Russell Brand on the spike in google searches for 'prayer': People are looking for a 'sacred experience'

British comedian Russell Brand performs at his Messiah Complex show at Brixton Academy in London March 9, 2014.
British comedian Russell Brand performs at his Messiah Complex show at Brixton Academy in London March 9, 2014. | (Photo: REUTERS/Olivia Harris)

Google searches for the word “prayer” increased massively over the past few weeks amid the worldwide pandemic and controversial comedian Russell Brand, who's best known for his vulgarity, offered his thoughts on why. 

"I found out that everyone's googling prayer,” Brand said in an Instagram video post, titled “Why the h*** are people suddenly googling prayer?”

“People want to know how to pray all of a sudden. There was a time not that long ago when we thought that prayer and religion was redundant that mankind could answer all of our questions through technology.” 

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Brand said that “now” everyone is looking for a “sacred experience.” He then went on to define the meaning of the word sacred as “holy, divine, the presence of God. 

“What I think that means is the presence of the limitless that is always, by its nature, present in the limited bandwidth of our physical sense-based experience here on Earth, which on some level we know is not enough," he said.

In March, it was discovered by Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and executive director of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture that “In Crisis, We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

In a draft released by Bentzen, she found that prayer intensity rose in countries that have “only recently been hit by the pandemic themselves.”

"Daily data on Google searches for 95 countries demonstrates that the COVID-19 crisis has increased Google searches for prayer (relative to all Google searches) to the highest level ever recorded," she wrote. "The level of prayer search shares in March 2020 was more than 50% higher than the average during February 2020." 

Brand noted that the world has now been forced into a “monastic corner, except for those of us that are frontline workers.”

"The fact that people are googling prayer suggests to me that we need to find a way to pray together,” he added. “Now you might not want to pray because you say, 'Hey man, I don't like religion, it's trying to tell me how to think.' It ain't trying to tell you how to think, it's just giving you some suggestions.”

Brand, who became famous for his insults and wild behavior, challenged people to think about why they were googling prayer. 

"Think about why are you looking to prayer? What are you looking for? Is it you feel trapped in your home at the moment? Do you feel afraid? You feel afraid for loved ones?” he inquired.

"My conception, a prayer to the limitless, to the oneness from which all phenomena.”  

In 2018, Brand said he discovered that Jesus Christ is the solution to the world's problems. Following his divorce from pop star Katy Perry after being married for 14 months, Brand began the process of changing his life around. He wed actress Laura Gallacher in 2017 and has since been sharing a more positive message on his platforms. 

Brand ended the video on prayer by showing people how he prays. 

"This is how I pray: I go what do I really want, what am I trying to get to? Firstly, I acknowledge that what I really want, may not matter. So I go, 'God, try and make me of maximum use, try and liberate me from the limited view of myself as a vessel for primal desires and wants, just an object for economic systems that would seek to control me. Show me, God, how I can be useful in other people's lives. Show me the way of kindness, compassion and simplicity. Please help me to have faith that even though I don't know how things are going to be alright, that they will be alright.” 

Brand told those who are “googling help me God” that the real answer is within themselves.

Although thought to have been a newly converted Christian after his recovery from drug and alcohol and his 2017 book, titled Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions,  Brand shared in 2019 that he is a Perennial and embraces all religions.

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