Area: 543,965 sq km
The largest country in Western Europe.
Population: 62,636,580 Annual Growth: 0.53%
Official language: French. Regional languages in decline. French is the first language of 136 million people worldwide Languages: 62 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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The accelerating decline of religious faith since the 18th Century has seen Frances Catholic and mainline Protestant legacies plummet in recent years, even as atheism has grown. Hostility toward organized religion as well as the privatization of spirituality mean that regular attendance in any church is below 8%. Some surveys show that over 30% of French people are non-religious. Most French have a profound ignorance of, or indifference to, the gospel, many having never meaningfully encountered it. Yet, the relativism of postmodernity has generated acute emptiness and existential angst; as many have noted, this in turn has created a spiritual hunger that has grown rapidly in recent years. Pray that such hunger might overcome the suspicion toward religion. Pray that Christians would be prepared to patiently and relationally share Jesus with those who seek.
The Catholic Church has lost much of its influence in society, a process accelerating since the 1980s. In 2005, only 150 men in France completed training for the priesthood. Recent polls suggest as few as 51% of French self-identify as Catholic but this still constitutes a majority of the population. Tensions exist among conservative traditionalists, liberals, modernists, radicals and charismatics; the traditionalists (opposed to the liberalizing Vatican II changes) and charismatics are the most vigorous wings of the Church today. Such rapid decline has removed from Catholicism much of the meaningless ritual and paternalism and has taught humility. The Alpha Course is widely used in Catholic parishes. Pray for these changes to bring gospel light and life to French Catholicism.
For an additional 12 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of France.