Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pastors - Candid Response to Prayer Survey

Survey: Most Pastors Unsatisfied With Their Personal Prayer Lives
Written by Ron Sellers
Posted at: LifeWay.com

PHOENIX, Ariz., 5/24/05 -- Very few Protestant ministers are satisfied with their personal prayer lives. This is one of the key findings of a new study conducted by Ellison Research of Phoenix, Ariz.

The study, conducted for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 860 Protestant church pastors. The study reveals just 16 percent are very satisfied with their personal prayer lives. Forty-seven percent are somewhat satisfied, 30 percent somewhat dissatisfied and 7 percent very dissatisfied.

There was a substantial difference by age group. Just 9 percent of pastors under age 45 are very satisfied, compared to 13 percent among ministers age 45 to 59 and 30 percent among pastors 60 or older. The youngest pastors are actually more likely to be very dissatisfied with their own prayer life than to be very satisfied with it.

There are not many differences by denomination or theology; the only difference was that Presbyterian ministers tend to be significantly less satisfied with their prayer lives than are others.

Pastors also were asked how long they spend in prayer each day, and what they pray for. The median amount of prayer time per day is 30 minutes, with a mean of 39 minutes. Although younger ministers are much less satisfied with their prayer life, they spend about as much time in prayer per day as do older ministers. Lutherans and Presbyterians tend to spend less time in prayer than do those from other denominations, while Pentecostals and Methodists spend more time than average.

How do ministers spend their prayer time? For the average minister, it looks like this: 32 percent in petition/requests, 20 percent in quiet time or listening to God, 18 percent in thanksgiving, 17 percent in praise and 14 percent in confession.

If these percentages are applied to the average amount of time ministers spend in prayer, the typical pastor spends 12 minutes per day with prayer requests, eight minutes in quiet time, seven minutes giving thanks, seven minutes in praise and five minutes confessing sin. Again, this does not differ substantially by the pastor’s age or denomination.

Finally, pastors were asked what they had prayed for in the seven days preceding the survey. Most had a long list of topics. At least nine out of 10 had prayed for the needs of individual congregation members, the congregation’s spiritual health, spiritual growth for their church and wisdom in leading their church. Some of the things ministers were least likely to have prayed for included the financial health of their church, numerical growth for the church, their own financial needs, persecuted Christians in other countries, individual Christian leaders and their denomination.

Throughout this study, Southern Baptist ministers were very similar to the average on most measures. One of the biggest differences was that just 24 percent of SBC ministers had prayed for their denomination in the last week, compared to an average of 39 percent for other denominational churches, including 49 percent among Methodists, 61 percent among Presbyterians, and 67 percent among Lutherans. In general, mainline pastors are much more likely to pray for their denomination than are evangelical ministers (57 percent to 34 percent


Christopher Dart said...

Is it possible that someone conduct a survey indicating whether pastors of the Church in New England diligently seek the face of God in Prayer. Also, determine if they actually know what is required to seek the face of God.
The problem exists in which churches simply don't display any existence of God among them. A Hebrew word describes that condition: Ichabod.
The only way one can show forth the presence of Christ is by having been with Him. That will be characteristic of those who seek His face. Qualification must be made as to what seeking the face of God diligently is. It shouldn't be time compromised with commuting, eating, jogging or walking the dog. It must be prayer between the man and God, as Jesus said, in the closet with the door closed.
Could you, please, determine whether the leaders of the Church are truly leading in prayer?

Thank you.

Phil Miglioratti said...


My thanks for your comment - This is an important issue, for certain.

How would I (or anyone) "determine whether the leaders of the Church are truly leading in prayer"? What criteria would you consider capable of reaching such a conclusion?