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Published January 2022

Provided by CCNL ( Christian Churches Network of London)
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

The previous year ending is often visually depicted as an old man - bent over, worn out - we would all agree that would be a highly accurate rendition of 2021 - it seems a miracle that old man is standing at all given the last few weeks of Omicron! A new year however, is often presented as a smiling baby - full of promise, hope and opportunity - and don't we all pray that 2022 indeed will be a fresh start in so many ways. In Scripture, the phrase "from generation to generation" is used frequently. A generation is between a 15-25 year span, a turnover of adults with new ideas, experiences, and expectations that shift how we operate as humans in this world...subtle shifts or sometimes gigantic changes occur: wheels, new lands, automobiles, world wars, electricity, internet and antibiotics to name just a few. Each and every new generation is charged with the immense responsibility to learn from the past, to seek to live honorably in the present, and to demonstrate concern for the future. Gratefully, you alone God, remain steadfast and consistent in your great compassion and desire for each generation upon generation. Psalm 100:5 (NLT) "For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation."

We acknowledge that this may take the month to pray through completely – pray a section at a time!
We invite you to use the bolded titles as a summary guide.

First, we give you thanks God for differences between generations
As we begin 2022, let's join together to pause and pray for each & every generation, now living in a growing diversity of ages and cultures, each with unique strengths, needs and viewpoints. Please God, give us willing hearts and open minds to gain greater understanding of each other. Help us value not discount any age too quickly. It's easy to be critical of each new generation with a "the sky is falling" mentality and/or blame of each past generation with a "they really messed things up" mindset. It takes more work, more listening, more observing to see how each is shaped by the culture around them and how each shapes their culture going forward. We invite you as you pray to picture those you know in each age group - it may be yourself, friends or family members, neighbours or co-workers, children or grandchildren. These are merely broad strokes of some of the differences between us, not intended to be an in-depth comprehensive social analysis, but rather shared to expand our recognition of our ever-changing world - there will always be many exceptions.

We pray for those known as the 'Elders' or the 'Builders', all those 72 and older
The largest growing group in Canada right now is those over 72, born prior to 1950, as early baby boomers are rapidly moving into it. This older group have been initiators, founders and risk takers as they grew up in a postwar world of new opportunities. Hard workers, survivors of world conflicts and economic depressions, many were first or second generation Canadians as immigrants. Most grew up with organized religion, identified as either Catholic or Protestant. Many are living longer than they expected - still in their own or in multi-generational homes, some in retirement communities and some in long-term care. We thank you God for the rich heritage and foundations they laid for us, for their wisdom and experiences freely shared. Some feel very vulnerable as health concerns, strained healthcare supports and changing economics grow, and distant families are not what they expected. Help them to find value and purpose in these 'golden' years and to still flourish in their faith. Help us treat these elders with dignity and respect, seeking out their wisdom. For those who require physical, social and/or emotional support at this stage of life, may we serve and care for them well. Many have been such faithful donors, leaders and volunteers in churches and in the community. Weekly church attendance has been their lifelong habit and they are deeply missing the rhythms of church/community life throughout this pandemic as their health may prevent them from re-engaging in both community and connections with family. Help us to not ignore or forget them, even when we all struggle with similar concerns. We ask you to bless them God daily.

We pray for "Baby Boomers", the post WW2 generation, born between 1950-1965, ages 57- 72
For now, the largest group numerically, Baby Boomers saw rapid change in their world as large corporations and workplaces expanded, travel became easier, more women moved into the workforce, cities thrived and the shift began to move from rural to urban centres with more jobs and educational opportunities. Many boomers were given leadership positions in their late twenties in communities, churches and businesses. The suburbs grew, immigration increased, and churches moved out from the centre of cities. They lived through the "hippie" era of 'free love, drugs & rock 'n roll', civil unrest and protests, threats of nuclear conflicts, communism's rise and the Vietnam war. This demographic were the change agents, the "movers and shakers" in a rapidly changing world who even still do not easily let go of control of the power or influence. These opportunities also had a down side - they were often more materialistic, and measured themselves by success, possessions, leadership skills and progress. Many display high expectations of retirement years with travel, health, comfort and relaxation as rewards for their hard work. In churches, they wrestle somewhere between a fairly traditional past and newer forms of small groups, worship and missions. We pray for them as they are deeply concerned for their children and their childrens children that they may engage in an active faith experience as well as what they as Boomers could and should still contribute to making the world a better place because of their faith in you. Fresh wind, fresh fire is needed in their lives still.

For Busters/Gen Xers, those born between 1965-1980, ages 42 - 57... a generation in upheaval Members of this group, initially referred to as the “latchkey generation”, were often left unsupervised at home after school until both of their parents came home from work - a big cultural shift. Now in the middle of their working careers and potential peak-earning years, they are also becoming empty-nesters as their kids are growing up and leaving home....and coming back again. Divorce rates are climbing most in this age bracket. Gen Xers financial futures have often been compromised - first by the dotcom bust, then by the financial crisis of 2008, now by early job loss/retirement during the pandemic coupled with the need to support kids through post-secondary schooling and rising costs of housing. Gen Xers report being passed over for promotions for new jobs as workplaces are looking to hire for those in their late thirties, early forties or seeking greater diversity in gender and ethnicity. It is a challenging age. At this stage of life, they are also called "the sandwich generation" when, due to longer life spans and having children later in life, they find themselves supporting both aging parents and growing children simultaneously. Their church/faith experience has been busy with all the other competing responsibilities of family/work/technology changes - running to keep up. As they look ahead, much exponential change is still happening. Their world is increasingly mobile and many are starting again in new cities, new churches and new relationships as they seek connections into a growingly complex world with new skills to learn, new patterns of faith to discover and new opportunities to grow. Give them much joy and rootedness in their spiritual experiences and an openness to your Spirit working in them and through them.

We pray for Millenials/Gen Y/Mosaics (called by a number of 'names'), born between 1980-1995, ages 27-41
The children of previous generations of Gen Xers or Baby Boomers who worked so hard to get ahead, to take care of their kids and maybe even pampered themselves and their kids more, because they could. Millennials are characterized as confident, ambitious, information-hungry, social-media savvy and achievement oriented. What may appear to some as a self-centered life approach may be due to the great rise of individualism in society as a whole. They have higher expectations of their employers, tend to seek new challenges at work, and aren't afraid to question authority. They tend to be adventure/experience seekers who embrace or initiate change inspired by stories of those taking risks with start-up ideas - an interesting mix of loving entrepreneurial businesses/big box stores/and on-line shopping all at the same time! Millennials are generally more educated than past generations, more sceptical of organized religion. The Christian Church as an institution has been slow to adapt to those concerns and this age group began to leave the church at an earlier age. Both those within and those outside of church experiences tend to view 'church' as appearing both judgemental and hypocritical in a more negative "anti-light" - defined by what Christians are against, rather than what we are for. Sounds harsh. It is. We pray that they will both see and experience many positive examples of care, concern, and integrity that will surprise them with Jesus. This generation is not likely to consider churches as safe and hospitable places to work through their doubts and questions. Give us all much grace and humility to acknowledge this and learn how to do better - as we know spiritual and moral foundations are often established early in life. Guard these young people as they engage in the challenging years of juggling multiple work/family/independent living concerns in an unsettled world as they are often considered "nomads and prodigals" spiritually. May they find you God in their journeys, waiting and welcoming them with open arms.

We pray for Gen Z, those born between 1995- 2010, ages 12- 27
As we pray for them, maybe we should and invite the Spirit of God to shape our prayers around these observations. By far, this is the most diverse generation in history - racially, sexually and theologically. Because of that, they assume things like diversity and tolerance are a given. “Their goal is not simply economic security,” said Dr. James Emery White, author of Meet Generation Z. “They are marked by a strong sense of wanting to make a difference and thinking that they can. They want to be social entrepreneurs.” According to a recent Barna Research study "The Connected Generation" commissioned by World Vision Canada, (see resources below), Gen Z wants to orient their lives towards social justice causes. Growing up in this truly post-Christian world, this group usually spiritually identify themselves as “nones” rather than to a denominational or specific faith connection. The exodus from organized religion that began with Millennials has accelerated rapidly with Gen Z. They have no memory of the rich heritage of Christian faith or language than many of older generations have grown up with or lived. History and tradition often makes little sense to them. We as the Church still are somewhat slow to embrace change. But this is the first generation in any of our lifetimes in which Christians are a minority in our society. That is a huge problem for the Church and we need to be in much prayer as we face this missional challenge. God, help us to recognize that this generation still need all of us who came before them as they struggle with what "adulting", especially "spiritually adulting" looks like today. They need much resiliency to survive in todays' tumultuous world. Help us to be willing to come alongside of them, to listen humbly and encourage wisely, to reflect your steadfastness in the midst of chaos, to invest in what you God are desiring to do in and through their lives at this point, not only for their generation but also for the next and the one after that! They are "truth wrestlers" and want to get into healthy dialogue and debate. Inspire us God to faithfully, enthusiastically engage with them.

We pray for those born (or who will be born) between 2011 and 2025, they have already been branded “Generation Alpha” and the oldest are already 10 years old.
It’s not too early to be aware of the huge challenges for this nascent generation - particularly since it could prove, in the end, to be even more influential than the last. We need to bring them before you God now, as they are on course to become the largest generation in the history of the world. Globally, more than 2.5 million Alphas are born every week. By 2025 they will number nearly 2 billion. Think about the influences on their young lives already. None of them will ever remember a world without COVID-19. They will never know anything other than the constant use of iPads and smart phones. They've lost two years of relationship and social connection skill building and are desperately lonely. Their social world will know little outside of social media in video clips and two sentence explanations. They will have lived with anxiety and consequences surrounding climate change from their earliest awareness. In a deeply divided world, they will need to learn how tackle the deeply embedded consequences of racism. Gender is now 'fluid'. Leaders seem to be collectively untrustworthy. News is available in real time with multiple filters and hard to tell what is real or not, truthful or not. Far more than the generations preceding them, they hold an unprecedented sway over their parents' thinking. Their wants frequently drive family decisions, and they have more material things at their disposal than any generation in history. By 2030, just eight years from now, they’ll be moving into the workforce and adulthood. They are already, and will continue to be "digital natives" the most technologically savvy generation ever, they will likely experience a longer lifespan than any previous generation, they will probably spend more years in education (and may need to), they will begin their work lives later, and likely live with their parents even longer than their Gen Y and Gen Z predecessors. So many things to pray for them. Start now....and often.

In summary, no wonder that you God remind us that "from generation to generation" we need to turn to you.
What an amazing privilege to pray for each group. Here's the exciting thing - we are compelled once again to look at what faith could and might look like now as well as what church may look like in the future. That same thing happened in the time of Jesus here on earth when he turned the world upside-down. He did not come to make every generation happy with their past - He came so that we might know you God incarnated in human form and your righteousness here on earth - as it is in heaven. The words in Revelation 21:5 about the coming kingdom seem so true and should resonate in our heads "And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” It continues to happen already now through each generation.

There is an interesting new expression floating around, the "phygital' church, a clever combination of the physical church and the digital church, that may seem unimaginable to us in our previous paradigm, yet it may be also an unexpected opportunity. Church may no longer be "within these four walls of a building "- but wasn't that part of the point Jesus was making in his time? Because we, ordinary human beings of all ages and stages of life, are called to be "the church", God's representatives here in each new generation.

You created us for connection...this is a common thread through these prayers for each generation - connection with each other, connection in family, however those families look....most of all, for connection with you, our Creator God. In a world that is more linked with information than ever globally, at a single touch or with just a simple verbal command, in ways far greater than we could never have imagined, we are often lonelier than ever on a daily basis. A recent study done by a local Western professor highlighted this challenge for young people, 18-35 year olds specifically, who are very anxious. (read these studies below in the resources). We need each other. We align with them as followers of Jesus who desperately desire to make the world a better place. We should partner with them in our workplaces, schools, families, and community organizations to encourage, support, listen and work together in all sorts of ways. In Jesus, You offer to each of us answers to the deepest longing of our hearts. May we all find our home in you - our purpose, our hope. Luke 1 says "For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him."

Hear our prayers Lord for 2022. Hear our prayers. Amen.

If you want to explore and understand more, here are a few resources to consider if you are curious: 1. "UnChristian... what a new generation really thinks about Christianity ...and why it matters." by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Baker Books, 2007

2. "You lost me - why young Christians are leaving the church ...and rethinking Faith" by author David Kinnaman, Baker Books, 2011

3. "Leaving Christianity - changing Allegiances in Canada since 1945" Authors Brian Clarke and Stuart MacDonald McGill-Queens University Press, 2017

4. Barna Research study "The Connected Generation - next Steps" commissioned by World Vision in 2021 , see interviews with over 16,000 youth in 25 countries with over 1,000 of them in Canada

5. "The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill" podcast - produced by Christianity Today, hosted by Mike Cosper. It explores a cautionary tale using the difficult example of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, revealing tough questions about challenges of leadership, church and rebuilding faith while knowing both the amazing, life-transforming work of God and church as a dangerous, abusive environment. Many Gen Y and Z young people are listening to this as they seek to sort out their personal faith with God and thereby His church.

6. Local Western University study, see