May 4, 2016

5 facts about prayer

55% of Americans Say They Pray Every Day

May 5 is the National Day of Prayer, on which presidents annually proclaim that “the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” The day has spawned a rival National Day of Reason on the same day, started by humanist groups and other opponents of the National Day of Prayer.

Here are five facts about prayer, including survey data on Americans’ prayer habits and historical instances of prayer intersecting with the government:

1The National Day of Prayer was enacted in 1952 by the Congress and President Harry S. Truman. As with the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, the move came during the Cold War and was seen as a way of contrasting the more religious United States with the officially atheistic Soviet Union.

2The Freedom From Religion Foundation unsuccessfully challenged the National Day of Prayer in court. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the group, which aims to promote the separation of church and state, did not have legal standing to challenge the law.

3For many Americans, every day is a day of prayer. More than half (55%) of Americans say they pray every day, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, while 21% say they pray weekly or monthly and 23% say they seldom or never pray. Even among those who are religiously unaffiliated, 20% say they pray daily. Women (64%) are more likely than men (46%) to pray every day. And Americans ages 65 and older are far more likely than adults under 30 to say they pray daily (65% vs. 41%).

4A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2014 found that 45% of Americans – and a majority of Christians (55%) – say they rely a lot on prayer and personal religious reflection when making major life decisions. The same survey found that 63% of Christians in the U.S. say praying regularly is an essential part of their Christian identity.

5In 2014 – in the case Town of Greece v. Galloway – the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. legislative and administrative bodies may begin their sessions with a prayer. On some occasions, however, the high court has rejected other types of state-sponsored prayer. For instance, in 1962’s Engel v. Vitale, the court famously struck down a policy requiring public school students to begin their day with a nonsectarian prayer.

This is an update of a blog post originally published May 1, 2014. 

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Religion and Society, Religion and Government, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Beliefs and Practices

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Har Mil1 year ago

    At the suggestion of a devout Catholic friend of mine, despite my being an strong atheist for decades, I started a routine of prayer to believe in God and spend at least 15 minutes a day reading the Bible, but doing so while in a state of “selfless meditation”, something that, frankly, took quite some time to achieve (once I understood the concept).

    Long story-short, once I actually started “hearing” the “voice of God”, I got scared silly and stopped. Sh*t! This form of self hypnosis actually works! At least in my limited, one person experience.

    I’ve been humbled anyway….

  2. Anonymous1 year ago

    prayer need not be to deistic or theistic. Prayer can simply be an expression of the
    heart- the soul to the “collective universe” let us start of with one idea. HOW ABOUT
    A PRAYER TO THE UNIVERSE FOR GLOBAL PEACE. – It is simply sending a deeply felt wish/message/request statement of loving kindness, – a very long list of humanistic
    qualities. Let us try to be willing to expand our vocabulary to be more inclusive.
    One voice attempting to join with others/hundreds/thousands/ WHO KNOWS.
    Thanks for listening.

  3. Anonymous1 year ago

    Much needs are met through prayer in fact it is necessary and important to seek GOD for his guidance.

  4. Anonymous1 year ago

    Doesn’t appear to be doing any good. Perhaps that time would be better used by people to solve their own problems. Life is not a dress rehearsal!

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      The thing about people who say this is

      1) People are often praying about things they really can’t solve on their own. It’s not like if you weren’t praying you’d suddenly be an oncologist or a peace negotiator.

      2) Even an entire rosary takes like fifteen to twenty minutes. So it’s not like it’s a huge amount of time.

      3) Even if you think prayer dos nothing it’s a little obsessive to think every minute should be “well used.” My guess would be that people who don’t pray aren’t using the extra time on anything especially grand. It might just be an extra amount of TV watching or eating or the like.

  5. David Nova1 year ago

    but does it make a difference if u pray for a sick person? i bet a study’s been done. i’m going to google it now.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      The sick person will feel better and more relief through the prayer

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        Yes we all recognize that placebos work. But it only works if the person is aware that something has been done which should make them feel better. Praying for someone who doesn’t know you are praying for them does absolutely nothing. Which tells you that there are better ways to help patients feel less stressed and more comfortable rather than believing Iron Age myths.

        So here’s a crazy thought, let’s skip prayer and focus on what actually works, modern medicine and being empathic towards our paients.

        1. Anonymous1 year ago


        2. Anonymous1 year ago

          Its not really possible to entirely disprove that prayer is a means of reaching out to God. Our measures of “proof” rely on material or empirical evidence found in nature or that which is deemed natural but they are unable to determine the supernatural or immaterial world. It is fair to say that there is no “proof” of this “world” available to us but it is possible for it to exist beyond our comprehension.

  6. Anonymous1 year ago

    Your Five Facts about Prayer are really nothing more than facts about the practice of what many people call prayer. The essence of what that experience is remains a strictly personal and greatly varied expression. Even a National Day of Prayer is nothing more than a nod in the direction of those who choose to practice it–and however they choose to practice it.

  7. Anonymous1 year ago

    People I know imagine that our country was founded as a Christian nation rather than a ‘freedom of religion’ nation. I’m a Christian but many of my friends don’t get it.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      …and it seems so simple and uncomplicated to let people do what they choose including not participating.

  8. Anonymous1 year ago

    prayer….how to say you are helping without really doing anything.

    1. Sabrina M Messenger1 year ago

      No one who takes prayer seriously considers praying alone to be sufficient . As the Scriptures teach, faith without eorjs is dead. People don’t understand what genuine prayer is. Nor do they understand the purpose of prayer. Hence the reason for misconception such as what you posited. Prayer isn’t just about asking for things. Its not about ordering God or the universe around do as to get one’s way. Nor is prayer a passive activity that requires no action on our part. Prayer isn’t magic. Real prayer is a lot more than words. It involves soul, spirit. body and intent. The first purpose of Prayer above all else is to honor, worship and show love for God. Next purpose to experience His love in return, and to allow His will to guide us in all we think, say and do. Prayer often inspires people to take time to calm themselves so they can do mindful thoughtful actions vs impulsive mindless and thoughtless actions which all too often end in disaster. No person of faith considers prayer alone to be sufficient.

      1. Gerry Gentile1 year ago

        You describe the ideal type of prayer–one that is God and other-centered. The problem is that much of what passes for “prayer” is all show–sort of a spiritual loyalty test. That’s why so many non-theists and secularists want a total ban on public displays of religiosity. Not only can “anyone say they’re a Christian”, but it’s too easy to be made to feel like the enemy for not actively, publicly participating in someone’s public religious demonstration.

        It’s really irritating to listen to folks who prate that there’s a “War on Christianity” ™ in America. There’s nothing of the sort. If someone feels that prayer isn’t prayer unless some public or government figure is leading that prayer, they have a problem. Some folks have a hang-up about not having Prayer in School ™. Well, why do the kids need the teacher to lead the class in prayer? Can’t the kids pray quietly on their own before class starts? Guess not. Apparently it isn’t pleasing in the Lord’s Sight if the government doesn’t endorse and require it of the student body.

        That’s truly absurd.

  9. Anonymous1 year ago

    Thank you for the valuable information, the valuable work Pew performs.
    May GOD Bless you & yours!!!

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Well done!

  10. Anonymous1 year ago

    Makes things go easier sometimes-valid way to review troubling circumstaces and get some help resolving them. phil davis

  11. John Smith2 years ago

    Prayer being the most intimate and holy part of Our Christian Relationship with God is a communion you do not often recognize that you are a part of all the time. A key issue concerning Hell is that it is the complete absence of God and his nurturing Love and concern for the individual. The burning sulpher and abiding heat and misery are one thing, but the fact you cannot even pray to God in that awful abode set aside in the Universe must be unbearable to have to bear. Gnashing of teeth and regret must be overwhelmimhg In an Universe this large to be lost in ………….GO and preach the good n ews one more time.If it destroys your planned life. So be it fir your real reward is in God;s Heaven …

    1. Susan Hansen2 years ago

      I don’t believe there is an actual hell. God is far to loving and forgiving to do that (my personal belief). A loving God would never do that and I don’t believe that much of what is written in the bible is meant in a literal sense, but symbolic. That is just my own personal belief.

      1. Jason Victor2 years ago

        Then you probably don’t believe there is a devil too you can’t just pick what you want to believe the bible is 100 percent true it’s God breathed by Holy Spirit if there was no hell it wouldn’t be such a big choice on accepting Jesus as our savior that’s he died on the cross so we wouldn’t perish or go to hell.

        1. Brian Mead2 years ago

          The Bible is not literally true, very far from it. Do you know how the Bible was compiled? By thousands of men with thousands of scraps over thousands of years, and I tell you, very much of the Bible is not literally true, or worse, it is wrong. And the New Testament especially was literally decided by a political committee.

          I believe in heaven and hell. I believe in one God, and no God but him alone. I believe in a scripture that does not force people to deny the empirical world and their own reason to be believers, when there are works of literature older than scripture claims the world is.

          I believe in the Quran.

      2. Glenn Lewis2 years ago

        If you do not believe in hell then you may as well discount all JESUS spoke about. HE spoke about the realities of hell !!

      3. Anonymous1 year ago

        Dear Glen . . . . yea no hell means no prisons!!! Yea. . and for the hard core criminals to live next door to you. . .for ever! Think of it!!
        Fact of the matter is that hell, like prison, was NOT created for obedient law-abiding citizens. No. Time is fast coming then. . . then . . . .“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41 (NIV))

  12. Angela Smith2 years ago

    I have a hard time believing that 55% of Christians pray. I am sure that most people if asked know that the right answer is to say yes. I do not think most Christians here in the U.S. even know what praying is. When there is prayer, change happens. I’ve seen it in others. Maybe I have become complacent and stagnant, being comfortable(lukewarm), so perhaps I do not want things to change, so why pray? Thanks for bringing this to light, Pew. A question I needed to ask myself, so thanks for posing it.

    1. Sabrina M Messenger1 year ago

      Something prayer is about change but the change may not be what one expects.

  13. Roy E. Golden2 years ago

    Use God’s code and change your behavior. It is in our code not to kill others with this code. Even good guys who kill evil guys break this code. So in that code he will develop PTSD to fix his behavior. If that code does not bring health, he will kill himself to fix the problem. The fix doctors currently use is just man made drugs. God is the answer, only He knows the DNA code.
    This is my answer to all who suffer from addictions. Yes, I am not an addict of your poisons but still an addict try my addiction it may give you relief. Believe there is a higher power than your drugs and call upon that higher power to give you relief without taking another drug. Live as many years as you can sober and count them when you say I am a recovering addict for 1 day and then increase that number as long as “that” power helps you. Love that power with all your heart, it is the power to recover. Attend meetings as often as you can.

    1. Gerry Gentile1 year ago

      Use God’s code? Use God’s code.

      Wow! I guess the Israelites who invaded the “Promised Land” and slaughtered the indigenous population wasn’t really following “God’s Code”, since they were killing other people. Oh, wait! Since God commanded it, that made it all right.

      Okay. I’m clear on that.

  14. KRISTY WOOD2 years ago


  15. Max T. Furr2 years ago

    What is truly interesting to me–from a purely psychological perspective–is that so many people have no interest in researching the efficacy of prayer and tend to ignore the negative results of studies.

    Because there are “studies” conducted/promoted by religious organizations that dispute objective studies, I did my own research on the results of world-wide, collective prayer in relation to its effect on global belligerence (war, insurgency, rebellion, etc). The evidence is quite clear that it has no effect whatsoever. See….

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Prayer doesn’t stop human foolishness, lies and sin. Nor does prayer encourage them.

      Authentic prayer properly checked by well-trained people like confirmed spiritual directors who are also supervised confirms authentic searching and sound moral judgement.

  16. Sam Brown2 years ago

    Why pray? There is nothing to pray to. Man created gods to explain what they themselves cannot explain.

    1. Mike2 years ago

      Sam, you’ve got a great name, one of the great prophets in Scripture honored that name well. I hope you too learn to honor God and do well for Him with that name.

      Try as you might to dismiss the truth of God, but the pure denial of Him, atheism/humanism/reason, whatever you want to call it, is man’s attempt to make himself God from insecurity and unfulfillment disguised as pride and knowledge.

  17. Sabrina M Messenger2 years ago

    I definitely believe in the power and efficacy of prayer, and I pray each morning after waking and at night before going to sleep and try to remember to pray during the day apart from saying grace over meals. Why wouldn’t one want to talk with Someone they love? and if one loves God then they pray. It’s that simple.

  18. Rahaden J.2 years ago

    Aside from the fact that there is no evidence that invisible beings and magic forces exist, it seems to me that praying to the gods to intervene in a world that they control is asking them to undo what they have already done, or are planning to do. Little, powerless people want great, powerful beings to rethink what they’re doing so that the interests of the powerless will be better served. Magic thinking gives me a headache.

    1. Linda2 years ago

      Prayer helpes me all the time. Yesterday I was able to make peace with my neighbor because of prayer. A higher being(God) helped me realize I needed to apologize. If I wasn’t the praying type…I would have ruined a neighborly friendship. Prayer helps me to be a better person.

    2. TC2 years ago

      You haven’t seen the evidence because you haven’t tried to find it. I see blatant evidence all the time and have a great relationship with a God that I know exists and that I know has been active in my life. You also don’t understand the nature of how prayer actually works and what it actually does, and you never will until you sincerely try it.

    3. Eleni2 years ago

      “There is more to Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than can be seen by man”. People who I have known that pray regularly, don’t pray to change events, but rather ask to have the peace and strength to get through life’s challenges. Those who pray have more peace in day to day activities and events than non-praying people. Don’t knock it, my dear friend Rahaden, until you have sincerely tried it. Best of Luck!

  19. John Calvin2 years ago

    There are a lot of haters on this forum, God haters that is. I guarantee it that if you pray to God sincerely from the heart in the name of Jesus to forgive you and save you from the damnation you deserve He will change your life. But you never will unless you are moved by his Spirit.

    1. Max T. Furr2 years ago

      Of course prayer helps, subjectively. It makes a person feel better because he thinks it works. The imagination is a powerful tool for that purpose. Works for virtually all people of all faiths. There is, however, no evidence it works beyond the self and any religion.

  20. Sira D. Galan2 years ago

    Prayer is how we can commune with God and develop a close relationship with him. It allows you to chat with Him to thank him for all the things that he has done for us. It helps us to carry our cross with ease because He is always behind us even though sometime we give our back to Him Apostasy. He never forsake us but he gives us free will and the right to choose from HIS DIvine Laws instead to support material laws.

  21. Gordon Lattey2 years ago

    Darian, Xaurreaux and felexdoc are so smug in their “intellectual superiority.” Why is it that those who don’t believe feel it is necessary to insult and/or make fun of those who do. Insecurity? Are they possibly whistling loudly “to keep the goblins away” as they walk down a dark path?

    1. John Smith2 years ago

      Prayer being the most intimate and Holy part of Our Christian Relationship with God is a communion you do not often recognize that you are a part of all the time. A key issue concerning Hell is that it is the complete absence of God and his nurturing Love and concern for the individual. The burning sulpher and abiding heat and misery are one thing, but the fact you cannot even pray to God in that awful abode set aside in the Universe must be unbearable to have to bear. Gnashing of teeth and regret must be overwhelmimhg In an Universe this large to be lost in ………To live a day without that communion.mIt is like St Paul’s requests CHristians to pray constantly ….GO and preach the good n ews one more time.If it destroys your planned life. So be it for your real reward is in God;s Heaven …

  22. Sassan K. Darian2 years ago

    Future generations will look back at this generation and look at the naivety and ignorance that much of humanity still has.

  23. James Morgan2 years ago

    If there is a god who can read our hearts and minds, it should not be necessary to petition it through prayer. If it does not know what’s in our hearts, it is not omniscient.
    If there is a god who hears our prayers, it does not seem necessary to pray for something more than once. If believers did not get what they prayed for the first time, they may assume that the answer was “no,” or that their god does not hear their prayers, or that there is no god. If the answer was “no,” they should quit pestering their god with the same request. And if it does not hear their prayers, or there really is no god, there’s no point in continuing to pray. By the same reasoning, if a god hears and responds to prayer it should not be necessary for more than one person to pray for the same thing.

    1. martinH2 years ago

      It is obvious you do not read the Bible and see that it tells us to pray without ceasing (1Thes 5:17)and that the joining in with prayers with like believers brings strength and power. Jesus said if any two or more agree on anything touching the kingdom it will be done of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19

      1. Capricious Kant2 years ago

        Why then do many people praying for the same result (eg finding MH370, for relatives to find survivors of Nepal earthquake or improvement in the consequences of other calamities and misfortunes) does God not hear or answer their prayers? If I pray tonite for the stars to fall to earth…as it says in the bible…I guarantee it will not happen! Self delusion regarding prayer is popular but groundless wishful thinking. And don’t come out with the old chestnut that God works in mysterious ways!!

  24. XaurreauX2 years ago

    How are those prayers to restore amputated limbs working out?

    1. tom sathre2 years ago

      The Roman Catholic church requires a handful of miracles from each candidate for sainthood *before* cannonization. Maybe you should look there before writing notes that assume an answer.

      1. FreeThinker2 years ago

        That is quite a hypocritical statement. Organized religion was founded upon assuming an answer before asking the question. That’s exactly what faith is.

        As knowledge spreads throughout the western world, with the help of the internet, people will gradually start to think more critically. It’s already occurring at a statistically significant pace. To be omniscient and accept a book of literature as fact, written almost 2000 years ago, is incredibly arrogant. It’s a shame, because this type of primitive thinking has tremendous negative effects on public policy.

        1. Mike2 years ago

          What do you think theoretical physics is? That’s where the foundation of the big bang theory and evolution are derived and most of their evidence are founded in this assumptive “science.” It’s not science at all, it’s a religion that requires faith.

          Wait, what is religion? Let’s actually take Webster’s definition on this… “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” Religion is what people align their lives with — for some it’s science, reason, God.

  25. flexdoc2 years ago

    What the poll omitted is that almost all of these people are praying to ask for something. For most praying is making believe you are doing something when you are too lazy to actually do something.

    1. Lisa Quinn2 years ago


    2. LBB2 years ago

      What makes you think that people who pray don’t do anything else? We thank God for the many blessings of this lifetime, we pray for the strength and wisdom to deal with issues in our lives, we ask for God’s blessing upon those who are in need, and we ask for His guidance in our daily living.

      My prayers frequently end with this statement: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?”

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        Great message!

    3. David2 years ago

      I pity your simple-mindedness. Prayer is the spiritual act of breath. You will never understand prayer till you come to the end of yourself.

  26. Craig2 years ago

    The only function for prayer is to focus the thoughts of the person doing the praying. Because someone praying must take at least some time to think about what they are praying for, it can be a useful exercise. However, to expect some external entity to take action on those prayers is delusional.

    Since things that are prayed for happen with exactly the same probability as those that aren’t, they have absolutely zero direct impact. If you want to pray, go ahead. That is one of the things that the 1st amendment guarantees your right to do in this country. On the other hand, don’t try to use your belief to force others to waste their time on such things, especially in government or public schools.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Prayer “works” in exactly the same way that placebos “work;” because people believe that they will.

  27. Corina Fidone2 years ago

    Every morning I wake up with the first words of praying ..thanking God for another breath of life and am thankful throughout the day even with the tiniest delight. I pray for peace in our world and know.. even though people may believe~they have ‘no’ belief..just their entry alone on such a site..shows a mere thought in their mind-there may be an existence, so for that I am thankful too, in keeping the thought of God in ones’ mind, the minds of those who have no belief. In HIS name ~ I remain faithful

    1. Lee Picton2 years ago

      If it floats your personal boat, knock yourself out. But, honey chile, slyly insinuating that you are somehow superior to non believers is insulting. I hope every day that silly believers like you see the light and come to atheism. How does that make you feel?

      1. Minority of Thought2 years ago


    2. Vicci Dempsey2 years ago

      Amen! This is very similar to how I start and end my day! Very well said. May your prayers be answered and your praise be pleasing to the Lord!

    3. Diana2 years ago

      If being alive is enough to be thankful for, then one must assume that the inverse state of being dead, is a negative, not to be grateful for. Otherwise we’d be thanking God for any state that we find ourselves in, making our expressions of gratitude almost meaningless. With this in mind, isn’t it slightly selfish and unjust to thank God for waking you up, while that same God, enforced a condemning fate on those that did not wake up, and for which you are grateful that you did not experience?

  28. william bidwell2 years ago

    “The main benefit of reason is the fact that some things are simply beyond reason.”
    Blaise Pascal

    1. Richard2 years ago

      Like what?

      The Earth Being Flat, being the center of the universe? How about Big Bang Theory. O, but there’s no way to know what happened before the Big Bang?

      O, except we do.

      1. Mike2 years ago

        Right, because someone was there to record it… ummm… nope. There’s no scientific method there, it’s all speculatory theory. It’s not testable, just theoretical. It’s no more sound than the theory of Creation. Both are unscientific and require faith. You may choose the religion of reason and theory, but I chose faith in a loving God who I have seen interact in His creation.

  29. Dennis Lurvey2 years ago

    Prayer is always one of those things you say you do (even if you dont) just to keep the peace in a family. When ppl are with true friends they are free to speak the truth. Like the founders often coddled Christianity in public but laughed at it when they were among friends and wrote letters to each other.
    All those god things in the pledge, nat’l day of prayer, in god we trust; are all unconstitutional. The courts require personal injury to grant standing and so far, only in Colorado, have the courts allowed a case to move forward.

  30. Sean2 years ago

    What are the statistics on prayers that get answered? Doesn’t look good for prayer.

    1. ryan marv2 years ago

      Haha, good one 😛

    2. Ron Lee2 years ago

      Refer to the STEP trials and whywontgodhealamputees The Best Optical Illusion In The World

    3. Greg Brown2 years ago

      Our prayer group which consists of approximately 25 ppl ( men and women) has a success rate of about 95%. I’d say prayer looks really good right now with those #’s. Wouldn’t you?

      1. Roger2 years ago

        Hi Greg, Please then use that successful praying style to pray for eradication of ebola from western africa, malaria which kills millions yearly, millions of children under 5 dying from… diarrhea. Let me know how it goes.

        1. LBB2 years ago

          Context, Roger: What are you doing to eradicate ebola from this world, and what are YOU, personally, doing to keep 5 million children from dying from diarrhea? God works through us. On the other hand, acting smug in an internet forum helps nobody.

    4. Marshall Belenchia2 years ago

      All prayers are answered. You just may not like the answer.

    5. Brenda Clouse2 years ago

      ALL prayers are answered; just not always with the answer that we want or expect. God, the Father, gives us what we need, and we learn how that benefits us as we progress along our path of spirituality. (“Thy Will be done.”)

  31. Uma Silbey3 years ago

    What are the statistics of people who pray in 2014? Are the statistics consistent with the quoted 2013 statistics?

  32. michael jude3 years ago

    I am much more comfortable with internal prayer thoughts meditations as opposed to formal recitations

  33. Julius3 years ago

    I would agree their are many religions and many gods. If we look at Jesus teachings we notice right away he was not teaching about a religious denomination or for that matter a religious group of people. He was teaching about the Kingdom of GOD an how we can be part of that Kingdom. He was also teaching about love, mercy, compassion , graciousness, kindness, humility, trust, honor, hope, faith in something bigger than our finite minds can comprehend. Oh the depth of wisdom and knowledge. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are all Wisdom teachings written for practical application in our lives. The teachings are designed to prepare our hearts and minds for quality life here and preparation for eternity. My prayer is that I was able to extend GODs love to through our brief exchange of thought. Your Friend in Christ Jesus j

    1. Ron Lee2 years ago

      Shouldn’t we also consider everything written about Jesus is hearsay or or existing mythology?
      And shouldn’t we also consider he probably didn’t exist (refer to On the Historicity of Jesus, Carrier)?
      And if we accept he existed as written in the Bible, what else must we accept? Vicarious punishment/redemption via human sacrifice predated by animal sacrifice to appease your god for some “original sin” and believe or be damned?
      For many of us, these things are nonsensical and logically and philosophically unacceptable. And for many of us, prayer makes no sense either.
      The government should not be promoting/advancing/perpetuating any religious beliefs or practices, including prayer.

    2. SamDobermann2 years ago

      Too bad, Julius, that more self identified Christians don’t practice the tenets such as “mercy, compassion , graciousness, kindness, humility, trust, honor, hope” that you easily report.

      Our country as a whole doesn’t demonstrate mercy, compassion , graciousness, kindness, humility, trust, honor, hope especially toward the poor, the disadvantaged, and those of a different color than the master class.

  34. Julius3 years ago

    Mr. Silha you are not far from the Kingdom of GOD. HE is from everlasting to everlasting. Infinite.

    1. CT1502 years ago

      You know your god is a “he” how?
      I mean, do you, or anyone else, have evidence of male genitalia? If so, how does this god use such genitalia? How does it decide whether or how to use such genitalia? If this god appeared from nothing, as it must have in some point in the past, why would it have male genitalia?
      These are actually quite significant questions, imo. Many people make the claim their god is a “he.” Why is this assumed correct and why should I believe your god is male? And if it is correct, there are more questions that must be addressed about such “maleness.”
      Or perhaps it is as simple as male humans created him in their image, not the other way around.

      1. child of God2 years ago

        You ‘people’ are so limited in your thinking, and in this instance, you CT150. You may notice that I referred to you by using the name that you gave yourself. That’s a sign of respect. A sign of disrespect is call someone by a name that they don’t choose for themselves. That would be insulting. God refers to Himself as a ‘He’. I accept that. If you wish to insult Him, well, that’s your decision.

        Keep in mind that Jesus said we will be judged by our own words…

        1. Plorlk2 years ago

          The Jewish concept of God changed over time, as all religious beliefs do: Emanuel, Shekhina, Yahweh, etc. There was a time when the notion of god encompassed numerous aspects; polytheism in one deity. There was a time when there were separate male and female Jewish deities. There was a time when male and female were combined in one deity. Sophia, wisdom of god, once upon a time was viewed as a feminine aspect of god. God has been described in as many ways as humanity has been able to imagine, comprehend or understand.

          It is as inappropriate, or more so, to call god a “he” as it is to refer to all human beings as “hes”. It is difficult to imagine a universal, all-knowing god that doesn’t include all elements of the universe, including masculinity and femininity.

  35. Julius3 years ago

    Mr. Silha you are not far from the Kingdom of GOD. He is from everlasting to everlasting. Infinite. For me and my house we will serve the LORD GOD Creator of Heaven and Earth and all living things. My prayer is that GOD would reveal himself to you if he hasn’t already done so. Our world needs GODs presence in it. Enlightened thinkers illuminated by GOD himself. Born of His Spirit and Washed in the Blood of Christ.

    1. Edward Silha3 years ago

      I am a retired engineer. I understand and accept statistics and uncertainty. I make my decisions on what concepts to accept based on the amount and quality of the evidence available, whether the evidence supports or contradicts the concept. If there is not sufficient quality evidence to make a decision, I find no problem in saying that I do not know the answer. I am always willing to change my views if new facts justify the change.
      With regard to religion, I have read the Bible through and have read widely about world religions. I have found none that is convincing. The same is true with respect to gods.

      1. David Faux3 years ago

        I have been a student of the Bible for over 50 years and have discovered the real truth about a real God and a real Savior. The simplest point I can make is that Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but through me”. As you look for the truth of Christ in the Bible, consider that this is not a single book, but a library of 66 books written over a period of 1500 years. I have found no contradictions and truly believe that Christ saves us from our sins if He is in our lives. I became a Christian at the age of 13 and it just keeps getting better and better. The Scriptures are the final authority for all faith and practice to which it speaks. I pray that this will bring you to some understanding and you may enjoy the peace of God forever.

        1. freethinker2 years ago

          maybe you should try being a student about the bible instead of “of the bible”

          “I think I do understand god. I actually think a good working definition of “atheist” is “one who understands what a god is”. It is like magic; once you understand how the trick is done it is no longer magic. Understanding destroys faith.” (Mark Richardson)

        2. Nicholas Dube2 years ago

          No contradictions in the entire bible. You are being intellectually dishonest. Look at them all:

        3. Ron Lee2 years ago

          I see no logical reason to accept your claims over the claims for any other god or “holy book.”
          I’ve read the Bible cover to cover – there are many contradictions – right from the start – compare Gen 1 to Gen 2 and the gospels (refer to Who Wrote the Bible and Jesus, Interrupted for decent examples and explanations).
          As far as “Christianity,” vicarious punishment/ redemption via human sacrifice predated by animal sacrifice to appease some god for some (mythological) “original sin” is irrational and repulsive, imo. And these things are likely rejected by you and most Christians outside the context of Christianity (necessitating special pleading, cognitive dissonance, etc).
          While I would stand up for your right to believe and practice your religion (and I did serve in the military), as long as it is not imposed on others, in accordance with our laws, I don’t think our government should be making proclamations about religion – things like “In God We Trust”, which clearly shows government preference/endorsement of monotheism over polytheism and non-theism, and a “National Day of Prayer” go too far, imo.

          1. Katie Carter2 years ago

            Well said.

        4. Gary2 years ago

          You quoted the famous line from Christ purporting to say “no one comes to the father except through me”. This is the definition of hubris and it essentially says that all the Hindus, Muslims, Secular Humanists, Jews etc are damed for all eternity because they did not convert and follow JC. This is religious arrogance and intolerance and it suggests a “father” who would condemn hundreds of millions of people for not embracing a particular religious belief. Frankly, this is utter nonsense.

        5. Paulette2 years ago

          Hope is in Jesus Christ alone.

    2. J. Richard Jacobs2 years ago

      Julius, what you don’t seem to understand is that the basic concept of religion of any kind is disruptive and cannot lead to any sort of peace. The reason for that is simply this: Religious dogma is exclusionary and elitist. If the person holding a differing opinion will not change to fit within the boundaries of a particular religion’s dogma, that person is not going to benefit from their beliefs. Usually this entails punishment of one kind or another. This includes all religions and, as a result, all religions are promoting separation and that is not the path to peace. I will state my opinion here in more crude but more descriptive terms. Religion is irrational, stupid, and a hindrance to the advancement of mankind. Each of them claims they are right and all others are wrong. Each of them requires others to believe as they do or they are locked out. Stupid.

  36. Julius3 years ago

    Reasoning takes intellectual intercourse. One speaks another listens. Then the person who spoke listens while the others speaks. It’s called an exchange of ideas. This exchange can only occur when an individual listens.

  37. Max T. Furr3 years ago

    The bottom line is that the government’s sanction of a religious practice is not Constitutional. The government has no authority to address religion in any way other than to prevent State and local governments from recognizing a particular religion–and no, not all religions recognize one god.

    As for prayer itself, it effects nothing but the person praying. See…

  38. Max T. Furr3 years ago

    Prayer does not make any difference to what will happen. It only makes the prayer feel good. I’ve researched this thoroughly and wrote an article at…

    1. David Faux3 years ago

      You have never experienced true answered prayer. The truth of the matter is that pray does bring about solution to things that are impossible except through Godly intervention

      1. Ron Lee2 years ago

        Here’s an experiment for you – pray to a milk jug for a year and see what happens.
        (For an overview of expected outcomes, refer to whywontgodhealamputees The Best Optical Illusion In The World).

  39. Julius3 years ago

    Here is a thought: for something to evolve it must first exist, for something to exist it must be created or made, for something to be created or made there must be a creator or maker, if there is a creator or maker, who is he? What is his name? Ask me and I’ll tell you. Better yet ask him and he will reveal himself to you personally. He does not want that any of his children be lost. His name is I AM. The self existent one. Creator of heaven and earth, and all living things.

    1. Edward Silha3 years ago

      Julius wrote: ”… for something to exist, it must be created or made, for something to be created or made there must be a creator or maker…”

      Taking this assertion to its logical conclusion leads to the solution that there is a creator, there is a creator of the creator, there is a creator of the creator of the creator … ad infinitum.

      1. Max T. Furr3 years ago

        Very good. When I was in college studying world religions, I made the comment in one class that there is no need for a god, particularly if we live in one of an infinite number of universes, with energy manifesting differently in virtually every one, but the permutations of variables of energy is, on an infinite level, finite.

        The professor replied that that notion is considered by philosophers to be the fallacy of Reductio ad absurdum (reduction to the absurd). I responded that the same would be true of an eternal god. But using Occam’s razor, we know there is an energy field, it is the electromagnetic spectrum, and we are a part of it. We do not know there is a god.

      2. longsmith2 years ago

        Turtles all the way down.

    2. Craig2 years ago

      “…for something to exist it must be created or made, for something to be created or made there must be a creator or maker…”

      Nonsense. For something to exist it must have come into being somehow. There must be a mechanism by which that happened, but that doesn’t require, or even imply, that such a mechanism must be a conscious entity of any kind. It doesn’t require a “creator.”

      Frankly I am afraid of anybody who says that god speak to them. It means that they are hearing voices that don’t exist and those voices could tell them to do crazy or dangerous things. After all, Abraham in the bible was told to sacrifice his son to god, and he was going to do so, no questions asked, before god interceded. Anything that teaches that you should blindly do what your book or invisible friend tells you to do, including killing your child if that is what is asked of you, is scary and dangerous and is NOT to be trusted.

  40. Julius3 years ago

    Isaiah 1:18 yes they should have their day of reasoning. I’m all for it and GOD would love to reason with them.

    1. Max T. Furr3 years ago

      It appears that your god is taking his own sweet time in speaking “reason.”

  41. Rich Mariner3 years ago

    It’s a day of prayer. If you want to pray, pray to whatever you like. If you don’t want to pray don’t. As long as you aren’t told you must pray and for whom to pray this isn’t a problem.

    1. Wayne Kelley3 years ago


    2. Edward Silha3 years ago

      The Supreme court has interpreted the First Amendment as requiring the government to be neutral with respect to religion, neither promoting nor inhibiting an individual from practicing any particular belief that does not violate other laws (e.g., human sacrifice). Atheists assert (statement of conscience) that there is no god and that prayer is a useless exercise. By declaring an official day of prayer, the government is taking the position that the conclusions of atheists on metaphysical issues is not valid by implying there is a god and prayer is effective.

      1. Morgan3 years ago

        Atheists do not assert there is no God. That’s just as much a claim as to assert there is one. Atheists do not believe in the claim that God(s) exist(s), because the claim has not met its burden of proof. An atheist would change his/her mind about this claim, if it would meet its burden of proof.

        1. Edward Silha3 years ago

          I agree with most you have stated. However, the definition you provided is that of an agnostic. Agnostics assert that whether god or gods exist is unknowable based on existing evidence. Atheists assert there is no credible evidence, so there is no god.

          1. Max T. Furr3 years ago

            Not quite. Very few people, I think, would say that they are certain there is no god. Take a look at the Spectrum of Theistic Probabilities, where:

            1) Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”

            2) De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”

            3) Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”

            4)Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. “God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.

            5) Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. “I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.”

            6) De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”

            7) Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one.”

            I, and I suspect most atheists, would be a “6.” Charles Dawkins, who created this spectrum, is a “6.”

  42. Nathaniel Hall3 years ago

    @Edward- The Supreme Court is notoriously wishy-washy about using the Lemon test. It does not really want to view it as binding on its future decisions because it considers religion to be a “special category” of cases. Thus, there are other tests that they use such as neutrality, oppression, etc.

    In reality, it’s practical motivations that move the Court in most establishment clause cases. When the 9th Circuit ruled that “under God” in the pledge of allegiance was unconstitutional a few years ago, half of the country and Congress was ready to impeach the lot of them. The Supremes saved them by throwing out that case on standing.

    1. Edward Silha3 years ago

      The court may have bent the test in some cases, but the test is still supported by the majority of the justices. Scalia and Thomas (the most conservative, maybe even extreme justices) are the primary critics. From a practical point, why do you find the Lemon test objectionable? History has an overwhelming number of examples of civil strive caused by government sanctioned sectarianism. That is what the first amendment and the Lemon test help to prevent.

  43. Don Cameron3 years ago

    Unfortunately it leaves out the one salient fact. Prayer is less effective than wishful thinking.

    1. Max T. Furr3 years ago

      Actually, I think prayer IS wishful thinking.

  44. Edward Silha3 years ago

    Lemon Test
    1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose.
    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion.
    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.
    How does the national day of prayer pass this test given that prayer is a religious ritual and the national day of prayer is intended to promote this religious ritual?

    1. Marie Herr3 years ago

      The Lemon Test is only used to determine if a STATUTE violates the 1st Amendment.

      Not to mention, it’s rather paradoxical (read hypocritical) that the political Left rarely objects to Lawmakers exploiting the teachings of Jesus when it suits their purposes, i.e. equating TAXES with CHARITY.

      1. Edward Silha3 years ago

        My point was that under the Lemon test, the legislation instituting the national day of prayer seems to violate the first amendment.

        With regard to politicians quoting Jesus, the Bible, or any other religious tenant, both sides do so. Whether any particular reference is rational can only be decided on a case by case basis.

      2. Craig2 years ago

        “…the political Left rarely objects to Lawmakers exploiting the teachings of Jesus when it suits their purposes, i.e. equating TAXES with CHARITY.”

        Nothing ironic about this claim of yours, because it is based on a false premise. The beliefs/positions of the left have NOTHING to do with “the teachings of Jesus.” I don’t know what you mean by “equating taxes with charity.” Nobody I know thinks of taxes that way. What we DO believe is that taxes are a useful mechanism for government to help mitigate the impacts of imperfections in our economic system to try to level the playing field, besides funding governmental actions that benefit all citizens.

        Of course YOU seem to think of progressive policies in terms of Jesus, because everything to you goes back to Jesus. Since I am not and never was Christian, I don’t care a whit about what the fictional Jesus character ever said and don’t base any of my actions or policy positions on anything he was purported to have said.

  45. Jose Abreu3 years ago

    Thank you for drafting me in fantasy.

  46. Diana Robinson3 years ago

    The issue in Greece, N.Y. is not that they start with prayer, but that they start with a Christian prayer and ignore other religions.

    1. Zebra3 years ago

      Diana Robinson:
      To what religion should we NOT ignore?

      1. Nicholas Dube2 years ago

        They should either let anyone of any belief start the meeting or not do it at all.

  47. skeptic43213 years ago

    Other tidbits
    1 ) There is no good evidence for the effectiveness of Intercessory prayer (in fact, the STEP Trial showed a trend towards adverse effects for those who knew they were being prayed for)
    2) If there is any benefit from prayer, it is likely similar to the benefits of meditation
    3) According to Madison’s notes, there was no group prayer at the Constitutional Convention for at least a month – it was brought up for a vote just before the 4th of July weekend but there was no vote before adjournment – prayer just snuck its way in and has been in Congress since – doesn’t mean it’s right
    4) More people advocating prayer in public should read Matthew 6

    1. Marie Herr3 years ago

      1) Other studies reveal the opposite “trend”, but prayer itself is highly subjective.
      2) So what’s the big deal? Semantics?
      3) Doesn’t mean it’s not Constitutional
      4) More people who are advocating “freedom FROM religion” should start reading the Federalist Papers.

      1. Max T. Furr3 years ago

        Better yet, read Thomas Jefferson, three paragraph Virginia Act for the establishment of Religious Freedom. This is the document from which the Establishment Clause was fashioned and it lays down the INTENT of the Establishment Clause. You can find it here: religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.ed…

  48. Franklin Otis Carroll3 years ago

    Prayer is a way of acknowledging The Lord in all our comings and goings. Prayer need not end though prayer does center the mind and invite the Spirit to ill image the way forward. ITNOJC,A

    1. Scott Thomas2 years ago

      Prove to me there IS a spirit first.

  49. S. Keegan3 years ago

    National Day of Reason on the same day as the National Day of Prayer? Fine by me! My faith and reason are in no conflict, so I’m perfectly capable of exercising both simultaneously.

    1. Max T. Furr3 years ago

      If you are a Christian, I submit that there is more conflict than your unconscious mind will allow you to admit.

  50. Daniel R. Winder3 years ago

    Here’s a story about a man who started praying in his late 30’s.…

  51. Henry Jay Karp3 years ago

    While I usually value highly the reports I receive from Pew, I found this report to be disappointing. It presents itself as offering 5 facts about prayer, when in fact the majority of the facts that it shares are about the National Day of Prayer rather than the state of prayer practice in America. I cannot believe that the folks at Pew sincerely equate the observance of the National Day of Prayer with the nature and practice of prayer in America.

  52. Lamanilena3 years ago

    To the outsider, Americans appear to flaunt their public piety, and for elected officials it is a required exhibition skill. This invocation of God is repugnant to many of us who feel that it is more for display and manipulative purposes – (like “patriotism” during wartime.)

    Prayer is internal and requires true humility – little of which is revealed in these mass demonstrations of piety.

  53. Rev. John F Yeaman3 years ago

    RE: 5 facts about prayer; I wonder how many prayers are “gimme” prayers, how many contemplative or centering prayer.

    1. Susan2 years ago

      I picked my son up from school. he did not look right in the eyes. I ask him if he was feeling ok? He said no. He came home and threw up. My husband came home from work. I told him and he said , “put him up stairs and keep a eye on him” We went to bed around Ten. Our doorbell rang at 11;45. My husband turn the light on , and it was our neighbor who was a doctor. he apologized for waking us up. He needed my husband to take his sons car in to get it fixed. Went back to sleep but could not sleep. It was 3;30 in the morning. I was steel watching the clock. I ask God Why cant I sleep? I laid steel and Heard “What is out of the ordinary?” AS I laid there and thought about the question, I answered to myself The Dr. waking us up, He is a stickler about being woke up ,if he is not on call. Then I heard God ask “Why is he no longer a DR.? . Well I knew that answer fast. He had neck surgery because it was effecting his spine. He could no longer pick people up. Then God whispered “Preston threw up, Spine? ” I jumped out of bed and told my husband I needed to take Preston to the Hospital ,He has spinal meningitis!!. My husband said , Why do you think that?. I told him God just told me ! He said , if you take him to the emergency room and tell them that God has told you that he has spinal meningitis . They are going to lock you up and I am going to have to come up there and pick up Preston. Well I knew I had heard what I had heard so I woke Preston up and took him to the hospital and wrote down “my son has spinal meningitis” we get right in and the Dr. ask me “what makes you think he as spinal meningitis? I said to him ,” I don’t know if you believe in God or not? But I just excepted Christ last month and was baptized with Preston and through a series of events God has told me. Well the Dr. was mad and said “spinal taps hurt. I said I know I have had one. He said Fine. Come on Preston. He comes out of the swinging doors and sits down by me. He said Your son has fluid on his spine , He has spinal meningitis!!!!!! How did you know . I told him the whole story and he ask me the Dr. first name and I said Yes, that’s him he is my neighbor. He knew him because he was a dr. at the same hospital. He knew of his neck surgery and how it had effected his spine. He started crying . He knew everything I had told him was true. Preston was in the hospital for seven days. They hit him with antibiotics around the clock. I am not a nurse or in the medical field .There is no way I could have known He had spinal meningitis. My husband begged me not to tale him to the hospital. “Just put him on the sofa and watch him.:” The Dr. told him If we would have done that , Preston would have died. My husband went to church for the first time that following Sunday. Believe me there is a God! My son is alive today because I heard and obeyed the holy spirit , even at the cost of sounding crazy.

      1. Jana2 years ago

        Thank you for your story, Susan. I have had similar experiences with children. It wasn’t mother’s intuition, because I know so little about medical things. But, one baby was very sick with flu-like symptoms, and I was told by our doctor that it was simply the flu. I asked if it could possibly be because of aspirating food. The doctor had me rush the child to the hospital where we discovered that one lung was collapsed, the other close to it, from fluid. He had aspirated a nut into his lungs. But, we were able to save him, thanks to the whispers from the Spirit that I received.
        With another child suffering from headaches, I asked for an MRI because I was sure she had a brain tumor. (Again, a thought that came to me, suddenly in the night.) The doctors almost laughed at me, saying “Headaches are caused by brain tumors only 1% of the time!. But she had two tumors on her brain, and, again, she was saved because of the prompting I received. I give thanks everyday to a loving Heavenly Father who has created this amazing world and all the beautiful living things, plants, animals, and people.