Nearly half of Americans pray every day, according to a survey released last week from LifeWay, a Christian retailer based in Nashville, TN. The online survey, which was conducted on August 7, included 1,137 Americans, and had a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.
Lifeway's findings aren't really surprising. Polls have consistently shown that plenty of Americans — more than half, according to a recent Pew poll — pray on a regular basis.
What is interesting about LifeWay's data is that it shows many Americans believe God answers their prayers. Among praying adults, 1 in 4 say God answers all their prayers, and 37 percent say God answers some of them. Only 3 percent of those who pray think God answers none of them.
Religious people aren't the only ones praying. A Pew study from 2013 found that more than 1 in 5 religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," said they pray daily.
This trend is particularly evident among Millennials, as I recently reported. According to a study out earlier this year from Carnegie Mellon University's Integrated Innovation Institute, while only 52 percent of Millennials look to religion for guidance, 62 percent of them say they talk privately to God. This suggests that Millennials aren't giving up on God — more of them are just cutting out the middleman and going straight to God with their prayers.
As for what Americans are praying for, LifeWay reports that 74 percent pray for their own needs and difficulties, and 42 percent pray for "my own sin." The study also found that Americans are generous with their prayers: 82 percent pray for friends and family, and 38 percent pray for those who've experienced natural disasters. People who pray seem less concerned with praying for politicians (12 percent) and celebrities (5 percent).
Respondents also said they'd prayed for a parking spot (7 percent), to not get caught speeding (7 percent), their favorite team to win a game (13 percent), and to win the lottery (21 percent).
The reports also shows a class divide in prayer habits, as Christianity Today reports:
One-quarter of respondents with an annual income higher than $150,000 pray for "bad things to happen to bad people," while only around 8 percent of respondents making less than $50,000 said they would do so. And nearly one in five Americans with incomes over $150,000 have prayed for someone to get fired; in contrast, only 1 in 20 Americans who make between $75,000 and $149,000 and only one in 100 Americans who make less than $30,000 say they have prayed the same.
These findings seem to support the theory that an "empathy gap" exists between the rich and the poor.