In our last blog, we looked at the importance of prayer for our spiritual growth, but what about activities such as prayer meeting attendance? And how do such activities impact our belief in an understanding of important doctrines?
Prayer Meeting Attendance
The 2017–2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS) asked members about their participation and engagement in various spiritual practices. Overall, nearly two in five (38%) respondents reported that in the last year, they had attended prayer meetings at church once a week or more often. Respondents in the West-Central Africa Division reported the highest involvement in prayer meeting attendance (53%), attending once a week or more often; this may be connected to the cultural/religious values and communal mindset of the given territory. Members in the North American Division (14%) and Trans-European Division (18%) were the least likely to have attended prayer meetings once a week or more often in the last year. Again, this is likely tied to the more secular cultural values in these Divisions, which tend to be more individualistic and autonomous.
It is noteworthy to mention that there was no correlation between the importance of prayer in respondents’ childhood (specifically having prayer before meals) and their attendance at prayer meetings at the time of the survey. From this, we can assume that members think independently and choose to be involved (or not involved, as the case may be) of their own will.
Power of Prayer in Jesus’s Name
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. (Philippians 2:9–10 KJV)
Globally, the 2017–18 GCMS discovered that almost all Church members (90%) agreed that the only way to defeat evil powers was through prayer in the name of Jesus. Of that number, two-thirds of the members strongly agreed. These are good results, but we should not overlook the small number of those who disagreed or expressed their doubts. It could be that they did not experience Jesus’s power over evil forces, they had not heard about such cases, or their prayers did not work. These people need special support and care.
What did the research show in the Division-by-Division breakdown? In all but one Division, between 90% and 95% of the respondents agreed to one degree or another that prayer in the name of Jesus was the only way to defeat evil powers. Respondents from the South Pacific Division were the most likely to agree strongly with this statement (78%). Surprisingly, the lowest agreement on this question was in the Southern Asia Division; still, two-thirds agreed. In addition, this Division had the largest number of those who had doubts—about one out of five admitted they were unsure. In addition, the largest number of those who disagreed—about one out of ten—was found here. This is possibly because these people live in a context heavily invaded by spiritualistic practices and beliefs and often witness the great controversy between God and evil powers. Thus, it is very real in that part of the world and it is important to strengthen their belief in Jesus’s power and provide practical advice on what a believer can do in such encounters. At the same time, the research showed that there were people who doubted or disagreed with this statement in each Division. In other Divisions, the numbers of overall disagreement ranged from 2% to 6%, and the numbers of doubts, from 2% to 11%. Thus, while it appears that members worldwide understand the power of Jesus’s name, the Division breakdown showed that agreement on this belief was slightly lower where members had more questions on this doctrine. Church leadership should prepare to address these teachings more often from the pulpit.
2017-18 GCMS Q42.22, Total n= 56859, ECD n= 7180, ESD n=2061, EUD n=3682, IAD n=4489, NAD n=1693, NSD n=2734, SAD n=13886, SID n=4988, SPD n=3109, SSD n=6874, SUD n=2803, TED n=1186, WAD n=2174
While researchers found no correlation between respondents’ involvement in prayers as children (specifically having prayer before meals) and their belief that only the name of Jesus can defeat evil powers and demonic spirits, it should be noted that the majority of Adventists around the world believe in the power of Jesus’ name.
Prayer is powerful. It connects us with God and enables us to see others through the eyes of Jesus. Prayer is vital to a believer, and when we come together in prayer groups and prayer meetings and pray for one another’s needs, we can see God’s hand working in one another’s lives. These experiences will strengthen our faith and give us a confidence in God’s love that no sermon can instill in us.
Therefore, Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the matter of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23–25 KJV)
Church involvement (apart from Sabbath morning church services) helps us see God in a very practical way. By studying His Word with others and helping others with their needs, we discover and understand God’s love for us even more; that is important for our spiritual growth and edification. God loves us regardless of our cultural background, Division, nation, tribe, or tongue. Let us tell others about this wonderful hope, the power of praying together, and the power of prayer in Jesus’s name, as well as the power of His love!
You can find further research findings regarding prayer in these blogs:
For more research findings on the total sample, please see the Meta-Analysis report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR on 05-04-2022