This my be my most audacious post on my blog. One in which I offer prayer advice. When it comes to praying badly I am quite an expert at it. Really though this post is how to help to develop the habit of prayer for some personality types. Plus with Lent starting, just possibly what I offer might be useful to someone.
I really put the pro in procrastinating and so even things I prioritize gets put off for later and then don’t get done at all for that day. Why put off something today you can put off tomorrow? Really I have been thinking about doing this post for a couple of weeks.
Last year I got an Apple Watch and I soon found that the activity tracker was very helpful for me. For one the three-ring activity indicator was a constant reminder I was failing in one of those areas. So I started to prioritize exercising each day and looking for opportunities to walk. I soon found I was doing this every single day, even on days when I could have found tons of reasons not to do it that day. I have maintained this for over six months now and went down some pant sizes and have made this a habit every day of the week.
During this I was observing myself and wondering why this visual indicator was so important to me? Part of it was maintaining a streak and continuously hitting the goals. A visual indicator of an accomplishment. But I also found that even when I was unable to exercise because of sickness or travel, that when able to do so again – did so. So it got me into the habit to the point where it was a habit.
Still as much as physical health is important, I wanted to prioritize my prayer life even more. So I figured that if the activity rings provided me the motivation I needed, then maybe something could help me likewise in my prayer life. Around the same time I had been thinking about this I had seen various app reviews about goal oriented apps where you could set daily goals to check off each day with various options.
One of the prayers I have continued in since even before I officially entered the Church was the Liturgy of the Hours. Really I had been pretty good starting my day with the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, but Evening and Night Prayer would often fall away – especially on weekends. The same for the Rosary – I normally would pray it towards the end of the day during the first part of the week, but weekends rarely.
So I wanted to set two goals. One to pray those hours in the Liturgy of the Hours that I sometimes didn’t get to and to be much more consistent in praying the Rosary.
So around the beginning of the year I bought an an iOS app called Strides: Goals & Habits Tracker + SMART Goal Setting and set these two daily goals. I was also able to set the time where it would show an indicator that one of my goals needed attention. So now for over a month I have not failed to meet these two goals daily.
So for whatever reason my personality quirks found this method useful in meeting goals and actually planning a head of time to make sure I provide the time for this. When it comes to exercise and prayer it certainly does take a significant block of time each day – but what I would fill that block with otherwise would be less helpful for me. I also found that more consistency in praying the Rosary was actually helpful in praying the Rosary for me. There was another prayer hack that I added in praying the Rosary, but I will discuss that on another day.
No doubt this technique will not work for everybody. You have to care about some indicator badge on an app and it has to annoy you enough to meet the goal.
The app I used – Strides has been getting the job done for me. It is fairly easy to setup and to interact with daily. Although based on this review I would probably have bought Streaks instead as it seems to be the better designed app. Momentum Habit Tracker is another possible consideration for much more tracking. I admit the main reason I haven’t switched over to Streaks is that I already have a months worth of data in Strides and while losing it would really mean nothing, there is psychological momentum connected with it.
No doubt there are equivalent apps on Android, although the one they have called Streaks is a habit reminder, but is is not from the same creators as the iOS app of that name.