Where’s my call to prayer speaker?

September 30, 2008 | 22 comments

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t pray all three hours of the Liturgy of the Hours as often as I’d like these days. It’s not usually because of outright laziness, but more often because I just get immersed in the concerns of daily life and completely forget. Reading that old email from my dad’s days in Abu Dhabi reminded me:

How cool would it be to have a call to prayer speaker outside my window?

Granted, I’d like to have one slightly less loud than the one on my dad’s porch — we couldn’t even have phone conversations while it was going. But it would be great to have the opening hymn for Vespers just start up at 5:30, snapping me out of my daze as I read blogs get the kitchen ready for dinner.

So I’ve been Googling around to see if there’s anything like this out there. Maybe not a loudspeaker, but some sort of watch or special alarm clock. (I know, there are special timers where you can set multiple alarms. I have one. Let’s put it this way: it is probably easier to operate the Large Hadron Collider than this thing, not to mention that the alarm is terribly grating.) Anyway, after a lot of searching, the main thing I’ve come up with is this: I am really jealous of Muslims.

Check out all this cool stuff they have in terms of prayer time reminders…

There’s a Muslim version of the Linux operating system Ubuntu that includes prayer time reminders. They have software for your phone that automatically gives you a reminder each time prayer time rolls around; prayer software for your computer that includes a ton of features like being able to send prayer time reminders to friends and the option to have a different voice do the prayers at different times; other free software that not only calculates prayer times but helps you figure out how to face Mecca no matter where you are in the world; and just CHECK OUT all these multi-featured prayer time watches. And Muslim prayer times change depending on sunrise and sunset times, so all this is completely customized!

I’m jealous.

I can’t seem to find a single alarm clock, watch or software application that’s customizable for regular Christian prayer times. Anyone have any ideas?

photo by papalars


  1. elfortunawe

    If you already use Ubuntu, you should be able to set the times for prayer using Evolution’s calendar. When setting an appointment, just click on the “recurrence” button and make the necessary adjustments. You can also set it to play whatever sound you think appropriate.

  2. Bekah

    I scored a free palmpilot when my husband’s work upgraded. I have reminders set for Noon, 3pm and 6pm for prayer (I already wake up at 6am, so don’t need another alarm for that hour). I have also customized my own Catholic prayer book using their eReader application so any prayers I want are accessible. I also downloaded Universalis through avantgo so that I have a weeks worth of LotH and Mass readings.

  3. Will Duquette

    Hmmm. My Palm PDA has the ability to let me define “appointments”, which it will alert me to; and they can be defined to occur every day, every week, etc., etc. You could certainly set it up to remind you several times a day. The alarm might be grating, but it’s easy to do.

    I’m sure that there is similar appointment book software available for any given computer system, probably free (or at least much less expensive than a PDA). And it might even let you customize the alarm sounds…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    A recurring timer on a watch works!

  5. Amy

    I have an ironman digital watch that has 3 alarm times. It’s not too hard to set. Great thing is, it comes with me (I hardly ever take it off) so even if I’m in the car or something, it reminds me. And when I ignore it the first time, it rings 5 minutes later. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Search “Timex Women’s Ironman Sleek 50 Lap Watch #T5E511” at Amazon and that’s the one (I couldn’t make a nice small link)

  6. Melanie B

    Good question. I’ve actually been wondering something similar myself.

    I set up my computer with a bell that rings every hour, I remembered how much I liked the bell tower on my college campus that rang not only every hour but also had chimes for the quarter hours. I was hoping that having something similar at home would help me be aware of the passing of time and would clue me in at prayer times; but it was too easy to get used to it and tune it out. And I kept muting my computer and forgetting to unmute.

    I don’t wear a watch or carry a PDA and don’t really want to start. My cell phone only has one alarm, so I’d have to reset it three times a day.

    I hope maybe one of your readers will have an idea that works for me.

  7. Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years

    What about asking the Holy Spirit that indwells you to prompt you at certain times? It’s not beyond Him, after all. ๐Ÿ™‚ Let Him be glorified!

  8. Teri

    “Regular Christian Prayer Times” strikes me as funny as I recall the scripture – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.” so I’m picturing a VERY annoying device strapped to my wrist that perpetually buzzes. Just always. Wouldn’t THAT be something?

    Probably not what you had in mind…

    Probably make Muslims think we were insane…

  9. Anonymous

    If you are using a Mac, iCal will let you set an recurring events with alarms. Just set one for each time and set it to recur daily.

  10. The Koala Bear Writer

    Hmmm… interesting points! I guess we could learn a thing or two from Muslims about prayer. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I really feel like I should make time for daily Mass tomorrow…

  11. Fe

    I don’t know what OS you use… but I’ve found iCal/iTunes to be a good combination (there’s a post explaining what I did at Genial Hearth).

  12. Rebekka

    Do you have a mobile phone? Most mobiles I know of have 5 or so alarm clock times that you can name and save, and you can also choose which ringing tone you want it to use. You could probably even download a church bell or some other appropriate sound, or if you’re really hard core make your own ringtone.

  13. planty

    If you’ve got a smartphone (for windows mobile) then there is an application called Chronos that lets you have multiple customisable alarms.

    These can even fire up applications (could even be some prayer notes stored on the phone or a website)

  14. Sara

    Since I’m not a Poor Clare yet, I don’t have bells going off at regular intervals to call me into the chapel. I currently work for the Red Cross to my schedule is always changing and very hectic. Instead of praying at specific times, my prayers coincide with other events in my day. For instance, I pray evening prayer before dinner – sometimes that’s at 5:30, sometimes it’s at 10:00!

  15. Multiple Mom T

    Why not just use one of Muslim thingys?

  16. Jen S

    This is a great idea. I may have to set alarms on my iphone. thanks for the thought!

  17. Matt

    I think that the tricky part isn’t in scheduling a recurring reminder, but in finding a suitable form for that reminder to take. When I did this on my Mac, I took a sound recording of a single, clear church bell and looped it a couple of times to create a longer, punctuated pealing effect. When I first set things up, I went all geeky and scheduled a cron job to play my personal call to prayer at the appropriate hours; these days, I’d probably just schedule an event (or multiple events) in iCal.

    The other trick is to play it through speakers loud enough to be heard throughout your house. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Stephanie

    It’s really a shame we don’t all live in small villages where we could hear the church bells ringing, isn’t it? After all, that was the Christian equivalent of the Muslim loudspeakers!

    By the way, I’ve had this exact same question in my mind, about how to remind myself to pray with some kind of alarm. I’m liking the phone idea with a bell sounding alarm, I have my phone on my all day so it could actually work for me!

  19. Tausign

    I’ve been away of late and am just catching up with your posts. They’re always insightful.

    Actually it’s a good sign when you are aware of your laxity in prayer. It reveals a simmering hunger for the Spirit that is lurking below the surface. Usually it means that the old priorities are tying to sneak back in. It’s nothing less than a mild spiritual battle, so stay alert. As long as you are aware of missing prayer, you’re OK. If you totally forget or blow it off, you’re in trouble. There’s only one solution I’m aware of: try taking on a small dose of penance to try to break up the backsliding. If you agree you might hit the label ‘penance’ on my blog for some ideas.

    Here’s another post for your encouragement Confessions of a Liturgical Pray-er.

    Peace and all good.

  20. Tausign

    Pardon my sloppy links in my above comment. Here’s the link for penance as antidote to falling away from prayer. Also,here’s the corrected link for Confessions of a Liturgical Pray-er.

    I’m not sure that alarm clocks are the answer but some small understanding and program of penance might be the key.

  21. epsilon

    Hi – I found you indirectly on a long windy path via http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/
    which sounds something like what you are looking for – it’s beautiful – I’ve listened to all the 10 minute slots for this coming week and feel inspired to try and share them at school even if it means I get scoffed at or rejected…

    Your story is also beautiful – I might try and introduce myself at a later time – in the meantime – Slan agus Beannacht

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