The Briefing: What are we praying for?

Meredith Flynn —  October 7, 2014

THE BRIEFING | You’re not the only one to ask God for a good parking spot, according to a new report from LifeWay Research. In partnership with author Max Lucado, LifeWay asked 1,137 Americans about how often they pray and what for, and got some interesting answers:

  • 7% of Americans who pray have prayed before to find a good parking spot. The same percentage have prayed they won’t get caught speeding.
  • 13% have prayed for their favorite team will win a game.
  • 21% have prayed to win the lottery.

whatpeopleprayforThe survey found Americans’ prayers are largely personal, according to a LifeWay report on the reseach. “Family and friends” tops the list of things typically prayed for (82%), followed by “my own problems and difficulties” (74%) and “good things that have recently occurred” (54%). Toward the bottom of the list:

  • People of other faiths or no faith – 20%
  • Government leaders – 12%
  • Celebrities or people in the public eye – 5%

For more findings, go to LifeWayResearch.com.

SCOTUS won’t review marriage petitions
The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to let stand lower court rulings on same-sex marriage “means an immediate expansion of gay marriage,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The Supreme Court surprised many Monday by deciding not to review appeals from states where bans on same-sex marriage have been overturned. Their move to “decide gay marriage by not deciding,” reported USA Today, could quickly make same-sex marriage legal for 60% of the U.S. population. Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said the decision “means an immediate expansion of gay marriage,” and posted on his blog about what the Court’s action means for the church.

Helping churches navigate the rapidly changing marriage culture also is the purpose of “Elevate Marriage,” an Oct. 16 conference for pastors and church leaders at the Illinois Baptist State Association in Springfield. Featured speakers include Kevin Smith, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Andrew Walker, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Jill Finley, Bethel Baptist Church, Troy, Ill. Lunch is included, and registration is required; go to www.IBSA.org/Marriage.

Warrens to host 24-hour mental health event
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, will host a 24-hour online broadcast focused on mental health on Oct. 10, designated as World Mental Health Day. According to the web page for “24 Hours of Hope,” the free event is “designed to encourage individuals living with a mental illness, educate and support their families, and equip church leaders for compassionate and effective mental health ministry.

The Warrens, who lost a son to suicide last year, hosted the “Gathering on Mental Health and the Church” at their Lake Forest, Ca., church in March. The Oct. 10 broadcast will feature material from that meeting, as well as new interviews and messages.

Annual list reports largest, fastest-growing churches
Twenty-two Southern Baptist churches are on Outreach’s new list of the 100 largest churches in America. The SBC congregation at number two on the list, NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., is also the second fastest-growing church in America. North Point Ministries, a network of churches pastored by Andy Stanley, topped the list as the country’s largest church, Outreach reported.

‘Left Behind’ misses with critics and audiences
The most recent big-screen version of “Left Behind” didn’t score well with most critics, and grossed only $6.9 million in its opening weekend (it was made for $16 million). While Variety’s review deemed the Nicolas Cage project exemplary of the bleak landscape of faith-centric movies, Christianity Today critic Jackson Cuidon said it’s not a Christian movie at all.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.