Jesuit Prayer: Reaching People Where They Are
Jesuit Prayer

Available on the web at jesuitprayer.org, as a free iPhone/Android app, or via email, Jesuit Prayer offers a daily dose of Scripture, Ignatian spirituality, and Ignatian prayer
By Jeremy Langford

We launched Jesuit Prayer on July 1, 2012, in response to a call from our audiences for a daily dose of Scripture, Ignatian spirituality, and Ignatian prayer. Our focus has always been to share free quality content by Jesuits and lay colleagues that reaches people where they are spiritually. 
But that is not enough. We must reach people where they are — literally — by using their preferred channels of communication. 

Building our website and daily email were fairly straightforward, but the mobile app proved challenging. As we wondered if the app was worth it, one of our Jesuit collaborators, Fr. Ted Munz, SJ, shared a revelation he had while riding a bus through Chicago one morning: “As I looked around, most of the passengers were glued to their phones. For a moment, I imagined how powerful it would be if at least some of them, particularly young adults, were starting their day with our Jesuit Prayer app.”

After launching all three platforms, we placed friendly bets as to which would perform best. Monitoring the dashboards we use to track audience activity, team members would call out, “More visitors to our website — this time from Milwaukee, New York, Missouri, California, Australia!” “Our mobile app is blowing up!” “Daily email subscriptions are growing by the hundreds.”
 
At the end of our first month, we celebrated St. Ignatius’s Feast Day (July 31) with a sense that the Jesuits’ founder would have marveled at the power of digital communications to share the Gospel so far and so fast.

Nearly five years later, Jesuit Prayer has grown into a global community.

We have shared spiritual reflections from more than 300 Jesuits and lay collaborators. We have tens of thousands of monthly website visitors; 10,112 daily email subscribers; and 63,978 app downloads. Our app has received 2,683 5-star reviews. To my delight, I lost the office bet: app downloads have outpaced email subscriptions and web visits.

In addition to our daily content, we offer downloadable prayer cards, the Vatican's monthly "Pope Video," and a myriad of links to Jesuit works and spiritual resources. Many people love the app's reminders for the daily inspiration and daily Examen. We also have branched out to social media, with daily images and excerpts from each day's reflection becoming some of our most popular content.
 
Join the Jesuit Prayer community! 

•  Check us out online at www.jesuitprayer.org, where you may also subscribe to our daily email, download prayer cards, submit prayer requests, and find links to related Jesuit resources

  Download our Jesuit Prayer app in iTunes and Google Play stores

•  Enjoy daily prayer posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram by searching Midwest Jesuits

Through your generosity, we are able to offer Jesuit Prayer free of charge to all. If you wish to make a donation,
please visit
jesuitsmidwest.org/JesuitPrayerGift

But what would Jesuit Prayer be without real, tried-and-true prayer?  

One of our core features allows people to submit a prayer request and/or share a prayer request with a friend or loved one. All requests receive a response from a member of our team within 24 hours. Every Friday, we send a summary of the week’s prayer intentions to Jesuits who live in our two senior Jesuit healthcare communities. And every week these wonderful Jesuits pray over the intentions and celebrate Mass for the senders and recipients.  

To date, we have responded to and prayed for 20,198 prayer requests. As I write, we are receiving messages of thanksgiving; expressions of doubt; petitions for people suffering from depression, loss, or addiction; and parents praying for their kids.  

When the workload overwhelms us or the technology stumbles, notes like the one below remind us that this mission matters:
I am most grateful for your kind and prompt response to my prayer request. I appreciate your encouragement and suggestions. ... I want to tell you that it gave me an enormous lift when I read this personal message on Sunday. It was just so affirming and Spirit-filled! This is an absolutely amazing service that you offer to people, and I thank you deeply and sincerely.
To expand our reach, Jesuit Prayer is collaborating with other Jesuit provinces to share cost, content, and outreach. And because many people connect with the Jesuits through our schools, parishes, retreat centers, and ministries, Jesuit Prayer has grown into something of a franchise by offering these institutions the opportunity to serve their audiences directly with their own branded versions of the prayer site, app, and email. Our partner ministries are free to share our daily content or post their own, respond directly to prayer requests, and manage their own subscriber databases. 

Partner organizations include Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill.; Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland; Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston; Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago; Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha; St. Louis University High School; and Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, Ill.

Today, we ask ourselves, What would Ignatius have us do next? For starters, he would encourage us to keep Jesuit Prayer free to all. And we have a hunch he would encourage us to find new ways to reach people where they are!  


Jeremy Langford is director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and the founding editor of Jesuit Prayer.
Click here for the Spring 2017 Jesuits magazine index.



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Located 80 miles north of Milwaukee, the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago welcomes men and women of all faiths to its silent preached and directed retreats.