Church Leaders Urge Christians to Reduce Their Prayer Footprints
Experts warn of a looming shortage of "supernatural resources"Category: Church
VATICAN CITY — An unprecedented summit of Christian leaders convened here earlier this month to take part in a summit to address what many fear could be the greatest spiritual crisis of our time — a shortage of prayer.
“With the global economic crisis touching more and more lives around the world, we have just one question,” said Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley. “Where is all of the extra prayer that these people need going to come from?”
A portion of the summit, which included both evangelical and Catholic leaders from around the world, was focused on finding alternative sources of prayer to solve the looming prayer gap over the long term, but the vast majority of the sessions targeted ways to get Christians to reduce their need for prayer and become good stewards of what leaders are calling “supernatural resources.” All of these discussions culminated in a loud and clear message to Christians: reduce your prayer footprint.
While no formal definition of a prayer footprint exists, it is generally understood to be a rough calculation of the total amount of prayer used to address the requests and needs of a given Christian. Leaders are suggesting a number of simple steps for believers to reduce their contribution to the expected prayer shortage.
But a joint statement signed by the 200-plus summit attendees suggests that small changes in the way Christians around the world ask for and receive prayer won’t be enough.
“All available data points to Christians praying less and less while requiring more and more prayer,” the statement reads. “Eliminating obvious waste in the prayer process will alleviate prayer problems in the short term, but the long term solution will have to include both a significant reduction in the prayer footprint of the average Christian and a vigorous search for alternative sources of prayer.”
Accomplishing those goals, said summit attendees, will require a fundamental paradigm shift in the Christian community.
“We know that the average Christian prays just five to ten minutes a day, and that the number of Christians is finite,” said Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson. “This is going to lead to some tough questions. Does your sister’s ankle sprain really need to use up supernatural resources in these times? Do we need to pray for every single person who has a non life-threatening illness, or can we lump them all together into a single line item? As Christians, we need start thinking seriously about shepherding this resource in a responsible way.”
Summit attendees also began the process of establishing guidelines to help Christians calculate their prayer footprint, as well as details of a Supplication Mitigation system that allows Christians to offset an overuse of supernatural resources by purchasing prayer credits. Proceeds from the sale of these credits will go to fund research into alternative sources of prayer.
“We’ve been looking into the possibility of prayer centers in India to handle some of the anticipated prayer load,” Bell said. “We’ve also given some thought to approaching the Screen Actor’s Guild to get actors and extras in church scenes on TV and in movies to take an actual list of prayer requests when they have to act like they’re praying. These are the kinds of creative, out-of-the-box solutions we need at a time like this.”
It’s unclear whether the prayer footprint summit will be an annual event, but organizers are making an unusual request of the public.
“Please don’t pray for our efforts,” O’Malley said.