Apparently the desire to track and record personal health data is sweeping the world by storm. In the November 2014 issue of Time Magazine, contributor Bryan Walsh examined this “Quantified Self Movement.”
“More and more of us are engaging in some form of digital self-examination,” Walsh reports. “Research firm ABI estimates that 42 million wearable fitness and health devices will be shipped in 2014.”
And what, you may ask, do these little fitness watches tell us about ourselves?
“On my wrist I wear a Jawbone UP24,” Walsh explains, “a rubber bracelet that tracks my steps and calories burned over the course of the day. To make sure I don’t exceed the calories burned with calories consumed, I track my diet with the iPhone app MyFitnessPal, which syncs up with my Jawbone data. The Jawbone bracelet uses a motion sensor to track my sleep time, and the Jawbone app uses algorithms to calculate the hours I spend in light sleep and deep sleep over the course of the night.”
In other words, we’ve become obsessed with personal health and know more about our physical condition than ever before.
But as I read this, I couldn’t help but wonder… what steps are we taking to monitor our spiritual health?
Tracking Your Spiritual Health… a Biblical Notion
Taking stock of one’s spiritual health is certainly not a new concept. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15, “Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise.”
The Psalmist prayed that God would help reveal his spiritual condition in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
In Joshua 1:8, God’s people are advised to continually study the Word of God, holding it up as the standard by which to measure their lives: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”
Finally, James taught the Early Church that it is not enough to simply read God’s Word, but that we also need to be sure that we are daily practicing God’s Word. James 1:22-25 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in all he does.”
Of course, measuring ourselves against the standard of God’s Word and praying for the Spirit to convict us of areas we need to work on will always be the most effective ways to track our spiritual health. But if we can use our mobile devices to monitor how many calories we burned each hour and which foods helped us sleep more soundly, why not use them to help track our spiritual health as well.
5 Apps for Tracking and Promoting Spiritual Health
Below are five apps which I’ve found to be helpful for monitoring my spiritual health and promoting growth in this area:
This app makes hiding God’s Word in your heart both fun and easy to manage. Quickly scroll through your “Target Verses” for each day, and review these with flash cards or a variety of memory games. The app will tell you which verses need the most work, and which ones you’ve mastered.
This Bible app contains a variety of built-in Bible reading plans, so you can select one that piques your interest. Once you get started, the app will monitor your progress and tell you how many days behind you are. It can also e-mail your daily Scripture reading to your inbox, and will send you warnings if you fall behind and notes of encouragement if you’re doing well.
This Christian Ebooks app makes it easier than ever to purchase, store, and read Christian books. The app offers daily deals and discounts on Christian titles, and once you sign up for an account you’ll also receive “freebies” in your e-mail inbox. And really… who doesn’t love free books?
To be honest, this app is only worth downloading if you plan on purchasing the Logos Bible Software for your computer. This software isn’t cheap, but once you have it you gain access to daily news updates and devotionals, discounts and freebies, and millions of Christian scholarly resources. Since I was required to purchase Logos for seminary studies, I’ve found this app to be nothing short of amazing. No matter where I am, I can use this app to pull up information from hundreds of commentaries, Hebrew and Greek resources, and Christian Living titles.
If you love Christian radio, then you’ll like this free app. HisRadio plays the latest hits in Contemporary Christian music, Worship, and Christian Pop. If you enjoy bands such as Selah and David Crowder and want to keep up with their latest offerings, then this app is for you.
What About You? What Apps or Tools Have You Found to Encourage Spiritual Growth?
 Walsh, Bryan. “Data Mine: The Next Revolution in Personal Health May Be the Little Step-Tracking Band On Your Wrist.” Time Magazine, (November 24, 2014), p. 34-38.