Prayerful Steve says God is raising up a spiritually hungry generation
BY ANTHONY CASTLE
Auxiliary-Lieutenant Steve Freind is a mission leader at Ellenbrook Salvos and a Youth and Young Adults Secretary in Western Australia. The invitation to support hundreds of young people in prayer started a year-long journey that has made all the difference to his spiritual life.
“This prayer event came on the radar about 12 months ago for me, with some conversations with key leaders in Western Australia,” Steve explains. “Perth had got picked for the World Prayer Assembly, and I was asked to engage the youth and young adults at the event. There was a team of us that came together and journeyed together for nine months, praying into the space, asking how we engage young people in all this?”
The World Prayer Assembly recently convened at the Perth Convention Centre from 3-6 October. The assembly drew a diverse crowd of over 5000 participants worldwide for prayer sessions, workshops and guest speakers. Steve has been a youth worker for 18 years, engaging young people and leaders at camps and through programs and conferences across Australia.
“We wanted to hear the voices of young people,” Steve says. “We didn’t know how many were coming to the event, but across the week, we engaged with 500 young people. We always asked young people to lead, to speak, to set the agenda, to ask ‘what’s next?’ There can be such a spiritual passion in young people, who are way more engaged than people often think.”
A spiritually hungry generation
Research shows that a greater proportion of younger people attend religious services more frequently than older age groups. Data also reveals that while most Gen Z teens have little to do with church in their personal lives, a significant proportion are interested in different ways of being spiritual.
“I think young people will lead the Church into new things,” says Steve. “They’re a hungry generation with strong faith, so how do we raise up young people in prayer? We asked young people, ‘What does it mean for you to pray? To pray for other young people? To be in mission spaces? What’s on your heart?’”
Young adults may no longer have social or cultural ties to particular church denominations. They still rate the highest in terms of attending religious services and can be a spiritually-minded generation.
Salvos Year of Prayer
The Salvation Army is currently launching 12 months of prayer, uniting the states across four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, and winter), with invitations for all people of all ages to help build a rhythm of prayer.
“Prayer makes all the difference,” Steve explains. “I’ve learnt that this can be done in many places, whether it’s quiet time while alone, driving in car, riding my bike, or even while running an activity in a school. I no longer run a program, assist with Doorways, or hang out with young people, hoping God will do something. I am now expectant that in all areas of ministry, God is at work. The Salvos are launching their year of prayer, and the experience of the last 12 months has led into it for me.”
The Salvos Year of Prayer will focus on a different Scripture each week, and every Sunday afternoon there is an invitation to pray, either in person or online. Each week also features invitations for people to be creative and join community.
“I have a whole new understanding of prayer in the last 12 months,” Steve says. “What I learned was that when you come along people through humility and unity, it’s not about your voices or theirs, it’s about what God’s doing. It’s surreal. We’re so used to working as a team, in structures, with obligations. If we can create prayer spaces, God will do something incredible.”
More information about involvement with the Salvos Year of Prayer, which starts on 29 October, can be found here