A survey conducted online between June 5-9, 2017 by the Barna group poll shows that many Americans still rely on prayer as a means to communicate with God. The study shows that prayer is the most common faith practice among adults with 79% of the population engaging in prayer at least once in the past three months.
Here are some of the interesting things the study found:
82% of praying adults most often pray silently and by themselves. 13% pray audibly by themselves. And 2% pray audibly with another person or group or collectively with a church.
When asked what the content of their prayers were, 62% listed gratitude and thanksgiving, 61% listed the needs of family and community, 49% listed personal guidance in crisis, 47% for health and wellness, 43% for confession and forgiveness or things they suddenly felt the urge to pray about, 41% for safety in daily tasks or travel, 37% for a sense of peace and blessings for meals, 34% for specific requests from others, 24% about concerns in our nation or government, 20% about concerns over global problems or injustices, 12% about their sleep, and 8% reciting Scripture, meditations, or liturgies.
Elders are 30% more likely to pray for health and wellness than 38% of millennials, who reported doing so. Lower income earners, 52% (under $50,000) also pray this type of prayer more often than higher income earners, 42% (over $100,000). Those living in rural areas as opposed to more urban locations are more likely to pray for health, perhaps because access to medical services and gyms and health centers are not as easily accessible.
37% of prayers are for a sense of peace. Those with children under the age of eighteen are more likely to pray for a sense of peace, likely because raising children can feel rather chaotic at times. People who live in big cities are also more prone to pray this prayer (43%) over those who live in small, rural areas (29%).
Elders are more likely than their younger millennial counterparts to cover prayer requests from others. 27% of millennials said they actually follow through with praying for specific prayer requests from others, while 47% of elders said they cover requests from others.
24% of paying adults make it a point to pray about their concerns for the nation or government. When it comes to global problems or concerns, only 20%, or 1 in every 5 Americans pray specifically for these issues.
Millennials and parents with children under the age of 18 are most likely (both at 19%) to pray for sleep. Just 1% of elders are likely to pray for sleep, and 9% of adults with no children under the age of 18 pray for sleep.
Women are more likely than men to cover each category listed in the survey. Evangelicals are also most likely to be praying actively about each category. Evangelicals are especially prevalent to pray for the needs of their families and communities (89%), gratitude and thanksgiving (69%), and confession and forgiveness (77^%).
Though 89% of those surveyed direct their prayers to God, this does not mean that they are all praying to the same god – some do not even pray to a diety. No specific definition for God was given in the survey so the widespread meaning of the word usage could be very broad. “For instance,” the survey notes, “Only half of praying adults (50%) pray to Jesus, and less than one-quarter (23%) pray to the Holy Spirit.” 28% of those surveyed claimed to have no faith whatsoever.
Philippians 4:6 reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”