Hallow-ed be thy prayer app
Next time you see someone looking at their phone during Mass, resist the urge to tut. They could be making use of a prayer app. Parsimonious sinner, Francis Brough, takes a look a the best – and the cheapest.
They say there is an app for everything, so it’s no surprise to find a plethora of Catholic prayer apps helping the faithful and, in some cases, making good money.
The most popular is Hallow, designed along the same lines as other popular mindfulness apps, and costing around £7 a month.
There really is everything you would ever need to pray without ceasing here with hundreds of audio-guided meditations of various lengths, Bible readings, sleep aids and even an ever-expanding library of music – everything from Gregorian chant to Kumbaya.
Soothing voices and sounds from religious life or creation help create a great feeling of wellbeing and calmness, the fact that this is rooted in faithful Roman teaching rather than New Age mysticism makes it easy to recommend. The meditations that help send you to sleep and fill your dreams with angels and clouds were particularly useful.
I enjoyed my free trial although not enough to start paying. One gives freely, yet grows all the richer, so the Bible tells us, but that was written in the days before gas bills. Besides, there are plenty of free apps available for us more parsimonious penitents.
Laudate – iPhone or Android – was one of the first free apps and remains popular, offering a no-nonsense presentation of religious resources such as the Bible, the Catechism, the Liturgy of Hours and so on. There’s also Magnificat doing a like-minded job and Tabella, which is similar to Hallow, albeit with a lot less content and frills.
The Vatican’s Click to Pray app was launched in 2019 to help us pray for the Pope, the challenges of humanity and the Church's mission.
Pray As You Go, which was designed by the Jesuits, is the pick of the free bunch, with daily prayer sessions delivered in euphoniously British and Irish tones.
The app’s main feature revolves around the Examen of Consciousness, an examination of how one has lived the day and an awareness of God’s presence.
While the other apps encourage lots of prayer, this one focuses on quality over quantity. Giving yourself time and quiet to dream of God, to feel His closeness certainly feels enriching. It encourages reflection and reconciliation and while this is (for me at least) not always a comfortable process, it is a useful one.
Another one you are bound to try is the Vatican’s own Click to Pray app (also free), which was launched in 2019 with the intention of helping us pray “everyday for the intentions of the Pope for the challenges of humanity and the mission of the Church”.
The idea is you log-in each day for a new intention, pray about it and then click to say you’ve done so, which results in a “thanks for praying” message which feels a little similar to those “thanks for paying” ones you get with online shopping.
Casting a gimlet eye over the app, I noticed a plea for the environment received a respectable 14270+ prayers, yet only 921 prayed for success on the Pope’s journey to Budapest while a mere 136 joined the Holy Father in praying for the poor people of Ethiopia.
Why so cool on Ethiopia, brethren? I quickly made that 137.
The most striking, and most moving, part of this app – similarly with the paid versions – is the community section where folk standing in the need of prayer share their own intentions.
So many families torn asunder, children with serious illnesses, people hoping against hope for a fresh start. I got into the habit of coming back to this each day.
It would give me great comfort to know that someone else was praying beside me and so with each click I felt that despite all my weakness I was at least able to help someone else.