There is something about the New Year that makes us want to grow into better versions of ourselves — to change and improve and get a fresh start. On top of resolutions to eat better or start that exercise regimen, many people are turning to mindfulness practices.
Being mindful is a way to be intentional about what we’re eating, saying, doing. It involves focusing on the present and seeing it as more than just a passing moment. In our hyper-connected, noisy, busy culture, more and more people are recognizing the need to slow down, to take a step out of the craziness of our day and reflect on where we’re headed — and where we want to be headed.
Including God in the conversation can take that practice to a new level. It can be easy to get discouraged when it comes to growing in our relationship with God, though. We can spend hours in prayer talking to God and still feel like God is not listening. And it’s important that we spend time listening, as well. Sometimes, saying an Our Father as we lay in bed at night before we fall asleep (or more often, as we fall asleep) isn’t giving us the fulfillment we need.
Alex Jones has been there. When he reached the end of his college career, he recognized his prayer life wasn’t where he wanted it to be. In addition to that, as he entered the job world, he knew he needed something to keep him grounded and centered.
As a result, he turned to meditation, or more specifically, a meditation app. He also tried to start a habit of praying every day. While committing to both of these was helpful, something was still missing in each.
“The prayer always felt like I was talking to myself,” he admits, “And on the meditation side, it always felt like it was starting to put me in the place to get to some type of spiritual experience, but I was never able to really connect it with my Catholic faith.”
While he was working on making each a habit, he was not getting the most out of either practice. He had the actions down, but he wasn’t satisfied with the way they were affecting his life.
He said he wished he had a way to “press play on your phone, you put your headphones in, close your eyes, and spend 10–15 minutes with God.”
So he built an app.
In December, 2018, Hallow formally launched — it’s an app (available in the Apple Store and Google Play Store) that offers step-by-step directions for practicing a variety of different prayer styles. It is intended to serve as a resource both for those just getting started in contemplative prayer and those with more experience in meditation.
“The primary goal of the app is just to help people grow in their relationship with God,” Alex shares. “Letting Him hallow our lives — letting him come into our lives and take over and make us holy with him — is the goal.”
One of the beautiful things about Hallow is that it doesn’t try to tell you what your relationship with God should be, or even how you should view God, explained Erich Kerekes, co-founder of Hallow and head of sales and marketing. Hallow simply “puts you in the same room as Him so that He can show you who He is,” he said.
Furthermore, the app was made to be accessible to all people looking to deepen their prayer lives. “Regardless of how you were raised, regardless of which denomination you are, or even if you’re just exploring your relationship with God for the first time and figuring out what faith means to you, the hope is that within Hallow, you will be able to find a type of prayer that resonates with you,” said Erich.
Through incorporating a practice like prayerful meditation into a morning routine, we take the steps to not only make prayer a daily habit, but we also create room for God to speak to us. When we start our morning with meaningful prayer, we establish the tone for the day.
“It sets you up to engage in a conversation throughout your day with God,” Alex said. “The real beauty, the real transformative power, is spending each morning in prayer.”
“The hope is that through deepening your relationship with God, you can also learn to live in His peace and joy,” continues Erich.
It is only through spending that vital time in conversation with God that our relationship with Him grows. It is in talking to God — and actively listening — that we are able to deepen our connection with the One who made us. And because that’s a transformative relationship, the new year is not a bad time to begin or deepen a prayer practice.