NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When it comes to prayer, Canadian churchgoers tend to be spontaneous.
Most talk to God on the spur of the moment rather than setting aside specific times in their schedule.
And more than half say pleasing God is their main purpose in life.
Those are among the findings of a major survey of spirituality from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
The “Transformational Discipleship” study included interviews with more than 1,000 pastors and 4,000 Protestant churchgoers in North America.
Among them were 1,068 Canadians who go to church at least once a month.
Researchers looked at eight attributes they say are found in the lives of spiritually mature Christians. One of them is “Seeking God,” which measures daily interactions with God, especially outside of church services.
Another one in five (18 percent) say they rarely or never set aside time for prayer.
By contrast, more than half (55 percent) pray at the spur of the moment throughout the day.
Women churchgoers are more likely than men (56 percent vs. 47 percent) to set aside time for prayer every day to a few times a week.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said there’s a link between spiritual maturity and intentional prayer.
“Spiritual maturity is not an accident; seeking God speaks of intentionality—the believer who desires to know God in a deeper way and strives toward that goal,” Stetzer said.
Besides prayer, about one in five of churchgoers (17 percent) say they set aside time daily for private worship or thanksgiving to God, with the same number saying they do so a few times a week.
Nearly three out of 10 (29 percent) say they rarely or never have times of private worship or thanksgiving.
According to the survey, women are more likely than men (52 percent vs. 44 percent) to set aside time once a week or more for private worship, praise or thanksgiving to God.
Churchgoers also told researchers faith is a vital part of their life.
Eighty percent agree with the statement, “My Christian faith is very important in my life today.” And more than half (52 percent) say pleasing and honouring God is one of the main reasons they live their lives the way they do.
Stetzer said developing better spiritual habits would help churchgoers better live out their faith.
“When Jesus invited disciples to follow Him, it was a call to intentionally seek Him, to know Him, and to live for Him,” Stetzer said. “This involves spending regular time with Him.”
LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity based on eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides practical suggestions for continued spiritual development.
For more information, visit LifeWayResearch.com. The TDA is available at TDA.LifeWay.com.
Methodology: LifeWay Research surveyed a representative sample of 1,086 Canadian adults as part of the Transformational Discipleship study. Participants attend a Protestant church at least once a month. The sample included churchgoers from a range of Protestant denominations, including mainline and evangelical churches. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish and French. A demographically balanced online panel was used for the interviewing. Surveys were conducted Oct. 14-22, 2011.