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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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School consolidation: carried on a foundation of prayer

Wed, 09 Jan 2013 - 3:49 PM CST

Soon after the decision to consolidate Central Bible College, Evangel University and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary was ratified at the 54th General Council of the Assemblies of God in Phoenix, Arizona, in August 2011, this initiative began to be bathed in prayer.

Following the Council meeting, Dr. Gary Denbow, president of Central Bible College, approached executive leadership about initiating focused times of prayer for God's blessing and guidance upon this monumental task.

Since September 2011, ten "Together in Prayer" gatherings have taken place alternately on the three campuses and at Maranatha Village, also located in Springfield; additional meetings are slated for January and April. Two of the gatherings have included campus prayer walks.

Many facets of the consolidation process have been covered in prayer during these gatherings. These include prayer for wisdom; for a sense of mission and purpose; for unity of heart, mind and spirit; for community among the three institutions; the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout; for course programs that will provide strong spiritual and academic balance; for favor with accrediting bodies; for leadership and staff structures; for student housing; for wisdom in establishing student tuition and fee structures; for unity on essential theological and doctrinal positions; for a thoroughly biblical worldview in all academic disciplines, and much more. Prayers have been led by students, faculty, administrators and alumni.

As the consolidation process moves forward, myriad details are still before the various boards and committees. Preparation is underway for a key meeting with the Higher Learning Commission, January 21-22, 2013. Leaders ask for churches and individuals to bathe the consolidation initiative in prayer as the Commission visit approaches, asking God for His wisdom and favor.

The next Together in Prayer gathering will be held 7 p.m. Monday, January 14, at the Maranatha Chapel in Maranatha Village.

Authors: John Maempa

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