More Turn to Prayers, Church Advice Amid Financial Woes

With the British Chambers of Commerce reporting that the United Kingdom has already entered a recession and may face a prolonged downturn, many people are looking for divine intervention as they turn to prayers.

The Church of England has seen higher traffic on its website in recent weeks, particularly on its "prayers for today" and debt advice sections.

"Prayer for the Current Financial Situation," which asks God to "be a tower of strength" and to help people receive His "gift of peace," has received some 8,000 hits and has raised traffic to the church's site by 28 percent. And with more people turning to God for help rather than consulting debt advisers, the church's debt advice web page has seen a 71 percent increase in visitors.

The website offers guides, "common sense advice" and "helpful Bible quotations" to help people assess their personal financial situation and address their money problems along with stress. It also offers advice to churches that want to develop debt ministry and articles on how the Church of England has been speaking to the issues surrounding the credit crunch and household debt.

"Lord God, your will is to bring hope and a future to all your people. Trusting in your steadfast love, we ask your guidance as we work out a household budget. Help us to learn to let no debt remain outstanding, except the debt to love one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen," states one of several prayers on the website.

John Preston, the Church of England's national steward, who wrote the debt advice, said he was "delighted" the content was resonating with people, according to Agence France-Presse.

"I think that people aren't necessarily going online to seek religion, but as they are browsing, their thoughts turn to it," he noted. "We know that many people do pray, but things are made so accessible by having it online. Instead of having to go somewhere, and find something, we just provide some words that people can go through wherever they are."

This week, the International Monetary Fund issued a warning that the unemployment rate in Britain will rise from 5.4 percent to 6.0 percent and that the world economy "is entering a major downturn in the face of the most dangerous financial shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s," according to its latest World Economic Outlook.

However, the IMF expects Britain to bounce back strongly in 2010.

Meanwhile, in the United States, stocks continue to tumble as the country is likely sliding into recession.

President Bush is scheduled to make a statement on the economy on Friday to calm the crisis.

"He will assure the American people that they should be confident that economic officials are aggressively taking every action to stabilize our financial system," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "The Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC all have the necessary tools to address the problems we are facing."