NASHVILLE, Tenn.—American Protestant churchgoers say God is on their mind throughout their day in both intentional and impromptu moments.
The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from LifeWay Research identified seeking God as one of the signposts of spiritual maturity.
About two in three Americans who regularly attend a Protestant church (67 percent) disagree with the statement: “Throughout many of my activities I don’t think about God,” with 40 percent strongly disagreeing.
Fewer (19 percent) agree or say they neither agree nor disagree (14 percent).
“A Christian has the opportunity to walk with God,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Most churchgoers affirm their thoughts are on God as they go about life’s activities.”
Demographic differences noted
Women are more likely than men (45 percent to 33 percent) to strongly assert they’re thinking about God throughout their day.
Middle-aged churchgoers are more likely to say they think about God during many of their activities. Those age 35 to 49 (42 percent) and 50 to 64 (46 percent) are more likely to strongly affirm their constant thoughts of God than those 18 to 34 (33 percent) and those 65 and older (36 percent).
African American (55 percent) and Hispanic churchgoers (51 percent) are more likely to strongly assert they regularly think about God during the day than white churchgoers (33 percent) or churchgoers of other ethnicities (32 percent).
Black Protestants (58 percent) are more likely than evangelical Protestants (40 percent) or mainline Protestants (27 percent) to strongly disagree they don’t think about God throughout many of their activities.
Those who attend worship services at least weekly (41 percent) are more likely than those who attend less frequently (36 percent) to strongly disagree.
Private devotions make a difference
Around two in five churchgoers (38 percent) say they set aside time for private worship, praise or thanksgiving to God every day.
Another 29 percent say they do so a few times a week, while 13 percent set aside the time once a week, 7 percent a few times a month, 4 percent once a month, and 9 percent rarely or never.
“Having an attitude of praise requires noticing who God is and what he is doing. This takes intentionality,” McConnell said. “Once we choose to observe his work, however, the thanks and worship come naturally.”
Female churchgoers (40 percent) are more likely than their male counterparts (36 percent) to say they set aside those moments every day.
African Americans (45 percent) and Hispanics (43 percent) are also more likely than whites (36 percent) or other ethnicities (31 percent) to have specific times for private worship, praise or thanksgiving every day.
Black Protestants (46 percent) and evangelical Protestants (40 percent) are more likely than mainline Protestants (29 percent) to say they have such times daily.
Frequency of worship attendance matters
Those who attend church at least weekly (40 percent) are more likely than those who attend less frequently (33 percent) to have set aside times for private worship every day.
Around three-quarters of Protestant churchgoers (78 percent) agree they find themselves praying at the spur-of-the-moment throughout the day, with 44 percent strongly agreeing.
Few disagree (8 percent), while 14 percent neither agree nor disagree.
“Who we turn to when we have good or bad news says a lot about our relationships,” McConnell said. “If we immediately want to share life’s ups and downs with God and ask him for help and guidance, that demonstrates we value our relationship with him.”
Praying without ceasing?
About half of women who regularly attend a Protestant church (49 percent) strongly agree they find themselves praying throughout the day, compared to 36 percent of male churchgoers.
Evangelical Protestants (46 percent) and black Protestants (45 percent) are more likely to strongly agree than mainline Protestants (32 percent).
Those who attend a worship service four times a month or more (46 percent) are more likely to strongly agree than those who attend less frequently (38 percent).
“Jesus opened the way for people to enter God’s presence through his death on the cross,” McConnell said. “As individuals respond to Christ’s call, they see Deuteronomy 4:29 fulfilled in their lives—when they seek God with all their soul, they will find him.”
The online survey of Protestant churchgoers was conducted Jan. 14–29, 2019. Researchers screened respondents to include those who identified as Protestant or non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Analysts used quotas and slight weights to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, income and denominational affiliation.
The completed sample is 2,500 surveys, providing 95 percent confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 2 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.