Younger adults are more likely to pray than older generations, according to a survey for the Church of England published today showing that nearly half of UK adults report having ever offered up some form of prayer.
A majority of 18 to 34 year olds – 56% – say they have ever prayed, with a third (32%) reporting that they have prayed in the last month.
By contrast, a minority in the 55+ age group said they had ever prayed – at 41% – with 25% saying they had prayed in the last month.
The Savanta ComRes survey of 2,073 UK adults showed that overall nearly half (48%) said they had ever prayed with just over a quarter (28%) saying they have prayed in the last month.
Among those who had ever prayed, the most common topics prayed about were for friends and family (69%), people they know who are sick (54%) and to give thanks (51%).
The Revd Dr Stephen Hance, National Lead for Evangelism and Witness for the Church of England, said: “These findings really challenge the all-too-common assumption that young people are not interested in faith or spiritual things.
“In fact they show us that – more than simply being interested in spirituality – they are already exploring it in practice, to a greater extent than their elders.
“In an age when mindfulness and meditation are more popular than ever, prayer makes sense to people.
“And with pressures mounting and people of every generation facing huge uncertainty, many people of all ages are drawing strength from God in prayer.
“This also confirms what other research has told us, that while younger people may be under-represented in church, this isn’t indicative of a lack of interest in faith.
“That’s why the Church of England has made engaging young people one of our top priorities for the decade.”
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said prayer can transform lives and bring peace in a troubled world.
“As Christians, prayer is the bedrock of our faith and deepens our relationship and understanding of God,” he said.
“The results of the commissioned Savanta ComRes survey on prayer show us that many people still long for that connection with something and someone beyond themselves.
“At this time of uncertainty in our world where we face many pressing issues such as the climate emergency, wars, famine, the cost of living, reaching out in prayer to the God who loves us and longs to be known to us can bring peace and transform lives.
“As a church we need to be a community of women and men who follow Jesus and offer spaces where the many people growing up in our world today who do not yet know Christ – can learn and receive from him and follow in his way, growing ever closer to God through daily prayer and reading of the scriptures.
“If younger people want to pray, then let our churches be places where prayer is taught and experienced.”
The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, a former university chaplain and a priest in inner city Liverpool, co-wrote the book The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook with her son.
Commenting on the survey, she said younger people often had fewer preconceptions about the Christian faith.
“People of my generation and above were often brought up in a culture that taught them there was a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to pray, meaning that they can be very self-conscious about their prayer life and spirituality,” she said.
“In my experience today’s young adults have been brought up to be comfortable with questions and experimentation: they know lots of people around the world do pray, and are willing to give it a go for themselves.”
- Savanta ComRes surveyed 2,073 UK adults aged 18+ online between 1st and 3rd July 2022.
- Data were weighted to be representative of the UK population by age, gender, region and social grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
- Data tables can be found at https://comresglobal.com/polls/church-of-england-polling-on-prayer/