When Americans turn to divine intervention to solve their worldly problems, one in four say they believe God will actually answer their prayers. The findings were released in a survey conducted by LifeWay, a Nashville Christian retailer that sells books, music and movies. More than 1,100 Americans participated in the online survey that measured what people pray for, how often, and whether they believe their pleas will be answered.
“Most people pray when they need the red phone for help,” Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, said in a statement. “But their prayer life isn’t a habit rooted in a relationship with God.” As the Baptist Standard pointed out, people are rarely praying simply to praise God; they want something out of it. And many believe they are getting something:
The survey found most of people’s prayers are personal -- 82 percent of respondents said they typically pray for family or friends and 74 percent said they focus on their own problems. While the majority do not believe all their prayers are answered, 37 percent say their wishes are answered some of the time.
A few participants said they prayed for less pious reasons, such as good parking spots, that colleagues be fired, and to avoid being caught speeding. Sports teams and the lottery had more prayer support, 13 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
The latest survey highlights a growing trend involving religion’s role in American society.
A 2012 Pew research poll found more than 20 percent of U.S. adults do not identify with a particular religious denomination. However, two-thirds of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults say they believe in God. One in five said they prayed every day. More than a third identify as “spiritual” but not “religious.”
The LifeWay survey queried 1,137 online participants Aug. 7. The poll has an error rate of 2.9 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.