Review of Prayers On The Move

potmPrayers On The Move is an app which was launched last week by SPCK. It is designed to help people pray for one minute a day.

My prayer life has greatly benefited from prayer apps! I use the Church of England’s Daily Prayer app and as a family we also use Prayer On The Go. That probably makes me sound a lot more prayerful than I actually am, but really I’m mentioning them because I think that they are a very useful way of enabling people to pray more.

Prayers On The Move (POTM) is an entry-level app, so I’m not really the target audience, but I hope that this review is helpful anyway. POTM is designed to develop the daily habit of a minute’s prayer, through the use of 31 simple prayers. Most of them don’t explicitly mention God, although a few towards the end of the month do begin with ‘Lord’. They are taken from Christian writers down the centuries and one from Psalm 90, with, for example, a prayer from St Columba, a traditional prayer from West Africa, and prayers from 20th century and contemporary writers. They have been chosen or rewritten to largely avoid jargon and churchy language (no ‘amens’ here!). I found some of them very helpful and some less so, which is no surprise! Some prayers are always going to speak into your present feelings better than others. The downside of this approach is that everything rides on the one prayer speaking to people each day, or at least not being so far out of their current experience that they will want to return the next day.

The prayers are also presented as easily-shareable memes for social media. This works well, and got likes and shares when I tried it.

Another good feature of the daily prayers is the audio, which again is simple and straightforward, following the same pattern. One of three voices introduces the minute, reads the prayer, encourages a pause, reads the prayer again, and the minute ends with a gong. I tried this out with the family and again this was received well (although the voices have a tendency to read a little quickly – slower would have been better).

Unfortunately, version 1.0 is (inevitably) a little buggy. On my tablet (Android 4.4), but not my phone (Android 5.1), attempts to ‘love’ a particular prayer resulted in the app crashing (now fixed), while swiping down the page led to the prayer vanishing, and the app had to be restarted before it reappeared. Getting back to the introduction and further information from the daily prayer requires using the back button rather than having a home button (one of my personal minor irritations with apps!). Despite these problems the core features work well and are attractively presented, and these are all things that an update should be able to resolve.

POTM is designed as an entry-level prayer app. It is designed to inculcate the habit of prayer in people. I think that’s great and I think that there is a good chance that this app will help people do just that. My biggest question with the current approach is: then what? In the ‘resources’ section, a good selection of other apps and books are suggested, but my concern for these are that many of those are quite a big leap – from a one-minute easily-accessible prayer, to something much longer and more explicitly Christian. It also means that this app has a fairly short shelf-life – 31 prayers and then what?

Instead, I’d like to see this approach developed and taken on: what about another month of 1 minute prayers? A couple of months each of 2 and 5 minute ones? Some sort of sense of progression, and more obvious signposting and support to move onto the next thing, if that is what is being envisaged. SPCK obviously thinks that there is a big enough target audience out there to make this a worthwhile thing to develop. If that’s the case, then don’t just leave people when you’ve got them wanting more – give it to them!

In short, SPCK should be congratulated for creating a good quality, attractive app which may very well encourage people to pray. It will be one that I recommend to people, but SPCK now needs to keep up the good work, and extend this into a fuller, richer app which will last longer and enable people to develop and explore a daily prayer life.

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