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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 November 2007, 15:07 GMT
40% of adults pray, says survey
Woman praying
Family is the top prayer topic
People feel prayer changes their lives, with some 42% of UK residents saying they pray, research suggests.

Christian development agency Tearfund surveyed 1,000 randomly-selected adults and found one in six prayed daily and one in four at least once a week.

After praying, 38% reported feeling "peaceful and content" and 57% said it changed what happened in their lives.

The National Secular Society said it saw the survey as an attempt to mask the declining popularity of prayer.

But Tearfund, which also conducted a separate survey of 1,000 regular church-goers, said the findings highlighted the prevalence of prayer among those who no longer attended religious services.

'Prayers answered'

The survey was conducted by TNS for Tearfund to draw attention to its global poverty prayer week. The sample of over-16s were interviewed face-to-face between February and March 2007.

According to the survey, even people with no religion reported praying, with 12% praying sometimes.

Top prayer topics in order of popularity were family and friends, thanking God, guidance, healing and worldwide problems such as poverty, wars and disaster.

Tearfund said praying made 30% of people feel strengthened, 22% said they felt close to God, 21% said they felt reassured and safe and 19% said they felt happy and joyful.

One in three adults agreed with the statement "there is a God who watches over me and answers my prayer", according to the survey.

Young people were less likely than their elders to pray, with just over a quarter of 16 to 24-year-olds admitting ever praying.

The proportion of those praying rose steadily as people got older, reaching 51% of those aged 55 to 74 and a peak of 61% of over 75-year-olds.

'Not so rosy'

Matthew Frost, Tearfund chief executive, said: "This report means a great deal to us in our work to help to eradicate poverty through local churches by demonstrating the prevalence and potential of prayer."

But the National Secular Society dismissed the report as an "exercise in delusion".

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the society, said: "The Funds' figures do not look so rosy if expressed as 'two in three people do not believe that God is watching over them and will answer their prayers'.

"For those who pray - 62% do not think it makes them more peaceful and content, 70% do not find it makes them feel stronger, 79% do not feel reassured and 81% do not feel happier."

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