“Pray without ceasing.” Easy right? Well, yes and no. It’s no wonder that there are many prayer notebooks, Bibles and apps to help people. This is why the YouVersion Prayer feature is worth a look.
Although there are many prayer apps out there, the latest one from YouVersion takes a few unique decisions, not least of all the fact that it’s built straight into the most popular Bible application in the world. So I guess it’s really a feature rather than an app, but I believe it’s worth comparing it to a standalone app.
What is Prayer by YouVersion? And how does it work
Prayer is an feature in the YouVersion to share prayers with your network. This is unlike most applications which either provide liturgical and devotional prayers or help you track prayers for other people and groups (such as PrayerMate and Echo).
In your apps home section, you can see a prayer list with icons for who has added a prayer. Here, you can add a prayer, read and pray for someone else or update your prayer.
But there’s more to this feature than just that.
What’s good about prayer from YouVersion?
As Prayer is built into the YouVersion Bible app, you don’t need to have a second app installed and it’s integrated with the most popular Bible app in the world. This brings a couple of benefits
- If you are connected to your friends and church community in the app, then this prayer app is already connected to them as well.
- You can easily “pray” over verses. Just highlight the verse, and add it as a prayer.
The YouVersion Prayer feature also provides you with prompts and suggestions to help you think of things to pray for. One of the really great touches here is that the suggested prompts start with thanksgiving rather than requests. Not that supplication is wrong, but it’s not great when all our prayers are focused on requests.
Once you’ve written a prayer you can choose exactly who you want to share your prayers with. This means you don’t have to share all your prayers with all your contacts, great for issues you don’t want to share with everyone.
Your contacts can then tap a button which says “pray” and you’ll receive a notification informing you that they have prayed. You can then add updates to your prayers and mark them answered to keep your contacts informed.
All these features together make Prayer a really easy way to share prayer requests and thanksgiving with your contacts and provide an ongoing update.
But it’s not perfect.
What’s not so good about prayer from YouVersion
Prayer makes some different decisions from most other prayer apps. The primary perspective is that these are your prayers for yourself rather than helping you track and remember prayers for other people and groups. You can force prayer to work with this way (by sharing prayers just with you and changing their titles) but it’s not made that way.
Another issue is that there isn’t any tool to create a set of prayer contacts so every time you share a prayer, you have to select the people you want to share with. This adds extra time and mental processing (“Should I share this with John? Maybe not this time.”)
I also wonder if this approach (of prayers being shared with us rather than choosing to record prayer requests for people) leads to users “tapping pray” without actually praying, in the same way we sometimes say we’ll pray for someone…and then forget (just me?)
It’s also worth pointing out that users may not want to see prayer requests in their Bible app. YouVersion’s community features already presenting an interesting challenge / mixed reactions. Some people enjoy them and other want a more focused interface for their app without seeing verses others are highlighting, for example.
YouVersion’s Prayer is a really unique approach to a prayer app that makes very different decisions from other prayer apps. For many people it will be a great addition to their Bible app. I’m looking forward to seeing how people engage with it going forward.
Are you aware of the new YouVersion Prayer feature? If you’ve used what are you thoughts so far?