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Americans tend to be self-focused in their prayer life, asking God for personal desires more often than people in crisis or the unsaved, according to a recent survey from Nashville, Tennessee-based LifeWay Research.

"Most people pray when they need the red phone for help," says Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. "But their prayer life isn't a habit rooted in a relationship with God."

John Maempa, director of the AG Office of Prayer and Spiritual Care, says, "While for many people praying tends to be a pragmatic means to an end, according to Scripture we are invited to ask for things we need and perhaps even want (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:33; 7:7; etc.). However, the key to effective prayer is relationship — drawing close to God so He can draw close to us."

In the online survey, Americans spend the most time focusing on friends and family (82 percent of all respondents) as well as their own problems (74 percent). Just over half (54 percent) pray for good things to happen in their life, while more than one third (36 percent) ask God to bless them with future prosperity.

"James Nicodem, in his book 'Prayer Coach,' states that Jesus readily responds to our prayers when we 'start to value our relationship more than our requests; until we want more of Him than we want from Him.'" Maempa observes. "When we're in proper alignment with God's relationally, we are more inclined to pray His will than focus on things we want."

But not all prayers are self-centered. Americans say they also spend time petitioning God about their own sin (42 percent), those in natural disasters (38 percent), people of other religions or no faith (20 percent), and government leaders (12 percent).

And as Jesus' taught, 41 percent say they have prayed for those who mistreat them while 37 percent acknowledge praying for enemies.

On the other hand, 21 percent admit to asking God to win a lottery, 13 percent have sought the Almighty's help for their favorite team to win a game, and 7 percent have wanted God's favor in finding a good parking space.

About half of Americans (48 percent) say they pray at least every day, while a third (31 percent) say they pray repeatedly during the day.

Authors: Pentecostal Evangel and AG News


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Jacob's Hope: The Assemblies of God launches global outreach to Jews

Fri, 07 Jan 2011 - 4:24 PM CST

Jeff Friedman grew up in a Jewish family, attended an Orthodox Jewish synagogue every week, and lived in the city with the world's largest Jewish population: Brooklyn, New York. The brief encounters he had with Christians left him with a negative impression of the faith during his first 26 years of life.

"Christians offended me; they turned me off," Friedman says. "I basically hated Christians."

One day in 1980, after Friedman moved to Miami as part of his job as a government pharmacist, he went to get a haircut. Mitzi, the hairstylist at the salon, was a Jewish woman - who attended an Assemblies of God church.

"She challenged me as a Jew to study the Jewish Scriptures as they pertain to the Messiah," Friedman recalls. "She spoke to me in a way that made sense."

A week later, after accepting an invitation to a Christmas party at the church, Friedman came to faith in Y'shua (the Hebrew name for Jesus). He immediately sensed a calling, realizing that the overwhelming majority of Jews never hear a culturally relevant presentation of the gospel.

"I have a desire to see fellow Jews come to know this blessing I know," says the enthusiastic and energetic Friedman.

Friedman became a licensed AG minister, graduated from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and for 17 years served as an AG U.S. missionary while the rabbi of Beth Emanuel, a Messianic synagogue in Philadelphia. When on a ministry outreach team in Eastern Europe, Friedman saw Jewish people living in abject physical and spiritual poverty. The experience motivated him to broaden his vision.

Friedman visited with L. John Bueno, AG World Missions executive director. He discovered that while the Fellowship had undertaken missionary efforts to Jewish people, no such global outreaches existed. Friedman devised the concept of an organization called Jacob's Hope (jacobshope.com) as the first AG World Missions effort to engage the worldwide Jewish community.

Jacobs Hope pic
(From left) Chris Mann, Jeff Coose and Jeff Friedman prepare to unload supplies of the first container delivered to Israel.

"It's latent in our Fellowship that people want to do something for the Jewish people," Bueno says. "This is our only ministry to reach Jews throughout the world."

"A lot of people are supporting Jewish ministries that are not run by Christians," Friedman says. "Those groups provide humanitarian aid. But the gospel is not shared, so people aren't being evangelized."

Jacob's Hope assists both Jewish and Messianic congregations in a variety of practical ways. These include feeding Ukrainians, clothing Israelis, providing teaching materials to Belarusians, and operating a farm to employ Ethiopians.

Friedman is assisted by Vixie, his wife of 28 years. They met in Frankfurt, Germany, where they both worked at a U.S. Army medical center. Vixie, then a Methodist from Alabama, served as a military corps nurse while Jeff worked as a Department of Defense pharmacist.

The ministry has three other AG missionary couples as part of the team: Chris and Shawna Mann; Jeff and Tammy Coose; and a couple directing operations on the ground in Israel.

"I've had a longtime burden for Jewish people," says Chris Mann, who had been an AG pastor in Kansas, Kentucky and Iowa. "It is an honor to serve the Jewish people not only in Israel but globally with Jeff."

In August, Jacob's Hope teamed with Convoy of Hope for the first time and distributed a 40-foot container that included medical supplies and clothing in Israel with the help of Messianic Jews in the Holy Land. Jacob's Hope has three compassion ministry distribution centers in Israel. Jacob's Hope will team with HealthCare Ministries for the first time in January in a visit to the Ethiopian Jewish community.

Jacob's Hope also has been active in Germany, Poland, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. The ongoing vision includes operating a soup kitchen, repairing homes, building medical clinics, conducting job training and providing funds to dig wells.

As Jacob's Hope grows, Friedman says there will be opportunities for AG laypeople, who have a cultural understanding of Judaism, to take missions trips to distribute goods, work in coffeehouses and construct buildings.

Friedman believes Genesis 12:3 is a God-given promise to bless those who bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He also notes that in Romans 15 the apostle Paul writes that those who have received a spiritual inheritance from Jewish people are obligated to bring the blessings of heaven to them.

"We need to bring the Messiah to everybody, to the Jews with as much passion as we do with any other people group," Friedman says.

"I feel greatly blessed that we finally have a full-fledged ministry reaching Jewish people wherever they are," Bueno says.

AG General Superintendent George O. Wood, who has made dozens of trips to the Holy Land, also endorses the ministry.

"This is the first time that Assemblies of God adherents have a chance to invest in humanitarian, evangelistic and discipleship efforts to reach Jewish people around the world," Wood says.

Author: John W. Kennedy, Pentecostal Evangel

 


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