For many non-believers, it is an instinctive response to a crisis: “Please, God.” So perhaps it should not be surprising that a new survey has found that one in five adults pray despite saying they are not religious.
Just over half of all adults in the UK pray, and they are increasingly likely to call on God while engaged in activities such as cooking or exercising, according to the poll. Although one in three people pray in a place of worship, and a third pray before going to sleep or on waking, others combine prayer with daily activities. One in five pray while doing household chores or cooking, 15% pray while travelling, and 12% pray during exercise or other leisure pursuits.
Just under half of those who pray said they believed God hears their prayers, which suggests a slim majority feel their supplications are not answered. Four in ten go further, saying prayer changes the world; a similar number say it makes them feel better.
Family tops the list of subjects of prayers at 71%, followed by thanking God (42%), praying for healing (40%) and for friends (40%). Way down on the list comes global issues such as poverty or disasters, at 24%, according to the poll carried out by ComRes on behalf of the Christian aid agency, Tearfund.
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