A few years back The Atlantic ran an article called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The premise was that the more data that we entrust to the Internet and the faster that search engines like Google become, the less we trust in our own brains to store and retrieve information. On the other hand, David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” insists that getting all the loose bits of information out of your head and into a reliable source (whether digital or analog) frees our mental energy for creative applications and “big picture” vision casting.
Long before “google” was a verb, and when clouds held water droplets rather than data, pastors often had the custom of writing down little bits information that they didn’t want to forget — like the many requests for prayer that are often tossed our way during the week. I quickly found in my ministry that if I told someone, “I will keep you in my prayers,” I needed to write that request down very quickly afterwards lest I perjure myself through absentmindedness. And the note needed to be somewhere that I knew I would look again. My pastor’s desk agenda was mostly adequate, but often the hastily-scribbled requests would be scattered across multiple pages, with some crossed off (as prayers were answered) and others almost illegible in my haste to capture to capture the info. (“Did Alice ask for a prayer for surgery for her son, or that she would be having surgery soon?”)
I don’t care if my smart phone makes me stupid — as long as it helps me perform better in my ministry and be more faithful in my call as pastor. So I especially appreciate those apps that allow me to organize my thoughts and keep me from forgetting important details. Like prayer requests.
At the moment my favorite iOS app for that purpose is Prayer Notebook. Now, up front, it has two strikes against it for me and many readers of this blog in that it does not (yet) have an iPad version and cannot (yet!) sync prayer lists between devices. But the developer says these features are coming soon, and in the meantime the app functions very well without them. I use this app on my iPhone, but in my tests it seems to work fine in 2x mode on my iPad.
New prayers are added to any category that you create, with the ability to add notes and to link the request to a contact from your device’s contact list if desired. I really like the control over scheduling: I can set any request to show up on my daily prayer list every day, weekly or monthly on certain days, or on a specific date (like if I want a reminder on the day of a member’s scheduled surgery). Scheduling can be set for individual prayer requests as well as entire categories.When a prayer is marked as answered, it will no longer appear on your daily list.
Once you have your prayer list entered, tip the iPhone/iPad to landscape view and suddenly you are in prayer warrior mode. The prayer ideas you have scheduled for the day (along with any notes you’ve added) appear one at a time on the screen in the order you added them. Or you can re-order them alphabetically or by category. In active prayer mode you can add more notes, mark as answered, or send an SMS or email to person you just prayed for.You can even Tweet about it, but somehow to me that seems to go against the spirit of Matthew 6:5-8.
And to return to the opening thought of this post, if you’re not yet in the habit of checking the app on a regular basis for prayer suggestions, you can also tell it to set an alert at a certain time to remind.
Prayer Notebook is currently on sale until Friday for $0.99 in the iTunes App store.