ELKHART, Ind. — Users in 15 countries across six continents have downloaded a new free mobile app version of Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book in the four weeks since its launch on Oct. 23.
The app contains the entire text of both print volumes of the prayer book — Ordinary Time and Advent through Pentecost — which were published in 2007 and 2010 by Herald Press in collaboration with the Institute of Mennonite Studies, the research agency of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
“In its new electronic guise, Take Our Moments is a resource for people on the go and for ad hoc groups,” said Eleanor Kreider, an author and former mission worker in the United Kingdom who was part of the editorial group that developed the prayer books at AMBS over a period of seven years. “Being able to offer the content via a free app also removes barriers of cost and shipping.”
Kreider noted that the morning and evening prayer services — whose Anabaptist flavor is conveyed through the predominance of Jesus’ voice, space for communal reflection on Scripture and the choices of Bible readings — have appealed to users across various cultures, languages and Christian traditions.
She recalled when she and her late husband, Alan Kreider, were asked to lead morning prayers for an ecumenical workshop and chose to use the prayer book.
“We were astonished at the universal delight in Take Our Moments,” she said. “The Anglicans recognized the overall structure of the Daily Office, the Baptists liked the emphasis on biblical words, the Pentecostals felt at home with the free prayers, and the Mennonites loved to pray through the songs.”
The Ordinary Time volume — which contains a four-week cycle of prayers based on the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, Jesus’ parables and Jesus’ miracles — has been published in French and Korean. Kreider is aware of German, Spanish, Lithuanian and Japanese Christians who are using the services, too.
“A married couple who had never prayed together because of differing pieties found they could now do so, using the prayer book, because it provided both prescribed biblical wordings and places for free prayers,” she said.
Families who had never held devotions have told her the prayer book has enabled them to enjoy reading Scripture and praying together, with school-age children helping lead and younger ones offering their own prayers of thanks and petitions.
Easy for newcomers
IMS managing editor Barb Nelson Gingerich, who oversaw development of the app, said print users had been asking for a digital version. Gifts from several donors, including the Anabaptist Foundation in Vancouver, B.C., made it possible for IMS to contract with James Stuckey Weber to design it.
Gingerich said she finds it easy to use the app in orienting newcomers to the prayer practice. For more than a decade, she and her husband, James Nelson Gingerich, have hosted weekday morning prayer services in their Goshen home using the book.
“Usually we’re helping newcomers find their way with ribbons, flipping pages, etc., all the way through, but the app is user-friendly and easy to navigate,” she said. “Everything you need is in one place.”
Currently the app is only available in English.
“Right now, the app is pretty basic,” Gingerich said. “When it is used more widely, we’d like to get a sense of what people would value in terms of enhancements.”
AMBS vice president and CFO Ron Ringenberg is excited about the portability and accessibility of the app and plans to use it with his small group and also when traveling.
“The idea of making use of the intelligence of the smartphone for this purpose makes a whole lot of sense,” he said. “I’m thankful that there are individuals who thought it worthy to fund the development of the app.”
Marty Troyer, pastor of Houston Mennonite Church, is a prayer book user who has welcomed the app version.
“Over the years the Anabaptist Prayer Book has shaped how I see myself as a Christ-follower, energized my public witness as a peacemaker and aligned me over and over again with the God of love and shalom justice,” he said. “What is my identity in Christ? Who and how is God in the world? And how can I use my best gifts to join God in spreading that beautiful good news?
“The Anabaptist Prayer Book eases us from the stuck pattern of prayer as list to prayer as becoming.”