Half of UK adults say that they pray

ONE in two adults (51 per cent) in the UK pray, according to a new nationwide poll of 2,069 UK adults by ComRes for Christian relief & development agency Tearfund. Even among those that say they are not religious, one in five (20 per cent) say that they pray suggesting that prayer is still important to many people.

Among those who pray, over half (55 per cent) say that they are most likely to pray in a crisis. The next most common reasons cited by those who pray is because they believe in God (39 per cent), or because they believe that prayer makes a difference (32 per cent).

When it comes to the most popular topics of prayer among the 27 million of UK adults who say they pray, family (71 per cent) leads the way, followed by thanking God (42 per cent), praying for healing (40 per cent) and friends (40 per cent). Worldwide issues, such as praying for global poverty or natural disasters, rank seventh on the list (24 per cent), highlighting the challenge for Tearfund to encourage more people to pray for issues of extreme poverty.

In line with the trend towards a fast-paced lifestyle, praying has become incorporated into people’s daily routine with significant proportions now praying on the go, whether that’s while travelling (15 per cent of those who pray), doing household activities like cooking (20 per cent) or doing leisure activities such as exercising (12 per cent). Despite this, a third (33 per cent) of those who pray still do so at a place of worship, such as a church, and a third (33 per cent) pray on waking or before going to sleep.

The new findings on prayer reveal a strong belief in the power of prayer to bring about positive change. Among those who pray, half (49 per cent) agree that God hears their prayers and two in five (39 per cent) agree that prayer changes the world. Praying also makes people feel better, with those who do so most likely to say they feel reassured or hopeful after having prayed (40 per cent say this).

Dr. Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund says: “It is encouraging to see that prayer is such an important part of life for many people in the UK. Whilst it is often easier to pray for issues closer to home, we want to encourage people to continue to engage with global issues and pray for an end to extreme poverty.”

Other findings from poll include:

  • One in five (20 per cent) of UK adults say they pray regularly (at least once a month).
  • Women are more likely to say they ever pray compared with men (56 per cent vs 46 per cent).
  • The youngest and oldest are most inclined to pray for worldwide issues. Among those who pray: a quarter (24 per cent) say they pray about worldwide problems, rising to 31 per cent amongst 18-24 year-olds, 30 per cent of 65-74 year olds and 31 per cent of over 75 year olds.
  • Among those who say they have ever prayed, but have no religious affiliation their top reasons for praying were: in times of personal crisis or tragedy (55 per cent), on the off chance that something could change (32 per cent), as a last resort (24 per cent), or to gain comfort or feel less lonely (23 per cent).