Reporting how many people performed a particular event in Google Analytics

Almost every website on the planet implements Google Analytics to help understand their traffic, and now a fair few mobile apps use it too. At its most basic it tracks the number of visitors/users and page views, but it can also be used to track specific “events” too, things like adding stuff to your basket or pressing a particular button, so that you can get a better understanding of how people are engaging with your product.

It turns out that there’s one incredibly important stat which (as far as I can tell) is ridiculously hard to get hold of: how many unique people performed a particular event?

“Unique Events”: What it is, and what it isn’t

When you look at an events report in Google Analytics, you see two headline stats: Total events and Unique events.
ga_events

The “Total events” is pretty obvious: the total number of times anybody has performed that event during the given time frame. The “unique events” however, is rather more confusing. As the help text explains, this is the number of unique sessions in which this event was performed. So if I log onto the website and add five products to my basket, that only counts as one unique event. If I come back tomorrow and add some more, that counts as a second “unique event”.

That confused me. For a long time I was labouring under the misunderstanding that it was the total number of users who had performed that event, so it always confused me that it came out higher than I was expecting.

Counting unique users

So if that’s not what “unique events” means, then how do I found out how many unique users have performed that event? As far as I can tell, the answer is depressingly complicated. The best way I’ve managed to find is to create a custom segment that segments the set of users based on whether or not they’ve performed that event. Then Google Analytics can tell me how many users are in my segment during the given timeframe.

Custom Segments

Custom segments are created by pressing the big down arrow button at the top of any given page. You can then create an advanced custom segment based on two conditions: the event action and (optionally) the event label (see picture above). This lets you create a segment based on having performed a particular action with the given label (if you want to see just people who have added one particular product, use the label, if you just want to see total people performing that event you can leave the label out). Then Google Analytics will tell you the number of people in that segment.

If you know of a quicker way to find out this information, I’d love to hear it!

If I had unlimited time…

Scarcity of time is one of God’s great inventions to make us get off our behinds and do something. Yet sometimes we wish it wasn’t so.

If I had unlimited time to work on PrayerMate, here’s some of the things I would do:

  • Spruce up the website to make it less cluttered and much more mobile friendly
  • Finish implementing syncing on the iOS version, and add it to the Android version too
  • Finish porting all of the features from the iOS version over to the Android version (I’m making good progress on this! Can’t wait to show off what I’ve done soon!!!)
  • Add support for private prayer feeds that aren’t publicised in the gallery
  • Create some kind of web based interface to manage your content
  • More tools for power users to import large amounts of prayer points (e.g. from CSV spreadsheets)
  • Make a better onboarding process to get new users up and running faster
  • Make an animated overview video to help introduce the core concepts of the app
  • Make a promo video for the Android version of the app to go on Google Play
  • Write some proper documentation for the PrayerMate Publishing Platform
  • Make a snazzy mobile-friendly landing page for the Publishing Platform to explain its benefits and how it works
  • Develop an analytics system so that content publishers can get regular reports on how people are actually using their content
  • Try to build some kind of way for users to visualise the “schedule” behind their upcoming prayer points, and manage their schedules more easily

Instead I must have patience and trust that God had a reason when he gave me the limited hours in the day that he has chosen to give me. If, however, any of you out there have skills and time that might be able to help out with some of those things, then I’m all ears – just hit the “Send feedback” button in side the app to drop me an email.

  • Do you have new-fangled HTML and web design skills and a good eye that you might be able to donate for a few hours?
  • Are you an experienced Android / iOS developer looking for a full-time/part-time gig for 3-6 months working on a Christian app?
  • Do you have pots of money to help fund an experienced Android or iOS developer working full-/part-time on a Christian app for 3-6 months with no guarantee of any financial return on your investment?

If any of the above fit you, drop me an email.

Adding cloud functionality to an Android app

It’s often said that Apple don’t do cloud services as well as Google, and one very clear example of this can be seen in the Android SDK. Right from API Version 1 Android has supported something called “Sync Adapters“. They’re a little convoluted to set up, but basically Android provides an abstract framework straight out of the box for adding any kind of background network sync behaviour you need to your app. It handles calling your sync task at suitable times, for optimum battery usage, and makes sure it all runs nicely in a background thread. All you need to do then is define the behaviour each time the sync is performed.

The step by step instructions here are pretty thorough in talking you through what you need to do. I got stuck at just a couple of points:

  1. Firstly, they provide incomplete code in step 3 for their CreateSyncAccount method. I had assumed that if addAccountExplicitly failed then that was a fatal error, so was returning a null account. In fact, you can ignore this error completely and still return the new account object you’ve created.
  2. In the final step, running your adapter, it would appear from what I’ve experienced and what I’m reading on StackOverflow that the documentation everywhere is completely lying to you, and you do in fact need to turn setSyncAutomatically ON even to use addPeriodicSync. What’s more, addPeriodicSync takes an interval in seconds not in milliseconds like the example code would suggest.
  3. Finally, the example code passes a null extras bundle to addPeriodicSync, but this will in fact cause an exception. So make sure you pass in a bundle, even if it’s completely empty.

Despite these initial hickups, Sync Adapters have given me a real headstart in adding online feed subscriptions to the Android version of PrayerMate, so consider me impressed.

Update: Big gotcha – setting the frequency

It’s worth being aware that if configured naively, your SyncAdapter could be run arbitrarily frequently, i.e. multiple times per minute, effectively constantly running in the background and draining the battery. You are therefore strongly advised to make sure your onPerformSync method sets the delayUntil property. Just be aware that the documentation on this is completely misleading – if you look at the source code to how the SyncManager works, delayUntil isn’t “the number of seconds to wait before running again” at all – it’s the absolute timestamp when it should next run. So don’t set syncResult.delayUntil = 60*10 to make it wait for ten minutes, instead set syncResult.delayUntil = (System.currentTimeMillis()/1000) + 60*10.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week: Day 5

This post is part of PrayerMate Amnesty Week. Yesterday we talked about how to download prayer content.

The idea that originally inspired me to develop the PrayerMate app was this paragraph from Don Carson’s “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” on how he prays for people:

“The rest of [my manilla folder] is filled with letters– prayer letters, personal letters, occasionally indepedent notes with someone’s name at the top. These are filed in alphabetical order. When a new letter comes in, I highlight any matters in it that ought to be the subject of prayer, and then file it in the appropriate place in the folder. The letter it replaces is pulled out at the same time, with the result that the prayer folder is always up to date. I try to set aside time to intercede with God on behalf of the people and situations represented by these letters, taking the one on the top, then the next one, and the next one, and so forth, putting the top ones, as I finish with them, on the bottom of the pile. Thus although the list of alphabetized, on any day a different letter of the alphabet confronts me.”

If you’re anything like me, you probably have an email inbox full of prayer letters that, on your better days, you read once, but which all too often never really go much further. Long gone are the days when I have a printer anywhere near my email inbox– I had the growing sense that the 21st century needed a digital equivalent to Don Carson’s manilla folder. Thus PrayerMate was born.

Today’s task: adding attachments

Today we’re going to look at two tasks to help you pray more fruitfully for your friends. Firstly, something that everybody can do: adding photos.

prayer_cardTap into a subject, and tap the “Photo” row. You can then pick something that represents that person, choose your cropping circle by dragging around and pinching to zoom in and out, and finally hit “Done” when you’re ready. Next time you pray, that person’s face will pop up as a little reminder to help you think of them.

Next, let’s add a PDF attachment. There’s two ways to do this: the most likely route is via your email inbox. If anybody’s ever emailed you a PDF prayer letter, open it up in your email client, then when you tap on the attachment you should get the option to “Open with…” PrayerMate (if you’re on iOS) or if you’re on Android you should be able to find a way to “Share” it with PrayerMate. Track down the subject you want to attach it to, then it will be saved against that subject in the app. Now when you reach that item in your prayers, there’ll be a little “PDF” link which you can tap to open up the PDF full screen.

On iOS, the other way you can get PDFs into PrayerMate is via the “Import from Dropbox” feature under the “Advanced Settings” menu. This will list all of the files in your “Apps/PrayerMate” Dropbox folder, including PDFs (as well as .txt files that you want to import as subjects). This should come to Android too soon, I just haven’t had a chance to implement it yet.

Conclusion

Well that’s it for PrayerMate Amnesty Week. I hope you’ve found it helpful. Now it’s over to you to actually get on and use the app. You might find it helpful to set a reminder alarm under the “Advanced Settings” menu to help you make a habit, but ultimately there’s nothing it can do to overcome a sinful heart. Go well, and don’t forget to join the email newsletter if you haven’t already.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week: Day 4

This post is part of PrayerMate Amnesty Week. Yesterday we talked about how to actually get on and pray.

One of the things that can be a barrier to regular, faithful prayer for people is the feeling that our prayers are “stale”, that we’re just praying the same things over and over. One of the points that Don Carson makes in his wonderful book “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” is that this is one of the ways that praying Bible prayers for people can really help. Biblical prayers are often much bigger in scope than the things we sometimes ask God for – so instead of praying that their sick cat will get better, we pray that they might be rooted and established in Christ, and that they may truly grasp what is the height and breadth and depth of the love of God – huge, eternal prayers that there’s always room for growth in.

“Where shall we learn the will of God, the values of God, the character and purposes of God, the promises of God? We shall learn such things in the Scriptures he has graciously given us. But that means that when we pray, when we ask God for things, we must try to tie as many requests as possible to Scripture.”

Of course, it’s also helpful to pray some of those Biblical prayers into the specifics of people’s lives, and so it’s helpful to have some up-to-date prayer requests from people. Today we’re going to focus on three kinds of people that PrayerMate can help us pray for, and tomorrow we’ll focus on one final way it can help with praying for specific prayer requests.

Praying for mission organisations & churches

screenshot_feedsCurrently on iOS only (but very soon on Android too!) PrayerMate allows you to subscribe to regular prayer updates from all sorts of fantastic Christian organisations, including London City Mission, Open Doors, UCCF The Christian Unions & many more. There are also a growing number of local churches who publish their prayer diary through the PrayerMate.net website.

Praying for missionaries

As well as the subscriptions mentioned above, both versions of PrayerMate include a “prayer gallery” where you can do a one-off download of set prayers. OMF UK have very kindly donated a handy range of prayers to help you pray for missionaries. There’s a suggestion for each day of the week as well as some more general prayers. These can be used exactly as they are, or I suggest you customise them with the specific names and details of particular missionaries you’re supporting.

Husbands praying for their wives

Part of the responsibility of being husband is being faithful in prayer for your wife, the one nearest to you. In partnership with 10ofthose.com, you can download some sample prayers from the upcoming book “Water on the Word” by Andrew Case, designed to help husbands pray biblically for their wives.

Todays task: downloading some prayers

prayer_galleryIn the main “settings” menu (accessed by pressing the cog in the top right corner of the app) you’ll find a section titled “Download prayers”. This is where you’ll get access to both the “Subscribe to online feeds” feature (iOS only for now) and the “Prayer gallery”.

Let’s focus on the prayer gallery today. Tap into it to get access to a few sub-menus. Open up the “How to pray for missionaries” section, and scroll to the bottom for the “Pray as Paul Prayed” item. You can preview it first, then if you want to download it, tap the “Download prayer” action at the bottom. This will begin the process of creating a new subject. Assign it to the category that makes most sense (perhaps “World Mission”). If you want, you could tap into the details and replace Paul’s “I” with the name of your missionary friend.

Elsewhere in the Prayer Gallery you’ll also find some Bible prayers. For copyright reasons, these take you to an external website rather than being reproduced within the app, but you can easily copy and paste these into a new subject.

Extra credit: subscribing to feeds

If you’re on iOS, you might also find it helpful to subscribe to one or two feeds. Tap on the “Subscribe to online feeds” page to access the prayer gallery. From here you can browse around various categories. One of the recent additions is the “Devotional” category, where you’ll find content from Scotty Smith’s “Heavenward” blog and Glen Scrivener. If you tap into a feed you’ll get further details, then you can tap the “Subscribe” action at the bottom. You’ll need to assign it to a category, then new content should start showing up automatically as it is published.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week: Day 3

This post is part of PrayerMate Amnesty Week. Yesterday we entered some people we want to pray for regularly.

Throughout PrayerMate Amnesty Week I’ve been referring to the book that first taught me how to pray, “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” by Don Carson. Carson begins the book with some fantastically practical wisdom on the business of getting on and praying. Among other things he says “Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray.”

“What we actually do reflects our highest priorities. That means we can proclaim our commitment to prayer until the cows come home, but unless we actually pray, our actions disown our words.”

Cuts straight to the heart, doesn’t it? I often need this rebuke – after all, there’s no point being the developer of a prayer app if you don’t also get on and use it yourself!

He also says this, which is perhaps a helpful warning against dipping in and out of a prayer session too quickly:

Pray until you pray. That is Puritan advice. It does not simply mean that persistence should mark much of our praying– though admittedly that is a point the Scriptures repeatedly make.. What they meant is that Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying.. “If we ‘pray until we pray,’ eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will.”

Today’s task

OverviewToday’s task is both the easiest and the hardest – the easiest because there’s not much to it, the hardest because it’s where the spiritual battle rages in our heart. Today we’re going to get on and pray.

When you first open up PrayerMate, you should be presented with an “Overview” page, listing the subjects you’ll be praying for today. Swipe this to the left to reveal the first item, then it’s over to you to do the praying. After you’ve prayed for each topic, just carry on swiping to the left to reveal the next item. Each time you swipe past a subject, PrayerMate will mark it as “prayed”, so that next time you ask for a new set of cards it will give you something fresh to pray for instead.

Once you have prayed for your final card, you’ll get a few extra screens – a “blessing”, the feedback page (with links to leave a review of the app, or to send me an email) and the “new session” page. You should be taken to this final page each time you open the app now for the rest of the day. From here you have two choices: go back to the start to pray for the same subjects over again, or tap the praying hands to request a completely new set of cards.

new_session

Extra credit: Editing as you go

For bonus points, you can try adding details to one of your cards as you pray. When you are looking at a card that you want to add some notes on (e.g. specific prayer requests they’ve given you, or notes on answers to these prayers) press and hold on that card to reveal a popup menu. From here you can “Edit details” to add notes, or “Edit subject” to manage the whole subject, e.g. to move it to a different category or to add a photo.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week: Day 2

This post is part of PrayerMate Amnesty Week. Yesterday we looked at using lists to help you pray

We all know that prayer is an important part of the Christian life, but what sorts of things are we actually supposed to pray for? Here are a few pointers that we find in the Bible:

  • Jesus gave his disciples the Lord’s prayer, telling his disciples to pray for God’s name to be honoured, for his will to be done, and for our daily needs of bread and forgiveness
  • One of the few really explicit things Jesus tells us to pray for is found in Matthew 9:38: he calls us to pray for God to raise up people who will take the gospel to the lost
  • In Colossians 4:3, Paul says “pray for us, for God to open a door for the word”. In other words, we’re to pray for the gospel to advance, and for ministers of the gospel to have opportunities to preach
  • Read Don Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation too all of the ways in which Paul himself prays for the various believers he’s writing to – there are loads of these, and they’re all great models for us!
  • In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 Paul says “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” – not just for our leaders and those in authority, but for all people

Creating subjects in PrayerMate

Yesterday I talked you through setting up your categories in PrayerMate. But of course, they’re useless without some specific things to pray for in each of those categories. This can be a fairly time consuming process, but I recommend you start small with just a few items in each category, and you can always add more gradually over time. There are three main ways you can add subjects:

  1. Manually adding subjects: this is the ‘old-school’ way. From the front page of the app, tap the ‘+’ button at the top of the screen (and choose ‘Add new subject’ if you see a popup menu) to access the new subject page. Enter the name of the person or topic you want to pray for, select the category, and if you want, pick a photo to go with it (we’ll cover this in more detail later in the week). When you’re ready, press “Done” in the top right to save your new subject.
  2. Add from listEnter a list of names: this is a new addition to the app, but makes creating large numbers of subjects much quicker. You can access this through the ‘+’ button on the “Overview” page, but for variety lets go a different route. Tap the cog icon to access the “settings” menu, then tap into the category you want to populate. If you’re running the latest app update then there should be a “Enter a list of names” button towards the button of your category’s settings page. If you tap into this, you can then just type in a whole bunch of names, pressing the ‘return’ key in between each one so that they each appear on a separate line. When you press the ‘Done’ button in the top right, PrayerMate will then go away and create a new subject for each of those names, under the selected category.
  3. Create from address book (iOS only): if you’re on iOS, you can also create subjects by browsing through your address book and selected contacts who you want to turn into subjects. This has the added bonus that those subjects will be linked with those contacts so that you can text them as you pray, and it will also pull in any photos associated with those contacts automatically. The option to create contacts from your address book will be next to the ‘enter a list of names’ option.

Today’s task

Pick a couple of your most important categories, and try to come up with seven subjects in each of those categories. As a suggestion: enter the names of seven people from your church, and seven friends or family members.

If you don’t need some of the default subjects that get created automatically for you, you can always delete them. On iOS you can swipe that subject’s row to the left when looking at the settings menu for the category that it belongs to, or on Android you can use the “Delete subject” button in the top right when managing that subject.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week: Day 1

Many people find it helpful to have a bit of structure in their prayer life, as a way to help ensure they’re praying over a wide range of topics and people, and maintaining a helpful balance in what they give their attention to. One very popular prayer scheme is ACTS:

  • Adoration: the ACTS scheme begins by focussing the mind on God with a time of ‘adoration’ or worship. Praising God for who he is and what he has done for us in Christ.
  • Confession: next it is right that we spend a bit of time acknowledging the ways in which we’ve failed to live with Jesus as Lord in our life, and asking for God’s forgiveness.
  • Thanksgiving: there is much to be thankful for in the Christian life – not least of all the forgiveness which our confession makes us mindful of. There’s also something very healthy about making it a regular part of our prayer times to bring to mind all of the other little ways in which God has answered our prayers and blessed us abundantly.
  • Supplication: only after we have worked through our prayers of adoration, confession and thanksgiving to we finally turn to ‘supplication’ – bringing our requests before God. Putting this at the end can help guard against the ‘shopping list’ mentality of just coming to God with our list of wants and expecting him to grant them like some kind of genie in a bottle.

Another very popular prayer scheme along the same lines is STOP: Sorry, Thank you, Others, Please, which similarly puts God first and ourselves and our requests last. Even the Lord’s Prayer itself can be used as a very helpful structure for guiding our prayers.

Of course, within some of those overarching headings you can further break it down. Ever since reading Don Carson’s “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” as a student, I’ve always used lists to help me with my intercessory prayer – the “Supplication” or “Others” bits of those schemes I’ve mentioned. Don Carson writes this:

It is difficult to pray faithfully for a large spread of people and concerns without developing prayer lists that help you remember them.

I’ve tended to find it helpful to have a few categories which help me pray for a spread of issues:

  • Close friends and family – these are the people I want to be praying for every day, the people who are part and parcel of who I am as an individual
  • My church and small group – part of being part of the body of Christ is praying regularly for those in my local church, and especially within my small group, for whom I have an extra responsibility of care.
  • My evangelism – we know that it is the Lord’s work to open the blind eyes of those who don’t yet know him, and so I am called to pray regularly for opportunities to share my faith, and for the particular people that I rub shoulders with regularly that God might have mercy on them. If I don’t make a point of praying regularly for this, then I should hardly find it surprising if I don’t see God at work!
  • Wider society – the Bible calls us to pray regularly for our politicians and those in authority over us, as well as for the lost in our world.

PrayerMate is a mobile app designed to give a helping hand, particularly in this area of intercessory prayer. Categories like the ones above are at the core of its design, so that each time you fire it up it gives you a selection of items from across all of your categories. For instance, for me this morning it suggested a devotional prayer (perhaps part of the “Adoration” section of the ACTS scheme), a prayer for my wife, for my oldest son, a couple from my small group, a Christian software developer who I meet up with from time to time, an aspect of the life of my church and today’s prayer point from the UCCF Christian Unions prayer diary. That’s seven items from seven different categories – just about at the limits of what my little brain is able to cope with!

Today’s task

default_categories_screenshotIf you’re somebody who would find this kind of structure helpful to you in your prayers, then you might find the PrayerMate app helpful. It comes preinstalled with some suggested categories, and of course you could leave them as they are and you’d get on just fine. But I strongly suggest that you tweak them so that they make sense for you and your particular context. Step one, then, is to decide what categories you want to use.

Some general guidelines

If there are particular people or causes that you want to be praying for every day, PrayerMate tends to work best if you give each of these topics their own category, just for them. That way, you can make sure that category appears every day, and you also have the flexibility of creating more than one subject in each category to help you pray for a spread of concerns for each person. For example, you could have a “My job” category, with subjects for “Evangelism”, “The people I manage”, “Working as to the Lord”, etc. – and you’d be prompted to pray for a different one of those each day. The flip side of this is that if you have too many categories, you’ll probably find yourself being overwhelmed with things to pray for each day. After about seven or eight prayer points my mind starts to feel a bit swamped, so although I have categories for my wife and my son, after that I then just use fairly broad categories for all of the other friends I want to be praying regularly for.

How to manage your categories

To manage your categories, press the cog icon in the top right hand corner of the app to access the “Settings” menu, where you’ll see all of the default categories. You can add new ones easily enough (you might also want to use the “Change category order” screen to drag your new categories higher up in the order). You could also rename existing default categories to reappropriate them – to do this just tap into that category and then edit using the ‘name’ field. To delete a category: on iOS you can swipe its row to the left in the settings menu, or on Android you can hit the “Delete category” button in the top right of the category’s page.

Each category has two main settings: the number of items per session, and whether it’s “pinned”. The items per session slider lets you ask for more or fewer items from that category. For example, you might just want one prayer point from your small group, but then two or three from your other “friends” category. The “pinned” setting only appears if you turn on the ‘global item limit’ (see below) – it tells PrayerMate to prioritise this category so that it will attempt to always give you at least one subject from this category. Used sparingly, this is handy for those really important people in your life.

Extra credit: global item limit

By default, PrayerMate will always show you every category in your database, and fill up the ‘items per session’ for each category. Often, however, you’ll find that this gives you just a little too much to pray for each day. Under the “Advanced settings” menu, therefore, you can turn on the “Apply global item limit” setting. This is applied on top of your per-category limits, and lets you specify the total number of items you want to pray for in any given session. PrayerMate does the hard work of keeping track of who you’ve prayed for and who hasn’t appeared in a while, and as long as you haven’t gone overboard on “pinning” too many categories, it will then make sure to rotate through your prayer points over time to make sure that eventually you get through everybody in your database.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week

Why do Christians bother to pray?

It’s a good question to be asking at the start of Lent, a time traditionally set aside for contemplation and prayer. For many of us, prayer is something we know that we ought to be doing as Christians, but it can be surprisingly difficult to motivate ourselves to get on and do it. So why should we bother?

At the heart of the Bible’s answer to that question is the fundamental relationship that we enjoy with God. For the Christian is someone who has been adopted – by rights we are far from God and deserve absolutely nothing from him, but by his lavish grace, through Jesus, not because of anything we’ve done, we can be called God’s own children. What a remarkable truth that is – if only we would really grasp it!

As God’s children, it’s only natural that we should want to talk to our heavenly father. Prayer, then, is an expression of our complete dependence on him, our helplessness to do things by our own strength. No wonder, then, that straight after giving his disciples that most famous of prayers, the “Lord’s Prayer”, Jesus turns to this relationship we enjoy with God to motivate them to pray:

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

If you then, who are evil, will give your children good things when they ask for them, how much more will our gracious God! Of course God will be gracious to us if we ask him – it’s in his very nature. He’s hardly going to be less generous than a human father is towards his children!

That’s the motivation that Jesus gives for his exhortation to pray:

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Ask, because you know that God wants to give it to you. It’s not saying that absolutely everything I ask for will be given immediately in exactly the way I was hoping for – this isn’t a promise for the gift of a new laptop just because I fancy one. The specific example that Jesus gives here is “the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” – so this is in the context of God-centred prayer that is described to us in the Lord’s Prayer itself, praying for his kingdom to come and his will to be done. But we shouldn’t let that diminish the force of this promise – God will answer our prayers, if only we’ll get on and pray!

A little extra help

Even given this wonderful encouragement to pray, there are still many distractions and temptations in the world. Personally, I find I need all the help I can get, so that’s why I built the PrayerMate mobile app, now on iOS and Android. This Lent, I am going to be running a series of blog posts under the title of PrayerMate Amnesty Week. I know that getting going with PrayerMate takes a bit of an investment of time, and I’m hearing from a lot of people that they have downloaded the app and are full of good intentions, but just haven’t quite got around to setting it up yet. PrayerMate Amnesty Week is an opportunity to put that right. Starting from Monday 10th March, I’ll be posting a new blog post each day, with a bit of encouragement to pray, along with some practical tips on getting going with the app. At the end of each post I’ll give you some homework to go away and do by yourself with the app.

PrayerMate Amnesty Week Posts: