15 January 2018, The Tablet

Can I pray if I don't believe? New research suggests thousands do

by Will Moffitt

A new survey has shown that many thousands of people still pray, even some who are non-religious

Can I pray if I don't believe? New research suggests thousands do

Half of the adults in the UK engage in some form of prayer, a new survey has revealed. A poll conducted by ComRes for Christian relief and development agency Tearfund surveyed 2,069 adults in UK, and found that that even for less religious people, prayer still played an important role in their lives.

One in five of "non-believers" said that they still pray at least once a month.

The survey came as Pope Francis spoke about the importance of prayer in his latest Angelus. He said: "The life of faith consists in the desire to be with the Lord, and therefore in a continuous search for the place where he lives. This means that we are called to overcome an habitual and obvious religiosity, reviving the encounter with Jesus in prayer, in meditation on the Word of God and in the attendance to the Sacraments, to be with Him and bear fruit thanks to Him, to His help, to his grace."


ABC prayerResearchers found that more than half of those engaged in prayer said that they are most likely to pray in a crisis. The next most popular reasons cited were a belief in God (39 per cent), or a belief that prayer made a difference to daily life (32 per cent).

Among the 27 million adults who pray, the most popular topics were family (71 per cent), 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, ranked seventh on the list (24 per cent), highlighting the challenge for Tearfund to encourage more people to pray for issues of extreme poverty.   

Dr. Ruth Valerio, Tearfund's global advocacy and influencing director, said that while it is encouraging to see prayer playing an influential role in peoples' lives, citizens should also be encouraged to “engage with global issues and pray for an end to extreme poverty”.

Tearfund has published the findings as the charity approaches its 50th anniversary.

Valerio said: “As part of our anniversary we’ve set a goal to see one million prayers raised this year to help end extreme poverty. We are inviting our supporters to join with us.”

Also to mark the anniversary, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written a new prayer (pictured) beginning: "Gracious and generous God, you became poor so that we might be enriched by your love."


 (Top photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.)

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