As followers of Jesus Christ, we are expected to grow in our faith on a regular basis. Our daily goal is to be more like Jesus today than we were the day before. To fervently pursue godliness in our thoughts, our words, our relationships, our attitudes, and our behaviors.
Unfortunately, our pursuit of godliness won’t just happen by chance. While it is certainly true that God works in us both to will and work according to His good purpose, He expects us to work with Him toward that end (see Philippians 2:12-13). In other words, we must be intentional in our walk with the Lord. We must work hard to grow in godliness. Paul says it this way to his young protégé, Timothy: “Train yourself in godliness.”
In other words, we should approach our spiritual growth the same way an athlete would train for an upcoming competition. That includes intentionality, determination, and hard work as we practice the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, worship, service, etc. In addition, a proper training program also includes the use of appropriate equipment to enhance our “spiritual workouts.”
When Paul wrote those words in 1 Timothy 4:7, I don’t think smartphone apps were what he had in mind as the proper spiritual training equipment. That wasn’t the world he lived in. But it is our world. According to the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Americans (81%) own a smartphone. That’s our reality.
While smartphones can certainly have damaging effects on our spiritual growth, they can become valuable assets to our spiritual development when used properly. With that thought in mind, here are 7 categories of apps that will help you train yourself in godliness:
#1: Bible Reading & Devotional Apps
Bible reading is one of the most important spiritual disciplines for any follower of Christ (along with prayer). There are many Bible reading apps available so that even when you don’t have a hardcopy of the Bible with you, God’s Word is always just a couple of taps away.
A similar category of apps are devotional apps. These apps will often include a brief daily devotional based upon a Bible verse along with one or two application or reflection questions. In addition, many of these apps also include teaching videos, sermons, and other resources as well. While some Bible reading apps include devotionals, not all devotional apps include an online Bible.
There are so many devotional apps available that it’s hard to choose one or two to highlight. However, I’ll mention Life Action’s app simply because that’s the devotional app I am currently using.
#2: Screen Time Apps
As I mentioned earlier, our smartphones and tablets can be incredibly helpful devices, but we can also waste a lot of time on our screens by scrolling through social media newsfeeds, funny cat videos, endless news headlines, or playing mindless games. While these activities are not inherently evil, too much screen time can consume the time we should be spending in our spiritual workouts.
As John Piper once said, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” Therefore, I would encourage you to utilize some type of Screen Time app to limit the amount of time you spend on your time-wasting apps.
I have an iPhone, and I use the pre-installed Screen Time app in Settings to limit the amount of time I spend on social media each day. It also syncs across all of my devices (phone, tablet, and computer) so that I can’t jump from one device to the next when my limit has been reached. Once I have exhausted my time allotment, I’m locked out on all of my devices for those apps that I specify. It’s amazing how much time this will free up to attend to your spiritual well-being!
#3: Habit Tracking Apps
While I’m no health expert, I do know that the majority of fitness trainers will advise their clients not to skip a scheduled workout if possible. The same is true for our spiritual workouts. Skipping a day of Bible reading makes it easier to skip another day. Two days soon turn into a week, and a week can turn into a month, and before you know it, you’re completely out of spiritual “shape”.
That’s why I recommend using some type of Habit Tracking app so that you can log your spiritual workouts each day. There are many apps available, but I use Strides. Every day, I can log if I’ve read my Bible, prayed, and any other habits that I want to maintain (it’s not an app limited to spiritual activities, so I use it for other habits as well).
Habit tracking apps such as Strides will also keep track of your streaks. Quite honestly, there are some days when I don’t feel like practicing my spiritual disciplines. However, if I discover that skipping that day will ruin a long streak of consecutive days, that might just be the motivation I need to pull out my Bible and get to work. In God’s providence, I have often found those to be some of my sweetest times with the Lord.
#4: Prayer Apps
Prayer is another spiritual discipline that should be a part of every Christian’s daily spiritual workout program. Thankfully, there are many apps available to assist you in maintaining an attitude of prayer throughout your day.
The best prayer apps will help you keep track of your personal prayer list and will send you notifications when it’s time for you to pray for a specific item. Many will allow you to record when the Lord answers a certain prayer request. Some prayer apps will include suggested daily prayers as well.
One app that I will mention is not just a prayer app. It is the International Mission Board’s Advance app. The app lists several specific prayer requests from Christian missionaries all over the world, with several new requests added each day. (On the date of this post, there were at least 10 new prayer requests added.) This is a great way to pray not only for your personal requests, but also for missionaries and people groups all around the globe. In addition to prayer, the app includes many other resources to help you develop a heart for the nations.
#5: Accountability Apps
Another danger with our devices is the ease with which we can access content that dishonors the Lord and stifles our spiritual growth. Pornography poisons minds and damages a Christian’s witness, and the percentage of Christian men who reportedly view porn at least once a month is staggering (64%, according to Covenant Eyes). In addition, few churches (only 7%) have a ministry program for those struggling with porn.
Thankfully, there are apps available to help Christians combat this significant obstacle to spiritual growth. These screen accountability apps (such as Covenant Eyes) will monitor and analyze images that appear on all of your devices, and they will send regular reports to those individuals whom you have enlisted as accountability partners. In addition, these apps provide other resources to help those struggling with a pornography addiction.
If you’re struggling in this area, I would highly recommend downloading an accountability app today and begin breaking free from the addiction!
#6: Journaling Apps
Another practice of many Christians is to maintain a daily journal to keep a record of their thoughts, prayers, and lessons learned from their Bible reading. While many may prefer to use a physical journal, there are apps available to maintain an online journal as well. This can be helpful especially in circumstances where you don’t have your physical journal with you.
There are many journaling apps on the market. If you’d like to use an app specifically designed as a journal, Day One is a great option. However, you can also use a note taking app such as Apple Notes or Evernote as well.
#7: Evangelistic Apps
Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples of all nations by going, baptizing, and teaching. Evangelism is therefore critical to the advancement of God’s kingdom, but many Christians fail to share their faith. There are several reasons why, but one of the most common is a fear of not knowing what to say.
Thankfully, there’s an app for that.
If you really want a spiritual workout, let me encourage you to download one or two apps that will help you share your faith with others. My personal favorite is the Life on Mission app which uses the “3 Circles” evangelistic method to share the gospel. In addition, you’ll find many other resources provided by the North American Mission Board to help you share your faith.
Another app is GodTools, provided by Cru. This app includes several of Cru’s most effective evangelist booklets (such as the Four Spiritual Laws) available in digital format. There are also training tutorials available to help you learn how to share your faith as well.
Your Favorite Apps?
I love to hear from readers after any of my posts. However, I’d especially love to hear from you this time. What apps do you use to help you train yourself for godliness?