Pray as you go: Instapray app takes spirituality online

Finding time to pray in a digital age can be tricky, but an app released earlier this year hopes to make it easy. Instapray encourages users to share and request their prayers with an online community, and now has users from 195 countries.

It looks similar to Twitter, with a live feed of prayers posted by other people, and the option to press 'pray', 'repray' or 'comment'. Users can add hashtags, or pictures, and make a note when a prayer has been answered. There is also the option to join groups, some of which focus on issues such as the crisis in the Middle East, droughts in the US or natural disasters across the world.

It's proven a popular concept – more than 41 million prayers have been sent on the app; an estimated total of 192 years spent praying. Founder Fryderyk Ovcaric said he wanted to create a "safe, supportive online community free of the overwhelming negativity present across much of the web."

"As online bullying has increased in recent years, with the rise of anonymous sharing apps amplifying this destructive and hateful behaviour, I believe the world can benefit from Instapray now more than ever," he added.

Ovcaric noted that users "don't have to be afraid to express their faith or spirituality".

"I wanted to create a shared space where people could join together in prayer, encouragement, and support for one another and the world around them. I dreamt of a community where everyone is welcome and accepted, free to explore their faith and spirituality without fear of retribution."

Members are able to be vulnerable, and share their personal struggles with others in instant, either publicly or in a private message. "And if they choose to request prayer, a caring global community will reach out and respond with love and compassion," Ovcaric said.

Mixing technology and faith is a subject that has caused some division. Last week the Church of England recommended that churches live-stream services online for those unable to attend in person. A report to be considered by the Methodist Conference later this month, however, recommends that ministers are banned from holding communion services over social media for fear of losing the integrity of the sacrement.