Norwich Christian leaders encouraged by UK prayer poll
A survey by Christian charity Tearfund has found that 51% of adults in the UK pray, including 20% that are not religious. Dave Elverson and Marcus Tutt, two Christian leaders in Norwich who actively lead people in prayer, are encouraged but not surprised over the results. Here they explain why.
According to a nationwide poll of 2,069 UK adults undertaken in December 2017 by ComRes for the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, 51% of adults pray. Even among those that say they are not religious, one in five say that they pray suggesting that prayer is still important to many people.
Responding to Tearfund’s survey, Dave Elverson who leads Norwich’s Kingdom Life Church and the Bethel Network, Global Legacy East Anglia (right with wife Holly) said: “I find it encouraging but not surprising to read the research that shows such a high proportion of people pray, including those who don't profess to have a faith in Jesus. The reason I don't find it surprising is that, whether we know it or not, we are all designed to have a relationship with God and at the heart of any relationship is communication.
“That is what prayer is, communication between a loving father and His sons and daughters. As we are designed by our creator for this relationship, it is natural for people for pray, whether they know what they are doing, how to do it or what to say!”
According to the survey among those who pray, over half say that they are most likely to pray in a crisis. The next most common reasons cited by those who pray is because they believe in God (39%), or because they believe that prayer makes a difference (32%).
Marcus Tutt, who leads a Healing Room at King’s Community Church in Norwich also recognises this impulse and writes: “Even those who don’t believe in God can find themselves praying in a time of crisis. We tend to pray when it really matters, as long as there is the faintest glimmer of hope that God exists and cares enough to help. Deeply felt need is the rocket fuel for a passionate prayer life, and it is ignited by the smallest spark of genuine faith”.
The results found that when it comes to the most popular topics of prayer among the 27 million of UK adults who say they pray, family (71%) leads the way, followed by thanking God (42%), praying for healing (40%) and friends (40%).
Dave Elverson notes that these topics have a close link to the Lord’s Prayer. He said: “The Lord's Prayer starts with praise and thanksgiving, something that came up in the survey. Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, that our needs and the needs of family and others around the world would be met. This was also reflected in the survey.
“The survey highlighted a large percentage of people who pray, do so for healing. This is something I have experienced personally. When lying in a hospital bed, paralysed from the neck down and with a prognosis that it would only get worse two friends prayed for me at the hospital and the next day I walked out fine!”
The new findings on prayer reveal a strong belief in the power of prayer to bring about positive change. Among those who pray, half (49%) agree that God hears their prayers and two in five (39%) agree that prayer changes the world. Praying also makes people feel better, with those who do so most likely to say they feel reassured or hopeful after having prayed (40% say this).
Before coming to faith Marcus Tutt, now on the Leadership Team of King's Community Church, also felt the need to pray for change in his life. He recounts: “Before I was a Christian, I prayed that I would marry this amazing beautiful girl I was madly in love with. It didn’t look very likely at the time for all sorts of reasons but wonderfully God answered that prayer and blessed me beyond what I could have even asked for or imagined at the time. I was asking for a human marriage, but he also saved me and now I get to be a part of the glorious goal of all history - the marriage, the union, between Christ and his Church. Wow!”
This year marks 50 years of Tearfund, and as part of this they have set a goal to see 1 million prayers raised this year to help end extreme poverty.
Dr Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund said: “It is encouraging to see that prayer is such an important part of life for many people in the UK. Whilst it is often easier to pray for issues closer to home, we want to encourage people to continue to engage with global issues and pray for an end to extreme poverty.”