Note: this article was first published in 2020, but the apps listed below are still relevant and available. New ones are added annually.
With the unfolding news of the Corona virus COVID-19, some of us are staying at home for our protection or for the protection of others. We might not be able to gather in groups during the week for regular prayer. The Archbishop has sent out a treasury of beautiful collects for prayer at this time. Another thing that might accompany us in our prayer lives is an app on our smartphone or tablet. But there are so many prayer apps on Google or Apple, it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s a list of ones to consider. They are all free. I’ve tried them all out. They lean towards those which are either based in the pattern of the daily office, Ignatian spirituality, or contemplative prayer. Many of them have audio, music, and even singing. These can help us know we pray with the whole body of Christ even when we may be separated in space.
DAILY OFFICE APPS
These apps feature the daily common prayers of the church in an accessible format. You can choose from Morning Prayer, Midday, Evening Prayer or Compline. These could be said together over the phone in groups of two or three too. Unfortunately, there is no app based on the Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada. The ones you will see here are mainly from the Episcopal Church of the USA or Church of England. If you want to go down the rabbit hole of daily office apps – and there is one! – you can check out this annotated list.
- DailyPrayer – one of the best apps for praying the daily office. It has a clean attractive format and each day gives you the psalm and lectionary readings so you’re not flipping around with multiple books and/or screens. You can pray the full set of offices from morning, midday evening, and night/compline and you can choose the traditional BCP or the contemporary prayer book of the Church of England called Common Worship. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- The Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare – based on the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, this app includes psalms and lection readings as well as text and recordings of chants and hymns used throughout morning, noonday, evening, and night prayer. It’s very easy to use. Bonus if you like the 16th century Coverdale translation of the psalms, you can click and pray them instead. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- Order of Saint Helena Daily Office - the daily office of the Anglican monastic Order of Saint Helena. The app is plain but simple to use and the sisters have worked diligently over the years to incorporate more gender inclusive and expansive language while hewing to the tradition and flow of the Book of Common Prayer. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals – based on the popular adaptations of morning, midday, and evening prayer developed by Shane Claiborne and his team in the book of the same name. It’s a pretty straightforward text based app. One nice feature is the songbook that has folksy, accapella recordings of all the hymns used in the daily prayers. Download on Android.
IGNATIAN PRAYER APPS
- Pray as you Go – a popular 10-13 minute guided prayer session that gives scripture, questions for reflection, music, and prayer. It’s all audio with soothing voices and based in Ignatian spirituality, which invites us to use our senses and imagination in prayer and relationship with God. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- Reimagining the Examen – based on the book Reimagining the Ignatian Examen by Jesuit priest, Mark Thibodeaux, the app guides you step-by-step through a prayerful review of the day called an examen. You can choose among many different types of examen prayers and choose background music and text size. It helps by inviting us to attend to our bodies and posture as well. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- Centering Prayer – an easy-to-use introduction and timer for contemplative prayer. You can set opening and closing prayers, many from Fr. Thomas Keating, founder of Centering Prayer, or from the tradition of the church. You can set the amount of time you wish to sit in silence and have a bell rung to open and close the time. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- D365.org – based on the daily print devotional for youth, this simple app offers a brief prayer, a scripture passage, a short reflection, a closing prayer and sending. Users have the option to play music in the background with each day’s devotion. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- 3 Minute Retreat - a time of calm with a brief passage from scripture, reflection, a question, and a closing blessing. The text is accompanied by image and meditative music. Produced by Loyola press, a Jesuit publisher. The Jesuits are really into the app realm it seems. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
- Second Breath App - choose from a number of guided spiritual practices and learn about different topics such as stress, forgiveness, and spirituality. Created by Episcopal clergy and lay leaders. Download on Apple. Download on Android.
Do you have any apps that help you in your prayer life? I would love to hear about them. Feel free to email me: Jessica Schaap, Missioner for Christian formation, firstname.lastname@example.org