I published the results of this research under the post – GOD LOVES YOU, DO YOU LOVE GOD? with a different message but this post is aimed at young people with the message on the CBN video.
Dr. Josh Packard, executive director of Springtide Research Institute, told CBN’s Faithwire about his extensive research into 13-to-25-year-olds, noting studies have long found “religion is good for you.”
“Faith and spirituality are good for you,” Packard said. “If you’re a person who believes in some kind of higher power and has a connection to that higher power, you’re generally flourishing more than your peers.”
He continued, “Those who pray more tend to be flourishing more in all areas, including their mental health.”
Packard’s comments are particularly stunning when America faces an “epidemic of mental health [crises] among young people.” Meanwhile, there’s also a massive rise in the proportion of “nones” who no longer affiliate with a specific faith or religion.
Data pointing to increased wellness among the faithful is particularly pertinent in the midst of these dynamics, pointing to a potential solution to cultural conundrums.
Packard said there are lessons in Springtide Research Institute’s findings that can inform the culture and churches alike, especially in an era in which faith is being downplayed or diminished.
“Young people would be … better off if more of them had a connection to something bigger than themselves,” he said. “But also, I think a lot of religious institutions and leaders would do well to take mental health into account, so that like faith and belief could be appropriately part of somebody’s overall approach to health.”
While young people might not be aligning with Christianity at rates they once were, Packard said many still see themselves as spiritual, and more than half pray.
While the separation from biblical truth is undoubtedly troubling for Christians, these realities show at least openness to a higher power. And that intrigue could lead to receptive Gospel introductions.
“We see lots of desire from Gen Z to embark on these conversations and explorations of meaning and purpose and, ‘Why am I here on this Earth?’” he said. “So, the desire hasn’t gone away. The exploration hasn’t gone away.”
Recent research has found Christians are exceptional at giving, fare better in relationships, church attendees are happier and more content, and churchgoers have better mental health. Read more about these findings.
One of the genuine marks of the Christian faith is that we do not worship a distant God. He isn’t some distant being with no care or interest in His people. Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the third person of the Trinity to indwell our spirit. Our spirit is the lamp of the Lord and before The Fall was indwelt by the Holy Spirit which is the oil needed for God’s lamp to function.
“The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Proverbs 20:27
The Holy Spirit indwells those whom He has redeemed. He is the one that produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. He is the one that provides the gifts of the Spirit for ministry. He is our counsellor, teacher, and comforter. He is the one that enables us to live a Christian life. That’s why Paul was able to write “rejoice in the Lord, again I will say rejoice. The Lord is at hand. And we know that is the reality for a believer because He has “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Before the ages began God had a personal plan for all of His people; He doesn’t orchestrate this from a distance, He is within His people.
Not only is He present, but He also wants to hear from His people. God desires believers to communicate with Him through prayer, and He doesn’t just want some highlights. He calls the saints to bring everything to Him “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
At any moment, by the merit of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians have the divinely given right to approach God with anything through prayer. The One who created and sustains the universe not only can hear your prayers, He wants to answer those prayers. Prayer is absolutely amazing because Christians have a more challenging time getting in touch with their utilities provider than directly communicating with the Lord and creator of the entire universe. If that fact about prayer doesn’t excite you, nothing will. Note also the Holy Spirit will help you pray.
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Philippians 4:4-7
Through Christ we have the opportunity to pray, but what does prayer do in and to a believer? This Scripture reveals four things.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
“Do not be anxious about anything” – That’s a bold statement. But it’s true because if “God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We know God is for us because He wants to hear our prayers and take a personal interest in what’s going on in our lives. He knows all things but still wants us to approach the throne with all things.
“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” – Praying to God and bringing our needs to Him reminds us that he has already supplied the greatest need of all, His Son (James 1:17, Romans 6:23) which is why we pray in His name.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Prayer isn’t always answered in the manner we desire, but it is always answered.
Prayer connects us to God and each other as we live as God’s people in this fallen world. In a word, it’s hard to be at each other’s throats while we’re on our knees together in prayer.
In Australia,Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said biblical views on abortion and sexuality are, “appalling, intolerant, hatred, bigotry, and just wrong.”
Daniel Andrews, the Roman Catholic Premier of Victoria, has not only defied the God of the Bible, turned a deaf ear to the wider Christian population, but has specifically rejected the teachings of his own Church.
How quickly what we saw as foundational human rights such as freedom of speech, religion, and association are clearly eroding under the Andrews government, and other governments nationwide.
We should not be surprised as Jesus warned us that persecution/tribulation will escalate in the last days and that we will be hated by all nations for standing up for Jesus and His values.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:9-14
While this life is fraught with many trials and tribulations, the sufferings we experience are to be counted as incomparable with the glories to come. This anticipation for glory sustains us and brings forth one major reason why we persevere: we hope in the age to come rather than in this broken and fallen age.
Paul says, that in the same way, this hope for glorification sustains us, the Spirit sustains us, for He knows precisely how to intercede on our behalf before the Father.
Where words and utterances fail us in our prayers, the Spirit transforms them into prayers that match the will of God. The Spirit’s work of intercession on our behalf is part and parcel of our endurance; we endure not only for the hope of the age to come but specifically because part of the Spirit’s work is to bring about endurance in us.
Human suffering has a purpose that culminates in glory. To make that even clearer: the purpose of our trials and sufferings is to bring us to the final redemption, where we see God face to face, free from the pain, devastation, and destruction caused by the curse of sin, our adversary Satan, and death itself.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
God’s Word clearly tells us to ‘pray about everything.’
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, buttest everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21
What an important Scripture read it often and practice what it teaches and you will know the truth about God and His desire to be in a relationship with you.
Today, science is beginning to recognize the value and the power of prayer. Researchers investigating the role of faith in health are discovering evidence that’s hard to refute.
THE MIND HEALTH REPORT (Secrets to Unlocking Your Mind for Work, Love, and Life) produced by Newsmax: A 2014 study confirmed that people who engage in private prayer, intercessory prayer, and church activities are healthier and live longer.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY: Researchers found that praying for somebody increases your readiness to forgive them. When a group of men and women prayed for the well-being of a close friend every day for four weeks, they were more willing to forgive not only the friend but people in general. Forgiveness is associated with better overall health and satisfaction with life.
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: Their researchers discovered that prayer and religious practices improve your ability to pursue and achieve long-term goals. Prayer affects regions in your brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred are more determined to attain them.
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON: A research study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that victims of abusive relationships recovered a positive self-image and reduced their emotional pain when their lives included prayer.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Columbia University researchers found that people who value religion and regularly attend church are 90 percent less likely to suffer from depression than their non-religious peers.
If you pray according to the will of God expect to receive a response as did Isaiah
“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.” Isaiah 7:16
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare”Isaiah 29:7
That’s pretty strong evidence in favour of prayer, wouldn’t you say?
Scripture is clear: “As He who called you is holy, you also must be holy in all your conduct”1 Peter 1:15
Look what A.W.Tozer said:
“I look back and remember a day when it was common for men and women to come to an altar of prayer and kneel there, shake, tremble, and weep in agony of conviction over their iniquity. We do not see it now because the God we preach is not the everlasting, awful Holy One who cannot look upon iniquity. When we get a vision of the Holy One as he desires to reveal himself, this will come back as a mighty power to change us into his likeness.”
Tozer then quotes this hymn by Charles Wesley:
Lord, incline me to repent; Let me now my fall lament, Deeply my revolt deplore, Weep, believe, and sin no more.
Repentance is the lost word in the Christian dictionary. You may want to consider adding the sentiment of Charles Wesley’s words to your next prayer. I am sure you won’t use Wesley’s words exactly.
It is not as if we have to repent and be holy in our own strength. Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to enable us to be holy. He will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life and enable you to do the ministry that God has called you to do. We just need to submit to His leading day by day and not grieve Him or quench His work in our lives.
God’s Word gives us many examples of people who went to God for help but David is a standout
David had just been anointed King over Israel and the Philistines heard of it and searched for him.
“So David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?’ The Lord answered, ‘Go up for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.’ So David went and at Baal Perazim, there he defeated them. David exclaimed, ‘the Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.’ Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim (Master of Breakthroughs).” (2 Samuel 5:17-20)
The Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the valley of Rephaim (giants.) David enquired again of the Lord. This time the Lord said, ‘you shall not go up: circle round behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the trees advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.’ And David did what the Lord commanded him, and drove back his enemies.
There are times when we need a breakthrough from the Lord. The problem is beyond us, we need Him to act. Wisely David enquired of the Lord and very wisely he followed the Lord’s instructions and there was a breakthrough.
In itself, that breakthrough was a battle rather than the whole war, for the Philistines returned and threatened again. Very wisely David enquired again and did not repeat the previous strategy. This time the Lord’s plan was different. Again, following the word from the Lord, David had victory over his enemy.
When we need a breakthrough, for the problem is greater than us, we can enquire of the Lord. We can listen for His answer but note that it may need patience which is difficult when we are under threat. Yet scripture assures us that we will receive an answer –
‘Ask and it will be given to you…For everyone who asks, receives.’Matthew .7:7-8
The apostle Peter confirms that the breakthrough will come if we stand firm. He says ‘Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…cast all your care on Him…be sober and vigilant… The devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him and stand firm in the faith… Then after you have suffered a while the God of all grace will give you the breakthrough – He will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.’ (from 1 Peter 5:6-11)
Paul wrote to the Ephesians telling them to stand and when they had done everything to keep standing – always looking out for the sword of the Spirit – that specific word (rhema) from God, that specific instruction just like David received when he enquired of the Lord. Our breakthrough comes in the same way – ask, listen and obey the specific instruction, not relying on previous victories for God’s strategy is always right for every problem. Patience is needed!
Why is patience needed? Because patience is having its perfect work in us. Patience is abiding under pressure – enduring. So we keep standing and waiting for the breakthrough which will surely come at the right time.
Randy Alcorn lost his wife Nanci recently due to cancer. Obviously Nanci and Randy prayed for healing when they first learned the bad news. Fortunately, both learned a great deal about God through the experience and as a result, their trust and faith in God increased. Moreover, we are benefiting now from Randy sharing their story with us
On November 14, 2019, Nanci wrote the following in her journal:
Today I am thinking about “faith.” I have learned so much about faith.
What faith is not:
Trying to gather as much hope and “possibilities” in my own mind to reach a certain level.
Believing in that level of possibilities as hard as I can.
Presenting that package of my own hopes and dreams to God as my personal qualification to receive my hopes and dreams
God weighing the level of that package in order to determine the level of His answer to my prayers If I work up enough hope on my own, God will answer my prayers according to my wishes
What faith is:
A deep and continued study of the character and work of God Almighty
A deep and continued discipline of prayer—listening to the Holy Spirit—praying Scripture—seeking forgiveness—asking for enlightenment—praising Him for His character and works
Then, based upon the above, submit your requests to God Almighty—placing your well-grounded knowledge of His character and works into each request, always asking His will be done
Faith is being assured that God Almighty always acts according to His character and works. He never waivers. You can trust in God Almighty to always do the right thing. Nothing slips through His grid. God has everything planned, and all His plans will succeed.
The more I understand God’s character and works, the stronger my faith will be, and the more I want His will to be done knowing God does all things well.
The more I understand God’s: – Omniscience, Omnipotence, Grace, Mercy, Justice/Worth, Immanence, Immutability, Faithfulness, Love, Unity, Trinity, Holiness. The more my faith in Him will calm my soul.
Randy adds the following:
Some people hold tenaciously to a faith that their child will not die, that their cancer will disappear, and that their spouse will recover from a stroke. Do they have faith in God or is their faith in what they desperately want God to do?
If we base our faith on lack of affliction, our faith lives on the brink of extinction and will fall apart at any moment because of a frightening diagnosis or a shattering phone call. Token faith will not survive suffering, nor should it. Only when we jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can we replace it with valid faith in the true God—faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.
God tells us that trials in which evil and suffering come upon us “have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). Paul Tournier wrote, “If healing through faith is striking, how much more so are spiritual victories without healing.”
Several years ago, before Nanci was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote this in a blog titled “If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?”:
We should pray for ourselves and our suffering loved ones, not simply try to pray away suffering. ‘God, please heal this cancer‘ is appropriate. ‘God, please use for your glory this cancer, so long as I have it’ is equally appropriate.
Let me be clear: God can and sometimes does heal presently, and whenever He does we should celebrate His mercy! I have often prayed for healing and sometimes I have witnessed it, and it’s a wonderful thing to behold and celebrate. But ultimately, all healing in this world is temporary, since people’s bodies inevitably deteriorate and die (after Lazarus died and was risen in his mortal body, eventually he had to die again) Resurrection healing will be permanent. For that our hearts should overflow with praise to our gracious God.
Nanci and I have long known that prosperity theology, or the health and wealth gospel, is a deception, not the true gospel. So we did not even once cling to the “certainty” that God would heal her in this world under the Curse.
Nanci’s journals overflow with the promises of God, and many quotes from Spurgeon and the Puritans, people who died long ago (some of whom she probably already met—if there is a line for those waiting to meet Spurgeon, she’s probably in it having delightful conversations). Nanci never quoted from aging and dying prosperity preachers, who will all die of something and daily get closer to death even as they promise “It’s always God’s will to heal you,” typically adding “send us your prayer requests for healing, along with a love offering [money].”
Though we prayed for it every night for four years, we understood that healing was never a certainty, and also knowing full well that sometimes He chooses to heal and sometimes He doesn’t, and even when He does the healing is temporary, and death always comes. “For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). When doctors told us Nanci was going to die, she told me, “We always knew that, we just didn’t know when, and we still don’t.”
But of course, God promises the death of death. He will not let it die a natural death, He will decisively “swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). Death will not have the last word. God will.
Jesus said to Martha, mourning the death of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Answering the question Jesus asked Martha, Nanci and I both said yes—we DO believe you, Jesus. We believe that even when we die, we will live, and in the sense of final death, we will never die at all. We will depart a cursed earth to live with Him in the present Heaven, from which He will one day bring our spirits down to join our bodies in resurrection, and we will then live forever on God’s New Earth.
Randy, God does not bring our spirits down to join our bodies in the resurrection. God raises the dead first and then raptures the living Saints and they meet Jesus in the air in their new bodies (changed in an instant). Later, they come down from heaven in their resurrected bodies to rule and reign with Jesus during His Millennial reign on this earth.
“For the Lord, himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:52-53
Make prayer the steering wheel of your life as do Alex and Stephen Kendrick but you also need to get out of the driver’s seat and let the Holy Spirit take control.
Brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who have created iconic Christian films like “Facing the Giants,” “Courageous,” “Fireproof,” “War Room,” and “Overcomer,” are gearing up for a unique, new project they believe is a “divine appointment” for the times in which we’re living. “Lifemark,” which releases in select theaters nationwide on September 9 with Fathom Events, tells the true story of an adopted young man’s journey to meet his birth parents. The film comes as society boisterously debates the life issue and as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that codified nationalized abortion. The Kendricks, who partnered with actor Kirk Cameron to create the powerful adoption story, know the timing isn’t a coincidence.
This movie is a result of prayer and letting God direct the Kendrick brother’s actions.
Watch this video and be inspired. If you live in the USA watch out for the movie, Lifemark in September.
Denzel Washington’s instant reaction to Will Smith’s Slap Is a convicting reminder to us all: ‘The Only Solution Was Prayer’
The actor knew the importance of turning to the Lord in the heat of the moment. Rather than join in panic, ignore the problem or take another worldly approach, Washington decided to act upon our Ephesians 6:18 mandate.
“Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
Like the others around him, he could have remained seated in shock and awe. He could have whispered and wondered while disengaging from what was happening around him.
But Washington took a different route and decided to pray alongside Smith.
In reality, it was a simple act of obedience. But, in practice, Washington’s immediate, level-headed, and God-focused response to the crisis now poses a convicting reminder to us all.
As he explained: “The vast majority of us will never behave in a manner that garners international rebuke nor will we be witness to one, yet we all face trials, tribulations, and problems in our everyday lives. And when we do, what’s our first response?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s often much easier to rage, judge, yell, ignore, or flee. Yet we’re called to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” We’re called to seek the Lord not only when we face these situations but when others, too, are in the midst of turmoil.”
Distinguished actor Denzel Washington sat down with me during our 2022 @ThisIsILS and taught us how he used his faith to mitigate a painful situation.
Gone are the days when gun-shy theologians bowed to the god of science. Reliable scientists are now affirming how ingenious God is and how His principles hold up under the piercing light of scientific scrutiny.
Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, MD, who studies the relationship between spiritual phenomena and the brain, has demonstrated that we were designed physically and mentally to interact with God through prayer and Scripture. It’s a known fact that there are centres in the human brain that respond positively to prayer, reading and meditating on God’s Word, group worship, hymn singing, and empathy for other people. And Dr Newberg believes that practising a personal religious faith is the most powerful way to maintain a healthy brain.
The brain’s frontal lobe is used in focusing attention, rational thinking, and decision-making. It responds to prayer and meditation by helping to reduce stress, strengthen our immune system, enhance memory, and increase our capacity for compassion. It helps us ward off age-related brain deterioration and live longer! Newberg’s research indicates that praying for at least twelve minutes a day slows age-related brain decline. Prayer and reading Scripture also deactivates areas in the brain associated with anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, resentment, and pessimism. It seems that finally, twenty-first-century science has joined ancient Scripture in echoing what the psalmist said: “Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous.’”
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14
Can you think of a better reason to ‘let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly’?
“And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16