Internet guiding majority, not prayer

Wed 11 Oct 2017
By Alex Williams

Only six per cent of people would turn to prayer in the first instance when faced with a life-changing decision, new research has suggested.

A poll conducted by ComRes concluded people in Britain are far more likely to consider loved ones (77 per cent) or the internet (51 per cent) their first or second go-to source of guidance.

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Professor Stephen Bullivant from the Benedict the Sixteenth Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary's University in Twickenham pointed out the results do not mean most people shun prayer entirely.

He said: "It's quite possible that several of the people who say 'I'd talk to my friends and family, and I'd Google it' might also pray, but [in] every survey we do we see the vast majority of British people aren't terribly religious."

The study was commissioned by Christian journalist Ruth Gledhill ahead of her speech during the Ebor Lecture event in York on Wednesday.


She said: "I was terribly surprised by how few people use prayer, or a book such as the Bible or a religious source such as a priest as their first or second choice to turn to for advice.

Twenty-three per cent of respondents answered that they would consult an expert, four per cent social media and two per cent a priest.

Ruth Gledhill added: "I think these findings represent both a challenge and opportunity for the churches. The challenge is for the local vicar to become seen as one of those friends that we turn to."


Professor Bullivant suggested not all decisions necessarily hinge on prayer. He added: "Whether to remortgage the house or get a second car, these just aren't the sort of things that even highly-committed religious people do.

"Getting a loft extension is not the kind of issue that we're [my wife and I] going to talk to our priest about or even necessarily feel comfortable about taking to our Lord in prayer."

Click here to listen to Premier's Eno Adeogan speaking with Professor Stephen Bullivant:

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