LEICESTER, United Kingdom – More Brits are turning to prayer during the coronavirus lockdown, and nearly a quarter of people in the United Kingdom have watched or listened to a religious service since the lockdown began.
According to a poll commissioned by Tearfund, a UK-based Christian international relief and development agency, one in twenty British adults say they have started praying during the lockdown, when they did not pray before.
When the lockdown began March 23, houses of worship were closed to the public in the UK, and many religions began conducting services through online streaming or over radio and television.
According to the poll, which was conducted by the London-based research firm Savanta ComRes, 24 percent of UK adults say they have watched or listened to a religious service during the lockdown, with 76 percent of regular churchgoers participating online. Five percent of those watching or listening to services have never gone to church.
Other findings of the Tearfund poll include:
— A quarter of UK adults (26 percent) say they pray regularly (at least once a month).
— Among those who pray, nearly half (45 percent) say that they prayed since the lockdown because they believe in God, a third believe that prayer makes a difference (33 percent), a quarter (26 percent) say that they prayed in times of personal crisis or tragedy and a quarter (24 percent) say they have prayed to gain comfort or to feel less lonely.
— A quarter (25 percent) of those aged 18-24 who pray say that since the COVID-19 lockdown they have prayed about the UK government’s response to COVID-19, this exceeds all other age groups (15 percent for those aged 25-64 and 23 percent for those aged 65+).
— Men are significantly more likely than women to say they have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown (on the radio, live on TV, on demand or streamed online) (28 percent vs. 21 percent respectively).
— Since lockdown, one in five (18 percent) of UK adults have asked someone else to say a prayer and one in five (19 percent) UK adults say they have read a religious text during lockdown.
— Top five things to pray about during lockdown among UK adults who pray are: Family (53 percent), friends (34 percent), thanking God (34 percent), yourself (28 percent) and the frontline services (27 percent).
“It is encouraging to see the number of people in the UK praying during such a challenging time. Our experience at Tearfund is that prayer and practical action go hand-in-hand, and are both crucial ways of responding. With COVID-19 rates continuing to rise around the world, we are calling more people to pray and take action,” said Dr. Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund.
The poll found that, among those who prayer, 66 percent say they agree that God hears their prayers and 56 percent say they agree that prayer changes the world.
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome