"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
It goes without saying that 2020 has been an extraordinary year, bringing with it challenges many of us have never had to face before. And yet in the face of all that has happened, what the world needs more than anything else remains the same as ever: our world needs Jesus. In his divine providence, the primary way that God has determined that his gospel should be held out and displayed to the world is through his people, the church.
So often we Christians are divided and distracted, focussed inwards on our own concerns and mired in sin - and the world looks on with indifference and disillusionment. But that verse above from 2 Chronicles lays before us a remarkable vision of what might be if God's people were to together turn in repentance and prayer back to our creator, as God moves to act. We can't draw direct comparisons from Old Testament Israel to our present day "lands" - but God is still the same almighty God that he was back then, and it is through the gospel of his grace displayed in Jesus Christ that those around us will ultimately find true healing for both body and soul.
That is the vision which spurs us on here at Discipleship Tech: we long to see God's church mobilised in faithful prayer for this needy world, to see God's people on their knees in humble adoration of and faithful dependence upon our Heavenly Father. Because he has told us in his word that when we pray, he will hear, and he will act. God loves to answer his children's prayers!
It has been such an encouragement, therefore, to see during this strangest of years that the PrayerMate community has carried on praying. They have not given up or decided that prayer wasn't worth bothering with. By God's grace, even amidst the many new challenges the pandemic has brought, they have carried on with a habit of regular prayer. We are so grateful to have had the privilege of being a small part of helping that happen, and we give great thanks to God for all of you!
Stories from the Community
Rather than just quoting lots of numbers about PrayerMate, we wanted to start by putting the spotlight this year on the members of the community, and to share some of their own accounts of how they have experienced God's faithfulness in the midst of everything. Here are just a few of those that we received:
"In this exceptional year using PrayerMate has been invaluable. It has kept my prayer life on track as I found that concentration levels are low especially as the year has gone on so having this system each day gives me focus and a means to plug into God, our Father."
"PrayerMate has been a wonderful resource for me. I take my phone and walk, praying for those on my list. How the Holy Spirit has guided me and encouraged me to keep praying. I have seen God graciously answer many prayers."
"I started using the app 2 years ago and it has transformed my prayer life. I have always struggled to be consistent in praying and I find the structure of the app very helpful. This year, I have regularly checked in with friends and family about what I can be praying for them because I get the regular prompts of people's names on the app. It has been encouraging to hear back about answered prayer and blessings from God as well as people's perseverance in a very difficult year. "
"PrayerMate keeps my mind and heart focused on God and those in need."
"PrayerMate has been a great help to me this year to pray as I ought to-- this app helped me to adore my God (through resources), to remember to pray about the things that really matter (biblical prayers and Missions-related items), and to remember prayer requests that I would say I would pray about and would forget otherwise. This app did not only encourage me by seeing the Lord answer my prayers, but also encouraged my family and friends as well as they learn that someone is praying for them. May the Lord prosper the work of your hands, and may He be pleased to further use this app to cause a revival in our generation through our prayers!"
"I do have one very serious regret about the PrayerMate App.... That I didn’t subscribe earlier! Out with a variety of different books, sheets of paper, notes scribbled on various prayer diaries etc etc. It got to the point where my quiet time felt less like devotional prayer but more about management by paper while clock watching. PrayerMate has revolutionised my prayer time and helped me to improve my journey of developing a closer walk with our wonderful Lord."
"I would like to say that PrayerMate has helped me no end. Its encouraged me to pray on a daily basis for many people in my life. I've see how God answers prayers and that's because of my obedience in praying and believing God at his word. I also particular like the stories about what's going on in the world regarding the persecution of the Christian communities."
"PrayerMate has been wonderful in so many ways: keeping prayers upfront in my day; being inspirational and corrective through the amazing devotionals"
"PrayerMate has definitely helped my husband and me to be consistent in daily prayer not only for our smaller circle but for Gospel impact around the globe. Thank you so much."
"I use PrayerMate every morning. It’s the first thing I do as I get ready in the morning. It allows me to pray correctly (adoration, thanksgiving, confession, needs) and allows me to pray consistently for the people in my life. Thank you for this wonderful app!"
"Has greatly helped me stick to a daily prayer routine & structure."
It is especially wonderful to hear testimonies of answered prayer, and the encouragement which that has brought.
All told, 140k people have used PrayerMate this year, with record numbers of monthly active users in March-April (over 42k of them!). It reached a total of 444k downloads.
Together the PrayerMate community prayed for over 19 million prayer items in 2020 - over 1.6 million per month.
Think of everything represented by that number: every individual, every blinded heart, every gospel cause, every battle with temptation, every closed country, every hostile government, every grieving soul, every decision - and what God is and has been doing in response to all of those prayers. It gives us great hope as we look to the year ahead, trusting in His goodness and grace.
- 547 new churches signed up to the PrayerMate Platform
- 1,021 new prayer groups were created
- 3,380 new members joined groups
Many churches are finding that PrayerMate is a great way of helping foster a culture of prayerfulness amongst their members, and keeping people informed of how they can be praying for the ministry whilst it's hard to gather physically. If your church would like to sign up, head to the PrayerMate Platform.
New PrayerMate Functionality
This year saw the launch of our latest major update, PrayerMate version 7.
PrayerMate 7 included seven major new features, based on user feedback:
- Personal Search - using the magnifying glass icon on the 'My lists' column, you can now easily find and jump to specific subjects
- Search for organisations and content - now it is easier than ever to subscribe to organisations and download prayer packs using the combined search box on the 'Add' page. You can also search over your address book contacts to quickly add people to pray for.
- Card threads - a stepping stone towards future answered prayer functionality, now you can keep track of how a situation evolves over time using the new "Archive and replace card" button whilst editing. Previous cards will be tied together in a thread, or you can view all archived cards for a particular subject by tapping its "cog" button.
- Event reminders - add a reminder for specific events such as hospital appointments or job interviews, with an attached date and time. This will make sure that the subject is selected for prayer on the day of the event, and you can optionally receive a push notification as well.
- Custom prayer sessions - generate a prayer session using only selected lists for greater customisation.
- Standard share sheets on iOS - making it easier than ever to share the things you are praying or encourage those you are praying for.
- French and German translations - thanks to the help of some amazing volunteers, PrayerMate is now available in both French and German. We've also made great progress translating our PrayerMate Platform website (where organisations and churches can publish their prayer feeds) into German as well, in collaboration with the German Roundtable of Prayer.
It has been a real joy this year to be able to launch our second app, Redeeming Time. What started as a prototype two years ago finally became a reality, with a little help from our friend James Doc of Kingdom Code UK: a simple app to help us turn those spare snippets of time into opportunities to get into God's word and read the Bible. If you're someone who is fed up with wasting time on Social Media, the app invites you to explore what it would look like to "waste time" with God instead.
The response so far has been overwhelming - it has been such an encouragement to find out how much people are appreciating this simple app.
This app is a super-helpful tool in helping me not to waste time, and instead to be nourished, encouraged, re-directed by the Word. It’s super-easy to use from beginning to end.
I needed this!! This is such a brilliant idea. I don’t know how many times I’ve been simply bored, and turned to my phone to pass the time— this is an amazing way to help me redeem that time!
An excellent little app. A very clever idea and well made. It’s encouraged me to pause more throughout the day to ponder God’s word and pray. I’ve been recommending it to others in our church family. Thank you!
If you haven't tried it yet, do check out Redeeming Time, free on iOS and Android.
Back in April, when the UK was under lockdown, Andy participated in something called the COVID-19 Global Church Hackathon. He worked with the UK Charity CrossTeach, who would normally have been running an interactive "Easter Experience". They would invite classes full of school children in to local churches for a "whodunnit" murder mystery experience, helping them engage with the meaning of Easter. Obviously this couldn't happen this year, so we have been working hard to bring it online! We prototyped it during the Hackathon and then received a small grant later in the year to be able to finish it off. Here's our teaser trailer (not for sharing just yet):
It remains unclear whether they will be able to run the experiences in-person for 2021 or not, but even if they are, having an online version will be tremendously helpful - whether it's for reaching children in new geographic areas where CrossTeach doesn't currently work, or for training purposes. We hope to begin rolling it out in the new year.
Watch This Space: Bible Overview Mobile Game
Creating the Easter Experience has also got Andy excited again to go back to his roots and explore the idea of a Bible-based mobile game. They could be an excellent way of helping young people discover the meaning of the big Bible story and how it connects to our own story - and doing something in this space has been on Andy's heart since long before PrayerMate was even a seed of an idea. Dan Gould, a former games designer for EA and Frontier Developments who also studied at Oak Hill Theological College, has been doing a few days of design work to flesh out the concept, and we shall take a view soon as to whether to take Act 1 to the prototype stage. Watch this space!
After three years on the PrayerMate team as a backend developer, this autumn we said a fond farewell to Ed. Please join in giving great thanks to God for sending Ed along at just the right time. It has been such a blessing to Andy to have had Ed on the team to partner in this work (and to give him a stern talking to on more than one occasion when he was at risk of getting distracted!) His work, particularly on the PrayerMate Platform, has been transformative, and he will leave an indelible mark on the culture of Discipleship Tech.
But as one chapter closes, another one begins. We asked you to pray for our recruitment process, and God has wonderfully answered those prayers: we are delighted to announce that in 2021 we have not just one but TWO new mobile developers joining the team! The first is Matt, who will be joining us part time: having previously studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Matt is an exceptional Android developer and will be beginning by modernising PrayerMate for Android and its codebase.
Second up is Josh, who has recently completed a Masters course in Human Computer Interaction. He brings a much needed skillset to bear on PrayerMate, with a focus on User Experience and design, and will help us make sure that it is as easy to use as possible, so that it can better serve you in your prayers.
Please pray for both of them to get up to speed quickly and that God would use their work to bless many.
A big thank you is also due to Helen who has continued to faithfully serve you all, answering well over a thousand user support tickets this year!
All of the above has only been made possible because of the generous support of so many backers who have financially supported Discipleship Tech as we work on PrayerMate. Here's a quick overview:
- Roughly half of our income came from user donations/in-app patrons
- £32k donations
- £8.7k in-app patronage
- 1.4k in-app patrons
- 90 regular monthly donors (e.g. PayPal/Stewardship)
Your donations have directly supported a second developer on the team, helping us to continue to invest in making improvements to PrayerMate and the associated PrayerMate Platform website (used by the churches and charities who publish prayer feeds through the app). In 2021 we would value your support more than ever, as we seek to continue improving PrayerMate and developing new products - and especially with two new developers on the team. If you are able to consider making a regular monthly donation, or one off, please go to our website for details of how to set one up.
We do not take it for granted that our ministry has been able to continue in the middle of a global pandemic, and we are so thankful to God for all of you - whether you have used PrayerMate or Redeeming Time, whether you have prayed for us, whether you have shared our apps with others, or whether you have given financially. We pray that you may have grown deeper in your trust and dependence on Christ through whatever your personal circumstances, and we continue to trust his mercy for the year ahead.
Discipleship Tech CEO
Just in case you still haven't seen it, here's our PrayerMate Community Video from last year:
PrayerMate is a free app to help you be consistent in prayer. It is a ministry of Discipleship Tech, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered as a Charity in England and Wales (No: 1178838)