One in two adults (51%) in the United Kingdom pray, according to a new nationwide poll of 2,069 people. The research commissioned by relief and development agency Tearfund says that even among people who say they are not religious, one in five (20%) say they pray.

More than half (55%) say they are likely to pray while in a crisis. Other common reasons are belief in God (39%) or belief that prayer makes a difference (32%).

People in a fast-paced culture find ways to incorporate prayer into their daily routines, too. Significant proportions pray on the go, whether while traveling (15% of those who pray), doing household chores like cooking (20%), or during activities such as exercising (12%). Despite this, a third (33%) still do so at a place of worship, and a third (33%) pray on waking or before going to sleep.

Those who pray expressed strong belief in the power of prayer to improve circumstances. Half (49%) agree that God hears their prayers and two in five (39%) agree that prayer affects the world. Praying also makes people feel better, and nearly half say they feel reassured or hopeful after praying (40%).

“It is encouraging to see that prayer is such an important part of life for many people in the U.K., said Ruth Valerio, Tearfund’s global advocacy and influencing director. “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.”

Among other findings from poll:

  • One in five (20%) adults say they pray regularly (at least once a month).
  • While 51 percent of adults pray, far fewer attend church; 33 percent do so at least once a year, and 9 percent do so regularly (at least once per month)
  • Women are more likely to say they pray compared with men (56% vs 46%).
  • Among those who say they have ever prayed, but have no religious affiliation, their top reason for praying was personal crisis or tragedy (55%).

John Martin

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