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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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The Assemblies of God (U.S.A.) Celebrates 24 Years of Growth; World Growth Tops 67.5 Million

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 - 4:12 PM CST

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As the Assemblies of God (AG) emerges from its first 100 years, it's evident the Movement is closer than ever to the founders' vision of achieving "the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen." The AG has now experienced 24 consecutive years of growth in the U.S.A., according to new stats from AG National Leadership & Resource Center in Springfield, Missouri. This news comes amid recent reports showing declining attendance for many other North American evangelical denominations, with a significant decrease among the Millennial set.

The story is different for the U.S. Assemblies of God. Today the AG has 12,792 churches, more than at any other time in AG history. The priority given to planting new churches has expanded the Movement into an unprecedented number of communities. Over the past four years, 1,408 AG churches have been planted, creating a ripple effect across the globe. The impact is especially evident among Latino adherents, who now make up 20 percent of the Fellowship (more than 40 percent of total adherents are ethnic minorities), and Millennials (ages 18-34), who contributed 21 percent of the growth from 2001-2013.

New vital statistics released by the AG this week detail the multiple areas of growth from 2012 to 2013. The largest gain was made among water baptisms, which rose 4.3 percent. Other notable statistics include the following:

- Adherents increased 1.0 percent to 3,127,857

- Membership increased 1.4 percent to 1,805,381

- Major worship service attendance grew 2.0 percent to 1,918,686

- Water baptisms rose 4.3 percent to 137,375

- Spirit baptisms grew 2.9 percent to 83,731

- Conversions increased 0.6 percent to 456,395

- Credentialed ministers grew 1.6 percent to 36,434

Worldwide, the AG grew 1.7 percent to 67,512,302 adherents. There are now 384,205 ministers and 366,105 churches and preaching points. 

Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, says the growth signals health of the Movement, but the scope of the need remains critical. "I am grateful to the Lord that the Assemblies of God continues to experience growth both nationally and worldwide," he said. "In the U.S.A., we have now enjoyed 24 straight years of growth. The net growth of the Assemblies of God worldwide would fill over 11 stadiums, each seating 100,000. Truly, the Holy Spirit is at work in our day. 

"At the same time, we humbly recognize that there are multiplied millions that have never had an adequate presentation of the gospel or a local church in their community," Wood says. "Thus, in this our 100th year, we must redouble our efforts to bear witness, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to reach all the world with the gospel."

To see additional statistics about the Assemblies of God, click here.

Authors: AG News

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