World’s daily prayer list by email (or access it online).
Operation World sends email subscribers a daily email with information about a country and suggestions on how to pray for that country. This is perfect if you want to go to battle for brothers and sisters around the world and help the advance of the gospel in difficult places. Join me!
8. Text or email people for their prayer requests.
Put your smartphone’s unlimited communication potential to use by reaching out to others and offering to pray for them. You will minister into their lives, encourage them, and honor God in the process.
9. Pray through books of prayers on the Kindle App or iBooks.
Reading through pre-made prayers can greatly aid your own prayers and prompt your heart to pray deeper and differently than you would normally. This is another way I use to jump start my prayers (but also something else we don’t want to make a crutch).
Some book recommendations are Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith and Ken Boa’s Handbook to Prayer: Praying Scripture Back to God and Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Spiritual Growth.
(I would also recommend my favorite book of prayers The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotionals, but, alas, it is not available yet as an eBook :(.)
And perhaps the most helpful tip…
10. Turn off your phone.
Duh. Why let yourself be distracted in prayer if you don’t need to? Because so much life and interaction is now done through technology, if we don’t turn off our phone (or at least put it in Airplane Mode) we might be disobeying Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:6:
“…when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.“
Don’t let your technology cause the most important thing in your life–your relationship with God–to suffer due to constant distraction. Tim Challies shares in The Next Story a progression of where being constantly distracted takes us: Distraction –> Shallow Thinking –> Shallow Living.
Applying this formula into our prayer conversation looks like:
Distraction in prayer –> Shallow praying –> A Shallow Faith (or life in Christ)
We cannot let our love for our smartphones hinder our Christian walks!
Shut off your phone, put it away, and get on your knees and pray–you’ll wish you had done it sooner.
The Best Prayer Apps for iPhone
Prayer Prompter (FREE) – A God-centered, worship-based prayer app that is designed to help organize and energize your prayer life. Prayer Prompter is like a two drawer file cabinet. The top drawer is named “Praying Scripture.” It stores and organizes Scripture passages by topic and displays as many of them as you want in rotation and according to the priority you assign to each one. The bottom drawer stores and organizes prayer requests and answers to prayer by category, and displays as many of them as you want in rotation and according to the priority you assign to each one. This app is endorsed by John MacArthur.
PrayerMate (FREE) – Organise your prayer life with this straightforward and distraction-free app. Every day, PrayerMate will select a person or topic that you’ve entered from each of your main categories (perhaps “My family” or “My small group at church”) and show them to you as a series of index cards – then just swipe between them to pray. Prayer is one of the greatest privileges for the person of faith, and yet most of us wish we were better at it. Now when you say to someone “I’ll pray for you!” you can make sure you follow it up.
Prayer Notebook ($1.99) – Have you ever told someone you would pray for them and forgot? Us too, that’s why we made Prayer Notebook. Use it to organize your prayer life and remind you to pray. Designed to be your personal prayer assistant, you can use Prayer Notebook to:
Focus on intentional prayer in full-screen mode, Group prayers into categories, Sync your prayers between your iPhone and iPad, Subscribe to prayer feeds to get new prayers daily, SMS or email contacts when you have prayed for them, Tweet or post to Facebook what you are praying for, schedule prayers daily, weekly, monthly or for a specific day, set an alert for prayers to remind you to pray, and more.
The Best Prayer Apps for Android
Instapray (Free) – Instapray is a mobile is application that connects people around the world through prayers. Request prayers, share your prayers, pray for someone, and get connected!
Become a part of the Instapray community and share your love, support, happiness, or struggles with the world around you.
Pray in small, private groups or with the whole world! Engage in meaningful conversations, follow users that you care for or join groups that are of interest to you.
Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Calendar (Free) – Christians around the world all share one request: “Please pray for us!” This app will update each day with a new prayer request for hostile and restricted nations around the world. Features include: high-definition graphics for the latest displays, 365 days of prayer requests, Daily prayer alert alarm, restricted and hostile nation information, persecution news and information.
Prayer Journal ($0.99) – A Prayer Journal. Keep a running list of topics that you are praying about, along with a series of entries (thoughts, specific prayers) related to each topic. Share entries or the entire Journal with friends, using Email or SMS text messaging. Set alarms (notifications) to remind you to pray for the topic (one-time, or repeating) with a different notification sound for each prayer request. Upload your Journal to Google Docs. When you feel you have reached an answer to your prayer topic(s), mark them as Answered and keep them available for later viewing, to remind yourself of God’s goodness to you in those requests.
(*Descriptions courtesy of corresponding store pages)
Join the Discussion
How do you optimize your prayer life with technology? Share in a comment!
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[image courtesy of William Hook on Flickr] Special thanks to a couple of friends and those on Twitter and Google+ who shared some of their ideas with me. I love you guys–and I’m praying for you!