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Most Americans Still Pray, Barna Finds

Majority of prayers are silent and solitary

Influence Magazine on August 25, 2017

Even as the United States becomes increasingly secular, most Americans still practice some form of prayer, according to a recent Barna report.

Nearly 8 in 10 American adults (79 percent) surveyed said they had prayed at least once in the past three months, Barna said. Of those who pray, a vast majority are most likely to do so alone (94 percent) and silently (82 percent).

Gratitude and thanksgiving are the most common prayer themes (62 percent), followed by requests regarding family and community needs (61 percent); guidance in crises (49 percent); health and wellness (47 percent); and forgiveness (43 percent).

Baby Boomers were more likely to offer thanksgiving than Millennials (71 percent vs. 53 percent). Boomers were also more likely to pray for health and wellness than Millennials (68 percent vs. 38 percent).

Most respondents (89 percent) said they address their prayers to “God,” while 50 percent pray to Jesus.

Gratitude and thanksgiving are the most common prayer themes.

Some 28 percent of those who claim no faith said they pray to a higher power that they do not associate with a specific religion, as do 25 percent of those who don’t self-identify as Christian and 15 percent of adherents to other faiths.

“Prayer is by far the most common spiritual practice among Americans,” Roxanne Stone, Barna’s editor in chief, says in the report. “The vast majority of Americans — no matter their religious affiliation or non-affiliation — participate in some kind of prayer activity.”

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