Vol 12 No. 18 Revisiting Prayer

Dear friends,

I wrote last week about Angus Reid’s speech at the BC Prayer Breakfast about Canadians and prayer.  The important piece about childhood prayer is found in the paragraph below:

[The] third thing I’ve learned about prayer in Canada is that the single most important factor which determines whether an adult will pray or not is their experience as a child. When I first looked at the data on this I admit to being awestruck – maybe it’s because one of my favourite hymns is “Faith of our Fathers” – but the cross generational transmission of prayerfulness is massive. If you prayed frequently as a child the chance that you would be a non prayer today is 7%. If you didn’t pray as a child the odds that you would be a frequent prayer today is 6%. On the other hand if you prayed as a child the odds that you will pray as an adult are 93%. No matter how I looked at the data I was left with the inescapable conclusion that the actions taken in childhood – with parents, caregivers and yes, schools; place an indelible mark of faith which lasts a lifetime.

There are some other important aspects to his speech more than worthy of noting.  I put them here in bullet form so that you might go back to the article and find out the more expanded commentary from Angus Reid yourself.

  • Folk that pray frequently in this country voted (within a statistical variance) for each of the 3 main political parties in the last Federal election.
  • People that pray frequently generally have higher levels of education than those that don’t.
  • 75% of those who pray more regularly feel that God answers prayer often or always.
  • Those who pray less frequently find that that percentage of meaningful response from God drops to 25%.
  • While those who pray less frequently concern themselves primarily with petitionary prayer, those who pray more frequently emphasize thankfulness, guidance, and then petitionary prayer.

Angus Reid makes the comment that roughly the same number of people pray frequently today (around 40%) as did in the mid-1960’s.  He says that while church attendance has declined to around 15% on a weekly basis (I digress here to point out that the “committed attendance” across North America has moved from approximately 48 weeks per year to closer to 30 weeks per year… The social, recreational, and familial demands are part of that reason), the real measure of spirituality in Canada is the stability of the percentage of those who pray.  The figures of those who attend once per month and more will come in a future newsletter.

Finally, while much of this encouraging, the effect of prayer on children is the most significant part of this study and has the greatest import for our present and future activity in our churches.


In Christ,

Jeremy Bell