Survey Finds Most Americans Pray When They Need Help, Rarely Praise God’s Greatness

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Americans pray for their friends, families and sometimes their enemies. They ask for divine help in times of trouble but rarely praise God’s greatness. And they seldom add politicians, nonbelievers or even their favorite sports team to their prayer lists, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

“Most people pray when they need the red phone for help,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But their prayer life isn’t a habit rooted in a relationship with God.”

The online survey asked 1,137 Americans about the frequency and content of their prayers.

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Among the findings:

• Most prayers are personal.

When they pray, most Americans (82 percent) typically focus on their friends and family or their own problems (74 percent). Just over half (54 percent) pray about good things happening in their life, while more than a third pray for their future prosperity (36 percent).

• Prayer works for almost everybody.

Most Americans who pray (83 percent) think at least some of their prayers are answered. That includes one in four (25 percent) who say all their prayers are answered, one in five (21 percent) who say most of their prayers are answered, and more than one in three (37 percent) who say some of their prayers are answered.

Few (3 percent) say none of their prayers are answered. One in seven (14 percent) “don’t know” if prayers are answered.

• Politicians don’t have a prayer. Neither do parking spots.

Only about 12 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for government officials, while few (5 percent) pray for celebrities. Some Americans also have prayed for parking spots (7 percent), for other people to be fired (5 percent), or to avoid being caught speeding (7 percent).

Sports teams have received a bit more prayer support (13 percent), while about one in five (21 percent) Americans who pray say they have prayed to win the lottery. Fifteen percent have prayed something bad they did will not be discovered.

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SOURCE: The Baptist Standard
Bob Smietana, Lifeway Christian Resources

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