People are praying more as a result of the coronavirus pandemic - research

(Photo: Unsplash/Alex Bracken)

One effect of the coronavirus pandemic is that it is causing Christians to pray more, new research has found.

In a survey of 11,000 American adults by the Pew Research Center, over half (55%) said they had prayed for an end to the pandemic.  This figure rose to 73% among those who identify as Christian, and 86% among those who say they pray on a daily basis. 

Even with those who said they seldom or never pray, 15% said they had been praying for an end to the pandemic, while among those who said they did not belong to any religion, the figure was even higher, at around a quarter (24%). 

Researcher Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, has made similar discoveries in her own study of internet searches for prayer across 75 countries. 

Bentzen, who is also the executive director of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics and Culture, found that "search intensity for prayer doubles for every 80,000 new registered cases of COVID-19". 

In March alone, she found that internet searches for prayer surged to their highest levels in the last five years, "surpassing all other major events that otherwise instigate intensified demand for prayer, such as Christmas, Easter, and Ramadan."

"In times of crisis, humans have a tendency to turn to religion for stress relief and explanation. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is no exception," she said.

"I document that Google searches on prayer has skyrocketed during the month of March 2020 when the COVID-19 went global."