Prayer and Numbers That May Surprise You

May 3rd is National Day of Prayer here in the U.S. For me, every day is a day of prayer. And I’m not alone. Not by a long shot.

In Michigan, 56% pray at least once a day and 76% pray at least once a week according to the 2008 Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey. And in the U.S. as a whole the numbers are about the same: 58% daily and 75% weekly.

Now let’s do a little math here to make this more meaningful. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Michigan’s population is just under 10 million. Which means that over 5.5 million of us in Michigan pray at least once a day, and over 7.5 million of us in Michigan pray at least once a week. And nationally, with over 308 million this translates into 178 million daily and 232 million weekly.

This is even more significant when considering that almost half (49%) of all adults in the U.S. said in 2007 that they had prayed about their health. This according to a report published in 2011 by The American Psychological Association entitled National Trends in Prayer Use as a Coping Mechanism for Health.

And in “Does God answer prayer? ASU research says ‘yes’ ” in the Arizona State University News, Assistant Professor David Hodge describes clinical studies researching the effectiveness of prayer this way: “Some have found positive results for prayer. Others have found no effect. Conducting a meta-analysis takes into account the entire body of empirical research on intercessory prayer. Using this procedure, we find that prayer offered on behalf of another yields positive results.

I have found that praying for oneself also yields positive results. And millions of us are praying frequently!

There are different forms of prayer: for example, petition–asking the divine for help, affirmation–knowing and affirming God’s goodness and our nature derived from Him, and spiritual realization–getting past self and feeling a strong connection with the divine.

Prayer is more than a recitation or repetition of a set of words, although I find that this sometimes helps me get started when praying. Prayer is listening to the divine. Prayer is communication. I like to talk with God in the first-person in silent prayer to feel His closeness. And I try to remember that I need to listen at least as much as I talk — still working on that!

My prayers include understanding the nature of God and his perfection and goodness with an accompanying recognition that all of us, as His children, are actually spiritual beings that exhibit His wonderful nature, His perfection, health, intelligence, and love.

I ask Him for wisdom, safety, and peace. I affirm my God-given abilities, freedom, health and happiness. I thank Him for the good that has come my way. I strive to realize that we are all WITH HIM and LIKE HIM. I listen for inspiration. And most importantly, I strive to feel a connection to God in which I feel His love and care for me and for everyone.

It’s not all about the numbers.

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2 thoughts on “Prayer and Numbers That May Surprise You”

  1. The article you cite actually says that the meta-analysis of all 17 studies showed only 7 studies that had a small but significant effect. The other 10 found no effect. The article concluded that it shouldn’t be considered an effective treatment. The quote you included was only of the meta-analysis of the tests that provided positive results.

  2. Response to W. Quine:
    Thank you for joining the conversation. While the meta-analysis is not deemed sufficient evidence by the American Psychological Association to recommend prayer as a standard treatment for depression, please also consider that in the article cited, the conclusion begins with this statement: “Overall, the meta-analysis indicates that prayer is effective.”

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