Nearly Half of Americans Say They Pray Before Meals: Poll

(Photo: Reuters)Family prays before a meal.

About half of all Americans say a prayer over their food at least a few times a week which is an unusual commonality in a politically divided nation, according to a new poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Rural and urban Americans, Northerners and Southerners, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans, all say grace, though to varying degrees, reveals the poll, which was conducted April 13 to May 1 among a random sample of 1,686 American adults.

Even some Americans who reject organized religion still say grace, the study shows.

"It's a powerful way of reminding yourself that you are not self-sufficient, that you are living by somebody's grace, that plenty of other people who work just as hard as you don't have anything to eat," Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, told The Washington Post.

The poll finds that 48 percent of all Americans say a prayer before meals at least a few times each week. Fifty-one percent say grace in both rural and urban America. In the suburbs, 45 percent pray before meals regularly.

The study also shows that 62 percent of Republicans say grace at least a few times a week, but the percentage decreases to 43 among Democrats and 41 among independents.

About 60 percent of Protestants say grace a few times a week or more, as do 52 percent of Catholics, the poll adds.

The percentage increases to 80 among black Protestants and 74 among white evangelical Protestants.

However, only 31 percent of white Mainline or nonevangelical Protestants report saying grace frequently before meals.

Overall, about 8 in 10 blacks, about 6 in 10 Hispanics and about 4 in 10 whites say grace at least a few times each week.

A study published in the journal Sage Open last year said the number of Americans who pray or say they believe in God hit "an all-time low" in 2014.

That study said that in 2014 five times as many Americans reported that they never prayed when compared with Americans in the early 1980s. Nearly twice as many over the same period also said they did not believe in God.

Even though surveys have found there to be a rise in individuals who don't identify with a particular religion or denomination ("nones") and a decline in church membership for many Mainline denominations, many believe that those results don't mean that religion is on its deathbed or that atheism is on the rise.

J. Gordon Melton, professor of American religious history, noted in 2015 that although Mainline denominations have lost membership in recent years, the number of denominations in America has increased steadily since the 1960s.