By Mark Isaiah David
The Lenten season is upon us, and this is the perfect opportunity to take time and reflect on our faith. For most of our days, we work hard and we work fast. For the coming holy days, we are given a rare opportunity to slow down and concentrate on the things that transcendentally matter.
And while it is traditionally viewed that reflection and meditation requires going off the grid and relinquishing our gadgets for a time, it is good to remember that technology isn’t inherently disruptive – like any tool, it can be used for good or ill. When used properly, technology can also be used to help us strengthen our faith.
Here are a few apps that you can use in your faith journey, especially this Lent:
YouVersion Holy Bible
“In the Beginning was The Word”… and so it is fitting that we start this list with an app that is all about the Word of God. The YouVersion Holy Bible is a free app that has multiple Bible versions, languages, daily verses for contemplation, audio bibles, and even devotionals when you need to dig deeper.
It’s incredibly easy to use, and you can even highlight passages, use bookmarks so you can easily go back to where you stopped, and create notes for your better immersion to The Word. There is even a social element to it – you can see what your friends highlighted and bookmarked (if set to public), and you can even comment, share ideas, and ask questions as you and your friends study biblical truths together. Far from being a solitary journey, the search for truth is better undertaken with trusted friends.
Pray: The Catholic Novena App
If you’re a Catholic, this Novena app could be particularly useful for you. While there are many novena apps out there that could help you complete the nine-day Catholic prayers, this app has the additional functionality of connecting you to other users so you could intercede for each other.
Stemming from Jesus’ teaching that “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” (Matthew 18:20) this app enables you and your friends – even whole communities – to pray novenas together for specific purposes. Once you’ve chosen who you want to pray with you, you can pick a specific prayer intention and the app will supply you and your partners with each day’s prayer.
Waze is a must-app for anyone who travels along the city streets of the Philippines, but if you need another reason to install it, here’s another one: it can help you avoid traffic during your Visita Iglesia. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re in the province you will automatically avoid the horrible traffic that marks everyday Manila. Everyone else might have the same idea as you, and getting stuck in the middle of the road when you planned on some quiet time at churches can be incredibly frustrating. Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re taking the most efficient routes this Lent.
Christian Music Apps
CBN Radio and Christiana.fm are both excellent Christian music apps that could help you nurture your passion and devotion to Christ. You can choose songs by genre (Instrumental, Contemporary, Christian Rock, Praise, Kids, etc.) or by artist. You can also make a personalized playlist so you can just relax and let the heavenly music lift you up – a useful tool when paired with Waze as you traverse the roads.
And while you can arguably find the same songs on the more famous Spotify, it’s also useful to have a specialized music app so you don’t have to spend a lot of time going through thousands of songs and options. And in the case of the CBN Radio app, you can even record a 30-sec message to let the people behind the app know what you think, what you’d like to hear, or even if you have a prayer request.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If true, this means that merely reading your Bible may be inadequate practice, given how powerful the material is.
Perhaps, we are shortchanging ourselves with just a cursory reading of the Bible. With the Verses app, you can start memorizing Scripture in a fun and easy way. Instead of brute forcing your memory, Verses gamifies the activity to make it easier. The app has memory games to advance and keep track of your progress alone & with friends. Citing that a little competition can be a good thing, you can even create a collection and invite your friends to keep each other accountable.
If you believe that God should be first in your life, the people at Proverbs 31 Ministries created an app based on a simple, yet elegant idea that should appeal to you: what if you can devote the first five minutes of your day to God, instead of getting distracted by something as humdrum as social media or the thousands of things you have to mind today? How much different would your day be if you prioritize the precious few moments at the beginning of your day to something quiet and meaningful instead of the millions of things screaming for your attention?
With First5, you can set an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and then give you a daily devotional that will take no more than 5 minutes for you to read. The app also acts as a Bible study guide that (the app developers claim) can help you sense real progress in your understanding of the Bible.
The PureFlix app (which you can use on your Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and smartphones) is a video streaming app that acts as an alternative to the usual Hollywood content out there. The developers have no compunctions about their purpose: they want to be the “highest quality, most extensive, and trusted faith-based and family-friendly video streaming source on the web”. If you have a lot of free time on your hand this Lent or if you want to make sure that what the kids will be watching are exclusively wholesome family entertainment, give this app a try. The first month is free, so if you find the selection lacking, you can always opt out with no worries.
The Confession app for the iPhone is what the developers call a “conscious-based” app, where you can review the sacraments and the Ten Commandments in preparation for the Rite of Penance. It’s password-protected, so you can input the things you feel you need to confess during the rite.
Imagine harnessing the power and efficiency of technology to level up your faith… the idea is certainly with merit and worth a try. So take the opportunity this Lent to get a tech boost and see how high your faith can soar.