November 1, 2019 — In a previous blog post, I wrote about the importance of looking after our inner lives, however frantic our professional, family, social or virtual worlds might become. At the time, I praised the Jesuit Prayer app for its ability to inject a certain regularity and depth into my daily prayers. Also, in another blog, we have listed the variety of apps available to those seeking to use technology to cultivate their relationship with God.
Without completely abandoning this app, over the last couple of months I have also started using Prie en Chemin (or the British version, Pray as you go). I must admit, I fell instantly and completely in love with it. Although I’m perfectly bilingual, I didn’t always find myself in the English translations of the Word which guided the prayers, nor in the biblical commentaries by the authors who have worked with Jesuit Prayer, who are, for the most part, American. Pray as you go has allowed me to counteract the “culture-lag” I felt while using Jesuit Prayer (though I can’t fault the fantastic intentions of its designers!).
While Jesuit Prayer focuses on a more literary relationship with the Word of God (where one reads and reflects on biblical texts), Pray as you go (and Prie en chemin) is based around listening and the narration of the holy texts. It seems to me that this emphasis on orality brings us closer to the essence of the Word of God, which has long been passed on by word of mouth, from heart-to-heart and from generation to generation. It also brings us closer to our usual manner of engaging with the Word at the heart of our liturgies, which is to say (once again) through orality. From my very first time using the app, I fell in love with this aspect. Closing my eyes and opening my ears wide, I dove more deeply into myself, following along more attentively with the musicality, the rhythm and—it goes without saying—the prophetism and spiritual richness of the Gospel.
The chosen narrators inject a warmth and an extra touch of soul and decorum to the Word. I’d also like to praise the brave decision to entrust the reading to a duo made up of a man and a woman, who alternately read the gospel or direct the prayer, all in the spirit of parity and equality. The developers of Pray as you go also had the great idea to use musical bridges (which are incidentally excellent) in the form of lyrical or liturgical chants that harmonise perfectly with the Gospel of the day. I found that these musical interludes let me, once again, dive more deeply into myself, taking me out of the outside world and allowing to speak more freely with the Lord.
Finally, I should also point out that Pray as you go is deeply rooted in the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises. Before or after reading the Gospel, the voiceovers often lead to imaginary exercises inspired by the composition of place so dear to Ignatius, helping us to inwardly “see,” “feel,” “taste” and “touch” the Word of God and follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Pray as you go also bridges contemplation and action, asking us to let ourselves be called by a word, phrase or verse that has just been read. From here, we can make it the object of our prayer discussion or heart-to-heart with Jesus and ask Him to bless us to live out the Word both in our actions and in the callings of the Holy Spirit.
Another Ignatian aspect worth mentioning is repetition. Faithful to the pedagogy of the Spiritual Exercises, Pray as you go invites us to re-listen to the day’s biblical text at the end of our session of prayer and oration, coming back to it with a fresh perspective and in light of the blessings we have asked for, or even the questions and realizations that arose within us during our prayer.
For all these reasons, and many others, I’ve become addicted to the Pray as you go app, and it has become my travel companion, guiding my morning prayers.
By Frédéric Barriault