Media Centre

Four out of five believe in the power of prayer

Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer, according to a new ICM survey in the run-up to Easter. Holy Week and Easter are the most important period in the Christian calendar, marking the last days of Jesus' ministry, his death on the Cross and resurrection to new life.

Three in every ten people, asked what they would pray for, cited peace in the world and an end to poverty, reflecting the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, in his inauguration sermon, last week. Archbishop Justin said: "Let us provoke each other to heed the call of Christ, to be clear in our declaration of Christ, committed in prayer to Christ, and we will see a world transformed."

Asked what it would be for if they were to pray, 31 per cent of respondents cited peace in the world, followed by an end to poverty in the world (27 per cent), a family member (26 per cent) and healing for another (22 per cent). While 5 per cent said they did not know what they would pray for, 14 per cent said they would never pray.

Women are more likely to pray than men, according to the survey, with 85 per cent of women citing something they would pray for, compared with 76 per cent of men. Those aged over 65 (89 per cent) and those between 18 and 24 (85 per cent) are the most likely to pray, while those between 35 and 40 (75 per cent) are the least likely.

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith said:

"Prayer is one of the most natural and instinctive of human responses, so I am not surprised to see these findings. I come across people on an almost daily basis who want to talk about prayer and how to do it. This has been even more evident recently, as many people are facing uncertainty about jobs and finance. However, there has also been a desire to pray for trouble spots in the world, not least when we see the appalling photos from Syria on the television."

Holy Week is the period in the Church calendar when we remember, amongst other key moments in the last days of his life, Jesus being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, after spending time praying for himself, his disciples and all believers (John 17), and praying in the garden about the enormous task ahead of him, while His disciples fell asleep (Matthew 26:36-46).

Other subjects for prayer cited in the survey were: 'my partner' (17%), 'less stress in my life' (16%), 'a prayer of thankfulness' (16%), 'prosperity' (16%), 'healing for myself' (15%), 'guidance' (15%), 'a friend' (13%), 'marriage or relationship' (12%), 'forgiveness' (10%), 'work' (9%), 'my spiritual life' (8%), 'my church' (4%), 'my studies' (3%), 'something else' (6%).

Anyone wishing to have their prayers prayed through by church groups and prayer communities across the Church of England can post them on Pray One For Me, a Church of England website launched on Ash Wednesday 2012. The site has seen more than 1,150 prayers posted in its first year. The website www.prayoneforme.org, and its accompanying Facebook page at www.facebook.com/prayoneforme, include guidance on how to pray, and information on the people who hold the contributions before God in prayer.

Notes

The online survey of 2,015 adults in England, Scotland and Wales, commissioned by the Church of England, was conducted between 13th and 14th March 2013 by ICM Research.

The question asked was: "Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, what would it be for? Full results of the survey.