Summary: You’ll pray for spiritual strength for their times of weakness. You’ll pray spiritual eyes for their times of carelessness. You’ll pray spiritual love for their times of selfishness. And you’ll pray spiritual depth for their times of shallowness.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who have died in service of our nation. Many of you know of someone who died during their service in the military. For some, this was your very children. Today, we express a small token of the rightful appreciation due to these men and women.

Let’s pray:

Father in Heaven,

We come before your throne on this day to remember the courage of people who stood against evil in foreign and domestic places. The uniform of our military is a reminder of the justice found in you, holy God. You love justice and you hate the chaos of disordered societies. I pray your healing presence is with fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, and sisters and brothers who have lost their family members in service to such great ideas of religious freedom. You never intended anyone to be forced into conversion for faith to you and you certainly desire everyone to have the right to know you in all nations. Father, may you bless us with the courage to stand against religious tyranny anywhere and everywhere. Will you give us brave men and women to boldly push back against evil dictators who seek to prevent people from having access to you and your word.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Keep Ephesians 3 open with me. This is the third week to look at one of the most beautiful prayers in all the Bible. It’s as if you are on an escalator moving right into heaven itself. It’s obviously a prayer from the first words in verse 14, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.”

Generation Z

For the third Sunday, I am challenging our church to use this prayer to pray for a teenager or child in the coming weeks. Generation Z may not be a familiar term for you but are those young people born between 1995 and 2010. Gen Z is quickly becoming the largest American generation yet. According to the US census estimates, there around 68 million of these young people in the United States, a little more than 24% of the total population. Many of these are today’s teenagers and children 18 and under. They have even been called “screen-agers.” They love to use a device to communicate where more than 70% of their communication is akin to texting. In fact, their phone is often their wallet.

On the Same Page

A man backed up his pickup truck to his kitchen door where there was a stove. And the stove seemed to be wedged in the kitchen door, and he was wrestling with it. A neighbor saw what was happening, jumped up in the back of the pickup truck, and said, “I’ll help you.” And they wrestled and wrestled and wrestled. And after a while, the neighbor said, “I don’t believe we’ll ever get this stove in the kitchen.” The man said, “Get it in the kitchen? I was trying to put it on the truck!” We need to on the same page together. We need to unite together to pray as one person for a spiritual breakthrough. Say “amen” if you agree with me.

I am challenging us to pray for a spiritual breakthrough for this generation.

Dropping Out of Church

And this generation is more apt to drop out of church when they move into their young adult years. I will cite three studies in the next couple of minutes that show us that Gen Z is dropping out of church and dropping out of religion. You see the results of a Lifeway study on the screen now.

This Lifeway study shows that many of our young adults are dropping church when they leave the youth group. This is consistent with a recent UCLA study, where around three in ten first-time students spread out over 184 colleges and universities have no religious affiliation. Students with no religious affiliation were just one in ten in 1986. So the number of young adults with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled in a matter of 35 years.

We need to unite together to pray as one person for a spiritual breakthrough.

Warm Personal Relationships

Now, it’s not the universities or the atheistic college professors to blame for our young adults dropping out of church. Studies tell us that this is happening while they are still at home with their parents. It’s not a “there” problem, it’s a “here” problem. Teens are disengaging from church before they ever step foot on a college campus or away from their parents’ home. How do we counter this trend? Let me share with you one more study that I found really helpful. A massive study on religious faith transmission by a University of Southern California sociologist of more than 3,500 people shows that the key is warm family relationships. Healthy, warm relationships are the single most important factor in faith transmission when examining how to successfully keep the next generation in church. In particular, the study indicates that the father is the key. When the father has a warm relationship with his teens and he is engaged, faith transmission to the next generation is much more secure. The study also highlighted those warm relationships with grandparents and the wider faith community were also essential.

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