While I enjoyed having some time off, it was good to be back together with the congregation yesterday. I thought the worship service was great with lots of different music: the chimes opening the service, Louise Bowen’s beautiful prelude, the congregational singing, Martha Reel’s offertory on the violin, and the choir number. I found it all to be uplifting and encouraging.
During the sermon time I also mentioned the importance of us reminding one another of the way that we have seen God at work in the past. Joining together for worship is an important part of our Christian walk. The fellowship time afterwards is important as well. There we can share our lives with one another.
A friend pointed me to an interesting study about the importance of church attendance and prayer on young people. The Harvard University study took a long view to see if church attendance and prayer had any long-term effects on the well-being of these young people when they grew older. This study demonstrated what previous studies have show, that young people score better in several categories of health and psychological well-being if they attended weekly worship services and prayed daily.
To quote part of the conclusion of the study: “Consistent with prior literature, our results suggest associations of frequent religious participation in adolescence with greater subsequent psychological well-being, character strengths, and lower risks of mental illness and several health behaviors” (Discussion, paragraph 2). You can read the whole study, which was released last November, by clicking here. If you would like a more readable summary of the study from a church leadership magazine, you can read it here: “Researchers Surprised by ‘Protective’ Benefits of Prayer on Youth.”
Now let me be quick to say that I don’t believe we gather together for worship and pray primarily because of the way it benefits our well-being. We do it because this is the way we express our appreciation to God for what he has done for us through Jesus Christ. Out of our love and devotion for God, I hope we would continue to worship him even in a context where it was dangerous to our lives as Christians through history and even today in other parts of the world do in showing their witness. However, it is interesting to me that study after study shows how important it is for our young people to participate in weekly worship services and daily prayers. We do so many things to make sure our children and grandchildren are healthy and are able to have happy and productive lives. From the research, it would seem that making our Christian walk a priority is a good way to do this.
I hope to see you next Sunday, and why don’t you think of someone who you’d like to invite to come along.