More Brits turning to prayer during coronavirus lockdown: survey

Big Ben
The Union flag flies in front of the Clock face on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019, in London, England. |

More people are now praying in the U.K. following the government's widespread lockdown orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey released by the charity Tearfund reveals.

According to a Savanta ComRes poll of over 2,100 U.K. adults surveyed April 24-27, some 44% of respondents said they pray. And one in 20 people reported starting the habit of prayer for the first time during the lockdown.

The survey, commissioned by Tearfund, also found that one in five respondents had asked someone else to "say a prayer" since the social distancing measures were implemented. And one in five said "they have read a religious text during lockdown."

"It is encouraging to see the number of people in the U.K. praying during such a challenging time, said Ruth Valerio, global advocacy and influencing director at Tearfund in a statement. "Our experience at Tearfund is that prayer and practical action go hand in hand, and are both crucial ways of responding. With COVID-19 rates continuing to rise around the world, we are calling more people to pray and take action."

More than half of those surveyed (53%) said they prayed for family members, and 27% said they prayed for those working on the front lines. One in five (20%) said they specifically prayed for someone who had contracted COVID-19. Approximately one-sixth of those who prayed said say they have prayed for other countries dealing with the coronavirus.

"Among those who pray, two thirds (66%) say they agree that God hears their prayers and over half (56%) say they agree that prayer changes the world. Half of those who pray (51%) agree that they’ve witnessed answers to their own prayers and over two fifths (43%) agree that their prayer changes the lives of people living in poverty in developing countries," the survey noted. 

The survey also found that 45% of respondents said they pray because they "believe in God," and "a third (33%) believe that prayer makes a difference." Others, some 26%, said they pray during a crisis, and 24% said they pray "to gain comfort or to feel less lonely."

Some 25% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they had prayed about the U.K. government's response to the new coronavirus, which was more than any other age group surveyed. And men were more likely than women to have "watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown."

The U.K. Sunday Times reported Wednesday that Britain now has the highest reported death rate of all European nations, with a death toll of 29,427 compared to Italy's reported death toll of 29,315 as of Tuesday night.

"[F]igures from the Office for National Statistics showed 29,710 deaths involving COVID-19 had been registered in England and Wales up to May 2. Those figures are based on death certificates, and include deaths where a doctor is confident the virus was involved, but no test was carried out. The equivalent numbers for Scotland were 2,272 registered up to April 26, and in Northern Ireland 393 registered up to April 29. That would give a total of 32,375 across the U.K.," The U.K. Sunday Times reports. 

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among the most prominent, visible people to be afflicted with the sickness, nearly dying from it last month as he was hospitalized and put into intensive care but was not intubated, NBC reported

Johnson, who called his experience "a tough old moment" reportedly came so close to dying that doctors were making preparations to announce his death.

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