As we start 2016, the Prayer Journal app starts behind schedule, but with renewed interest and desire.
The beta testing that started back in June did not go as planned. Feedback was minimal and with the profile piece not completed, those that had forgotten passwords were unable to access the application again without a lot of database wrangling on my end. My own time to dedicate to this had been absorbed by other things, so things remained dormant.
During this time, a friend had recommended that I really clarify my vision and goals for this application. Did I want to keep it a low key “hobby project” or did I want it to really get big. While I tend to brush these kind of questions off with a non-committal “I’ll put it out there and we’ll see what happens”, I realized that doing this reflected my own lack of interest, regardless of how big or small I wanted things to get.
So I went back to reading why I started Prayer Journal in the first place. All of these things still ring true. Being able to see how God has been working in my life (and of others) is a much needed thing. We tend to acknowledge that God works in our life in an abstract sense, but when we can name the specifics and track the daily interactions, a whole new dimension and gravity of God’s impact emerges.
After sharing the initial Prayer Journal app with some friends and getting feedback, the spark of community really started to take shape and become more clear. Last year I participated in a bible study with a group of men that I don’t see regularly since it was part of a different church than the one I attend. These are some great men, and we shared prayer request, but outside of those two hours, I never saw most of them. While I can e-mail and text some of them to let them know I’m praying for them, having something like Prayer Journal that I could give them that daily “nudge” to let them know they are thought of and prayed for can be powerful!
While these communities can be small, they can also be larger. What about an entire church? As the church continues to integrate newer technology into their mission, providing a way for the body of Christ at a given church to easily share and be encouraged by prayer would be a natural next step.
What about the world? While I don’t see a “world community” so to speak, I do see the impact of a person, struggling with an issue, to be encouraged that somebody on the other side of the world has just prayed for them.
All of this then circles back onto itself. It’s sort of a microcosm / macrocosm phenomenon. A person can see, through their journal, how God is working both in their personal lives, their local communities, and the world at large.
The vision has gotten larger than it originally was. I suspect that it was there all along, I just hadn’t taken the time to really sit and think (and pray) about it until prompted to do so again.
With that in mind, and renewed excitement, I’m starting with the following goals for this year:
Finish Functionality – This is obvious, but a reminder that there are still some features that need to be completed, especially if I want users to be able to access their accounts again. One big addition will be expanding a users profile to include their city/country. This will be optional, but will be important for building that “global community” for prayer requests that are shared publicly.
Change Layout – I’ve been really happy with Zurb Foundation for Applications, but some of the Angular Structure for the application I think needs work. It is all bundled together in a single item instead of the “feature based” approach that is becoming more widely used. I also would like a little better layout capabilities since I’m no UI/UX guy. Google recently released their Angular Material library at 1.0 status, which provides a strong AngularJS framework with the responsive UI elements that look really sharp. There will be a strong “Google+” look to things initially, but those components are familiar and can help with some much needed navigation issues the current app has.
Build Mobile Apps – The need for mobile native apps has become more apparent as I use my own app. Some of the basic interactions (and especially notifications) work best when they can arrive quickly, and not through an e-mail that you will have to open to view. E-mail notifications will remain (that helps the non-mobile user), but building native apps will help the user experience even more. Fortunately, with Xamarin in place and a default option with Visual Studio 2015, the basic tools to get these apps off the ground and running should be a lot easier, especially with the WebAPI already in place.
Get a Domain Name / Brand – The .com for prayer journal I don’t think will be available anytime soon. Plus with the vision expanding, I’m thinking of a new name to help go with this. Getting proper hosting up (beyond the freebie options) will help ensure things moving forward. I’ll admit this is still a foggy area for me, one that needs more prayer. Maybe a kickstarter is in order for this.
There’s the vision and the goals. I hope you’ll join me in 2016 as I work to make these a reality!