Prayer by the Numbers

Have you ever noticed how every day we begin our day with some kind of number? “Oh no! It’s 7:00 and I’m late for work!” or “Do I have time for 1 more cup of coffee?” or “What is the temperature outside? 29*!” maybe even “There must be a 1,000,000,000 (million) cars on the road today!” Even if you aren’t one of the people who start their day in these examples, you have some numeric tool that you use in your head to measure your day. Maybe you think about the date (2/6/2011) or your paycheck (???) or the bills you need to pay or the temperature you need to set the oven to so you can cook dinner. Somewhere there is a number.

We are also -each 1 of us – somewhere in the numbers below. I just wonder if the pollsters were asking the right questions. Should the question be, “How much faith do I have?” or simply “Do I believe God?” I don’t know, guess the question matters on what you are wanting to actually measure.

According to a poll on prayer for Newsweek (3/31/97), the following percentage of people said:

They ask for health or success for a child or family member when they pray — 82
They ask for strength to overcome a personal weakness — 75
They never ask for financial or career success — 36
God answers prayers — 87
God doesn’t answer prayers — 51
They believe God does not play favorites in answering prayers — 82
God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease — 79
Prayers for help in finding a job are answered — 73
They believe that when God doesn’t answer their prayers, it means it wasn’t God’s will to answer — 54
They don’t turn away from God when prayers go unanswered — 82
Surveys of U.S. adults and teenagers by Barna Research Ltd. from 1991–2001 revealed the following statistics about people’s prayer habits:

Who prays?

  • 82% of adults and 89% of teenagers pray in a normal week.
  • 88% of women and 75% of men pray in a typical week.
  • People living in the South and Midwest pray more than those living in the West and Northeast (around 86% to 76%, respectively).
  • 96% of born-again Christians pray weekly, while 72% of people not describing themselves as born-again pray on a weekly basis.

What do people pray about?

  • 95% of adults thank God for what he has done in their lives.
  • 76% ask for forgiveness for specific sins.
  • 67% spend time in prayer worshiping God by praising his superior attributes.
  • 61% ask for help for specific needs.
  • 47% are silent during prayer to listen for God.

What do people believe?

  • 89% of adults believe “there is a God who watches over you and answers your prayers.”
  • 82% of people believe that prayer can change what happens in a person’s life.

When and how much do people pray?

  • An average prayer lasts just under five minutes.
  • 52% of people who pray do so several times a day.
  • 37% of people say they pray once a day.
  • 33% of adults regularly participate in a prayer group or prayer-focused meeting.
  • 21% have extended prayer time with other family members (25% among Protestants and 13% among Catholics).


A May 2004 study of 31,000 adults by the National Center for Health Statistics and NCCAM found that:

  • 45% had used prayer for health reasons.
  • 43% had prayed for their own health.
  • Almost 25% had others pray for them.
  • Almost 10% had participated in a prayer group for their health.
  • Almost 62% had used prayer when it was included in the definition of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine)

And a study of 10,000 people the by National Center for Health Statistics found that:

  • Prayer was the therapy most commonly used among all the CAM therapies included in the survey.
  • Other CAM approaches with a spiritual component included meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and Reiki.

According to a 1996 Gallup Poll for the Princeton Religion Research Center:

  • Fully half of Americans said that they pray or meditate in private on a daily basis.
  • An additional 18% reported doing so several times a week.

Of those who engage in this prayer or meditation:

  • 64% “sit quietly and just think about God.”
  • 44% “meditate or try to get in touch with God or a higher power.”
  • 16% “sit quietly and meditate using a secular meditation practice.”
  • 9% “use an eastern meditation practice.”

“16 Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


3 thoughts on “Prayer by the Numbers

  1. Pingback: Continue in Prayer « Walking in the Wilderness

  2. Pingback: Prayer Needed « Walking in the Wilderness

  3. Pingback: A Valentine’s Day Prayer for Families & all those we love « Walking in the Wilderness

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