I always cringe a bit when I see secular media touting evidence for prayer. The validity of prayer does not stand or fall on scientific verification. Rather, prayer gains its validity from the mouth of God in the pages of His Word.
That said, I did put prayer to the test.
My approach didn’t address the legitimacy of prayer. That is a given. I conducted an “experiment” that explored the effect of prayer on the one praying. My study involved evangelistic prayer, looking not at the fruit of converts reaped but the relationship of prayer to the evangelistic engagement of those involved. Specifically, I evaluated the effect of prayer on (1) the degree of enthusiasm and confidence for personal evangelism, (2) the perception of personal involvement in evangelism, and (3) the degree of evangelistic activity.
The approach was straightforward. I pulled together a subject pool from three churches, which I divided into an experimental group and a control group. I had both groups complete a survey, thus establishing a baseline. The survey comprised 18 statements related to the three areas listed above that I wanted to evaluate.
The experimental group participated in a regimen of daily private prayer and eight weekly small group meetings. The control group did not participate. After the prayer regimen, I again administered the survey to the entire pool of participants. I compared the results of the experimental group that had participated in the prayer regimen with the control group that had not.
The results were remarkable. Those involved in strategic prayer demonstrated clear increases in the three areas of awareness, attitude and activity in personal evangelism over the control group. They had (1) a greater awareness of the harvest around them in their daily routine, (2) an increased sense of their role as witnesses for Christ, and (3) a greater expectancy and readiness to share their faith. Not only that, but surprising corollaries were noted through a follow-up questionnaire. For example, one consistent comment related to the blessing experienced by the simple discipline of having personal, daily devotions.
From this research, Community Houses of Prayer (CHOP) was born as a resource for the church for its exercise of the Great Commission. For more information on CHOP and how to get it started in your church, visit the CHOP Ministry website. Direction can be found at the bottom of the home page.
I’d love to hear how God works in your setting through CHOP. Please contact me at SDGale@chopministry.net.