Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom, writer, editor, marketing professional, and coffee drinker. You’re just as likely to find her hiding out back with a book as you are to discover her playing in the yard with a few farm animals (or wait — are those her kids?) She is the author of many books, the most recent of which she co-edited with Lisa Hendey: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections. She blogs at SnoringScholar.com and writes online regularly at CatholicMom.com. Reinhard holds a master’s degree in marketing and communications and has worked for many years in corporate and nonprofit organizations. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and children.
On the one hand, I'm always eager to find ways to integrate my prayer life into everything, and technology that helps me do that gets my attention.
On the other hand, I'm distracted enough by the many screens in my life. Can't my prayer life be hard copy? Do I really need another app? In the case of the the Echo prayer app, yes. Loudly, eagerly, emphatically, yes.
I discovered it thanks to a friend who referenced it offhandedly, as in, "You could use an app like Echo to help you keep track of your prayers." It was so casual, and not even hyperlinked, that were I not always, always, on the lookout for apps, I would have missed it.
That was about a week ago. Has this app changed my life? Well, no. But it has given me a way to organize my prayers that brings them to mind and puts them right in front of me.
If you're like me, you have about 500 things on your prayer list and the mental capacity to handle ten of them at any one time. So what about the other 490? Enter Echo, where you can do a brain dump and come back and organize them later (or not, because maybe they don't need to be organized after all).
Then, lest you get overwhelmed by that list of 500, you can use reminders. Maybe you pray for all your aunts and uncles on Tuesdays, or at 5 PM every day, or on the 17th of every month. You could set up a reminder to pray on that special yearly anniversary of Grandpa's death or your daughter's wedding. There are as many ways to use this as you can imagine, and it's as easy and unimposing as any app I have ever used.
When you start to pray, by clicking the "Pray" button, you have the option to set up timers. Maybe you want to spend 30 seconds with each item on your list...or maybe you want to spend a set amount of time focusing on one particular item.
Echo's easy enough to use that you can jump right in: I added my top-of-mind prayers in under five minutes. As more pressing matters come to my prayers, I plan to use the customized reminders. I also plan to integrate more of the features, like the ability to mark prayers Answered. The app saves these answered prayers in a list...and having a list like that of answered prayers might be just the jolt of hope I need.
Echo was designed to help its users pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). It's completely free, without in-app purchases. Yes, you read that right. (I couldn't believe it either.) From their website: "We made it for the Church and are happy to be able to share this with everyone as a tool to help people pray."
Founder Ben Rugg started with the intention of starting a web application. His goal? Keep track of his prayers and get reminders to pray for those in his small group. In eight years, it turned into 20,000 users and 100,000 prayer reminders via email and text message.
Echo was a side project for Rugg and his business partner, Jim Elliston, until earlier this year, when it launched as an iPhone app and, soon after, as an Android app. (It's also available for Apple Watch.)
"Echo's number one goal is to help people pray," and this isn't just marketing copy. It's the reality of using this app. Give it a try...and maybe you'll find a new way to engage with God and make space for the most important relationship you have.