This last week in our Writing Your Personal Rule of Life course, we were paying attention to prayer as the first element of our rules. Over the last couple years, I have increasingly turned to my phone when it’s time to start praying. In fact, while we might usually think of our phones as distractions, they can also be life-giving resources. Whether for praying morning and evening prayer, reading scripture, or learning to meditate, we really do have more resources at our fingertips than ever before. Last night in class, students and I shared our favorite apps for spiritual and personal growth. Here is a curated, top-ten list of our favorite apps.
This is the first app I open every morning. Every day you can read through the daily lectionary texts from the Consultation on Common Texts, based on the Revised Common Lectionary. From Monday through Wednesday, the daily lectionary features readings that reflect back on the readings from the previous Sunday. Then the daily readings from Thursday through Saturday anticipate the themes that are upcoming on the next Sunday. This is a wonderful app for immersing yourself in scripture (Old Testament, Psalms, Gospels, and Epistles) every single day.
And this is the second app I open every morning. Created in Duke’s Economical Behavior Lab, The Fabulous app uses science-based techniques for crafting new, healthy habits that can transform your life through bite-sized, do-able tasks. Using a method very similar to habit stacking, The Fabulous takes you on various “journeys” that will help you cultivate habits for being more active, sleeping better, finding focus, staying hydrated, and so on. But as they say on their website, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and sleeping better are goals, not behaviors, and “behavioral change is not about the final goal. It’s about dividing the big changes you seek into smaller behaviors and getting you to accomplish them one at a time.” A free, brief trial period ends with a subscription fee.
Lately, this has been the third app I open every morning. Mission St. Clare is a free, ecumenical app that provides text and music for morning and evening prayer every day in both English and Spanish following the Book of Common Prayer. The app interface has a very pleasing, parchment-like look to it. Their website also offers links to additional offices, lectionaries, and devotions.
A ministry of the Jesuits of Britain, these daily guided prayers always feature meditative music, scripture, reflective questions, and silence. You can literally pray on the go with these brief recordings, but I tend to stay put and use them at home. 🙂
This is the only meditation app that has kept me faithfully meditating nearly every day. I find Andy Puddicombe’s explanations and instructions to be incredibly helpful and accessible. After a brief free trial, there is a monthly subscription cost that I have personally been more than happy to pay. Their packs on topics such as balance, productivity, and creativity are fantastic. And their single meditations are great, too, for emotional meltdown moments, focus, or going on meditative walks. And their new Sleepcasts knock me out at night in record time.
Although I was never able to be quite as consistent in my meditation practice with this app, it still has been a great one for me over time. A free app with a massive library of guided meditations, Insight Timer also helps you feel like you are meditating in community even when you’re alone. I also love the sound of the singing bowls, and have used them to let students know when small group discussion times are over. Hmmm, haven’t done that in a while. Maybe I need to get back to that! Insight Timer does now have a premium version as well.
“Take a breath,” is the first phrase you’ll see when you open the Calm app. An app that guides you through meditation and mindfulness exercises and includes sleep stories and mindful movement. There is a brief free trial and then a paid subscription.
This free app from the folks at Contemplative Outreach provides an introduction to centering prayer, timer, and inviting images and sounds to help draw one into this quiet and gently focused method for praying. Contemplative Outreach is a ministry that was founded by Fathers Thomas Keating, William Meninger, and Basil Pennington.
A Christian meditation app with a strong biblical focus. Also includes bedtime stories based on the Bible (hopefully not too many from the Book of Judges!). They also offer guides around different themes such as recovery, depression, talking with hurting friends, and many others. Abide also offers a unique opportunity for churches to partner with them in offering the app for congregations to use together.
This app focuses on micro-actions that you can do every day that help to improve your life and happiness. Based on scientific research, this app suggests one new micro-action every day. Also with a social media feel to it (except it’s troll-free and always positive), You-App is one of the most life-affirming apps I’ve encountered.