Early morning prayer and app shopping

Developing the discipline of early morning prayer and Scripture reading is important to us as Christians, but it’s not easy. I resisted this practice for years, despite hearing and reading multiple exhortations. What finally got me was this quote from George Washington Carver:

All my life I have risen regularly at four o’clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There He gives me my orders for the day.…When people are still asleep I hear God best and learn my plan.*

I have found great joy in this simple practice, though I sometimes struggle with focus and with deepening my prayers. I’ve tried using devotionals. Among my favorites are The Daily God Book and My Utmost for His Highest. But you can only read the same devo so many times.

Bible study apps have been helpful, to a degree. I use Olive Tree’s Bible Study app most of the time now. I like its user interface, and it has tons of reading plans. The chronological plan is my favorite. I’ve read through the Bible using this app several times now, but this year I really got bogged down in Deuteronomy.

Bible study app

Illustration © Alberto Masnovo • fotolia.com

So I went looking for a new app to liven things up. I thought maybe something lectionary-based would suit my Judicious temperament. The Roman church has several, and the Episcopalians have a couple. I was pleasantly surprised to find one from my own denomination: Daily Prayer from the PC(USA). It’s a really simple app, but I like it.

But while I was searching the other options, another one caught my eye: Bible Study That Doesn’t Suck. This app isn’t released by any denomination, though its contributing pastors are Lutheran. Here’s how the developer, Megan Rohrer, describes her app:

Bible Study that uses multimedia to provide postmodern commentary about ancient themes. Videos, pop music, geeky church talk, and conversations with grandma will help you get a deep understanding of weekly Bible texts—but without all the abusive baggage that some folk have invented to justify prejudice, homophobia sexism, ableism, and whatever yucky stuff people do in the name of the Bible.

She concludes her description with this sobering thought: “We hope this project will remind you that no matter how many times people have lied to you about it, God does in fact love you. Just as you are and all that you will become.”

So this search for a new devotional became for me a devotional itself.

There is great hope in that message for those who have been hurt by church people. There is also great conviction there. We must always remember that God does love those people we’re tempted to shun. We should continually pray for the ability to see them as God does.

Jesus often rebuked people for their behavior. He could do that, because he was the One Sinless Judge. We can point people to his words, but we can’t render judgment as he does. Yet even in his rebukes—and please remember, his harshest rebukes were for religious hypocrites like the Pharisees—he still welcomed people. He dined with them, instructed them, and healed them.

Jesus never shunned anyone. As his followers, neither should we.

* Clark, Glenn (2013-08-20). The Man Who Talks With The Flowers (Kindle Locations 203-205). Start Publishing LLC. Kindle Edition. I footnote this because I spent the better part of the morning tracking down this citation. THAT is a whole other blog post.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

3 comments on “Early morning prayer and app shopping

  1. Kristen- good for you. It was honest and an inspiration. We are called to be Lights into the world. To be who we ate called to be, we must in His Words, “Be holy as He is holy.” We can strive as He says to emulate the Father.
    I had to be very disciplined to grab my coffee when I got up, after teeth brushing etc was done. Then before I got into the coffee, I prayed. It didn’t have to be a long prayer as we are asked to pray three times daily at least. As the apostles did. But I wanted my first prayer of the day to be one of thanks for the very breath He have me to begin another day. And all the blessings He has given me that I least deserve. I’d slip and sit down with my I Phone and get some eye catching texts and off if be without even doing a short Bible study first.
    I have to yet be very disciplined to maintain a devoted regimen of praying and then a short study. We have many web telecasts we can watch from our church. So I have found that due to focus problems, it’s best to pray several times a day and when I take a break, watch a short web cast which lifts me up. It breaks up the problem of focus and getting bogged down. One of our pastors recently said that “Christ’s ministry, He never sinned once.” I guess I knew that but somehow it clicked as he said that if Christ had sinned mankind would have been doomed.” It put things in a deeper focus and I realized that although I can never measure up in this life to Christ , I can try harder given all He’s done without ever sinning. And He did it for us .
    I commend you for your effort and desire to be the best you can be in your walk with Christ.
    God bless you – yisraela

  2. Merry Christmas Kristen *<:-)

    Love the Sinner, hate the sin… This includes my own sin… Sin is a DRAG!!!

    I am thankful for God's love and His gift of Salvation and Forgiveness.

    Kristen, thank you for the excellent topic this time and especially for sharing other avenues for devotionals and Biblical Studies. I know what you mean about reading the same devotional over and over again… STALE!

    Just a few of my own picks are:




    These are a few I utilize on-line, however my preference is a hard copy of the inTouch Devotional FREE monthly magazine. I utilize it daily during my first cup of coffee, it also includes a plan to read the Bible in a year. I have worked judiciously at reading through the Bible in a year this year and have missed the mark. I hope and pray that I achieve that at some point before I leave this world.

    One last tip:
    Something I learned many years ago from a 97 yr. old man ( he looked in his late 60's) that I met at physical rehab one morning. I asked him what he contributed his life's longevity to, and he said, that every morning when he woke up he sticks his arms and legs in the air, shakes them about while thanking and praising God for a new day. I have been doing this daily too, and not only are you getting you day off with praise for Our Father but you are waking your bodies circulatory system up too.

    Keep up the Good Fight!
    Thank God that He Loves Us Sinners.

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