People are googling prayer because they are looking for a 'sacred experience', says Russell Brand

Russell Brand(Photo: Instagram/Russell Brand)

Coronavirus has forced the world into a "monastic corner", says comedian turned spiritual vlogger Russell Brand.

In an Instagram video seeking to answer the question of why more people are googling prayer, he said that people were looking for a "sacred experience" and the "holy, divine, presence of God". 

"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," he said. 

He said the search for prayer was a recognition that life on earth is "limited" and "on some level we know [it] is not enough". 

Brand went on to say that he prays, as he encouraged others to do the same. 

"The fact that people are googling prayer suggests to me that we need to find a way to pray together," he said.

"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."

Asking people to think about why they are looking to prayer and what it is that they are looking for, he suggested it could be because they "feel trapped" and "afraid". 

"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," he said.

"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."

Research by Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, found that searches for prayer on Google rose to their highest levels after coronavirus went global in March. 

"The level of prayer search shares in March 2020 was more than 50% higher than the average during February 2020," she said.