Can a technique that improves businesses and schools help your prayer life?
Posted in , May 23, 2017
“Gamification” is a word coined in 2002 by a computer programmer to refer to the practice of using a game to accomplish goals beyond the game itself. “Gamification” has been used to increase productivity in a company, recruit new employees, help students learn, encourage physical exercise and more. It can also help you pray.
Prayer is serious business, of course, but just as gamification helps businesses, schools, and individuals accomplish more, it can also help people and families pray more.
For example, my friend Kylee writes her prayer concerns on pieces of paper that she then crumples into a wads and tosses into a jar. Each day she draws a wad or two of paper from the jar, un-crumples it and makes that her prayer for that day. She says this “game” not only helped her to focus but also had her looking forward to prayer every day, to see what concern or request she would pull from the jar.
Larry and his wife play a prayer “game” with their 15-month-old granddaughter. “At mealtimes,” he says, “we cover our eyes with our hands and say grace, and she imitates us. We make a little show of saying ‘amen,’ and uncovering our eyes.” Even more delightful is the fact that she confuses “amen” with two of the few words she has learned to say: “All done.”
Beth and her family write the names of people for whom they want to pray on popsicle sticks. They put the sticks in a cup and, before giving thanks for their meal, they each pick a stick from the cup and pray for the person whose name they drew. Each stick is then placed in a second cup until the first cup is empty, when the process is repeated.
Gloria, who is often given business cards in the course of her work week, places each one in her Bible or whatever book she is reading at the time as a bookmark. Thereafter, every time she opens the book to read, she prays for the person who gave her that business card.
Kayli played a finger game with her daughter for bedtime prayers. She would have her daughter hold up five fingers and list five things to pray for that night. Then mother and daughter would alternate prayer for each “finger prayer.” “As she's gotten older,” Kayli says, “she has taken on more ‘fingers,’ and sometimes she says she prays in bed out loud after I leave because she realizes she has more to pray about.”
Deb has often played a variation of the “alphabet game” on car trips. In addition to finding each letter of the alphabet in succession, the person who found the letter gets to pray for someone or something that begins with that letter. On familiar trips—to a favorite vacation spot, for instance—certain landmarks have come to prompt specific prayers.
Turning elements of prayer into a game is, of course, not the only way to pray. But it can especially help children learn to incorporate prayer into their daily lives, which may transfer into other areas of life. And even for adults, “gamified prayer” may sometimes turn into a helpful habit that encourages more prayer.