Science & Society
Some do it on their knees, and others require beads. Some need a pew in a church, while for others the location makes no difference whatsoever. Whatever the form it takes, prayer is an essential part of most of the world's religions and has been through the ages. U.S. News teamed up with the Internet site Beliefnet on a survey to learn more about why, how, where, and when people devote time to this solemn act. Here is a summary of the more than 5,600 responses to the survey.
75.6 percent of those who responded are Christian.
64 percent say that they pray more than once a day.
65.1 percent say that when their prayers relate to health, they pray about mental health or depression.
56 percent say that they most often pray for family members.
3.3 percent say that they pray for strangers.
38.3 percent say that the most important purpose of prayer is intimacy with God.
41.2 percent say that their prayers are answered often.
1.5 percent say that their prayers are never answered.
73.9 percent say that when their prayers are not answered, the most important reason is because they did not fit into God's plan.
5.1 percent said that they pray most often in a house of worship.
79.4 percent say that they pray most often at home.
67 percent say that in the past six months, their prayers have related to giving thanks to God all the time.
" I was scheduled to have open-heart surgery for three blocked arteries in my heart. Friends and family prayed, and the next morning my doctor said my heart's arteries were as clear as a teenager's! "
" My car had been running hot for months. I prayed that it would mysteriously fix itself since I could not afford to. A couple of days later, my car just all of a sudden stopped running hot and has been working fine since. "
" Yahweh answered my prayers for a good relationship with my former stepson. It was a fantastic change! "
" I once prayed that a former best friend and his wife would get divorced after they played a significant part in the escalation of my marital problems that led to my divorce. I wanted God to let them see how it felt. I prayed for this over and over, and it happened. "
" My daughter was healed of all the results from a traumatic birth that was expected to kill her or leave her severely disabled. She has no disabilities at all. "
" When my son returned safely from Baghdad, I promised our Lord to have a candle lit for a year. Another time, my pet chicken was mauled by a dog, and I went down on my knees in the yard and prayed for her life. My prayers were answered. "
This story appears in the December 20, 2004 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.