Survey: Pastors Dissatisfied With Personal Prayer Lives

Very few ministers are satisfied with their personal prayer lives, according to a key finding by the Ellison Research of Phoenix, Ariz. Researchers did find, however, that those most satisfied spend a considerably greater amount of time in prayer, more likely to allocate that time to quiet time or listening to God, and prayed more often for greater issues.

A national survey, which was conducted on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention-related LifeWay Christian Resources, revealed that 16 percent of pastors are "very satisfied" with their personal prayer lives. The sample of 860 pastors found that 47 percent are somewhat satisfied, 30 percent somewhat dissatisfied and 7 percent very dissatisfied.

In general, the survey found that the younger the pastor, the more likely they are to be dissatisfied with their prayer life.

"Just 9 percent of pastors under age 45 are very satisfied, compared to 13 percent among ministers age 45 to 59 and 30 percent among pastors 60 or older" with the highest percentage of the very dissatisfied being the youngest pastors.

However, younger ministers spend about as much time in prayer - 30 minutes per day - as do older ministers. Lutherans and Presbyterians tend to spend less time in prayer than do those from other denominations, while Pentecostals and Methodists spend more time than average.

The survey found that typically, a pastor spends 12 minutes per day with prayer requests, eight minutes in quiet time, seven minutes giving thanks, seven minutes in praise and five minutes confessing sin.

The researchers found that three factors correlated with satisfaction of prayer life: amount of prayer time, subject of prayer, and worship.

Pastors who are very satisfied spent an hour per day in prayer; the somewhat satisfied averaged 43 minutes; the somewhat dissatisfied, half an hour, and the very dissatisfied averaged 21 minutes.

They found that the very satisfied spend considerably less time making requests and more time in quiet time or listening to God, all other factors being equal.

They also tend to spend more time praying for issues beyond their own lives and churches, such as missions, persecutions, outreach, global events, the nation, individual leaders, and the denomination.