A survey revealed that more young people in the UK are turning to prayer than 20 years ago, with one in three aged 18 to 36 claiming to have prayed in the past month.
The rise of awareness and spirituality in its many forms is thought to be behind the rise.
Here, six young people share their perspectives on prayer: why they do it and what it offers them.
‘With the world falling apart, God gives me reason to hope’
Ever since I got pregnant, I’ve been back to prayer. I was raised a Christian and went back from time to time. But this time things look different. With the world in ruins, God has given me a reason to hope and see beyond the despair of our current political and financial landscape. It’s a pretty scary time to bring a baby into the world with all the uncertainty – the financial situation and figuring out what kind of world he’ll be born into is pretty scary. Prayer has really helped me to get out of those world problems and to see things in a larger context. Tess Williams, 32, midwife, London
“My attitudes towards spirituality have softened”
I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family and, given my extremely religious upbringing, I left the church when I moved, feeling quite angry at how little I had a say about the religious rules I was expected to follow. But over the years I have found that my attitudes towards spirituality have softened and I have spent the last few years building my beliefs on my own terms.
As an animist-pantheist, I see existence as part of God, and therefore all living beings are sacred to me, as are all gods and spirits of all traditions. The main thing I get from this way of praying is the sense of being part of a community of people that exists on multiple levels. Rob, 32, software developer, Glasgow
“I pray to remind myself of the bigger picture”
The world looks like a pretty miserable place now and I find prayer a source of hope and power. I have been very involved in the community activities of the Bahá’í Faith from a young age, as well as observing its religious practices such as fasting and obligatory daily prayers. It motivates me to take care of others and to contribute my efforts to the betterment of society. I pray to remind myself of the “bigger picture” – that there is something bigger than my daily hustle and bustle. I try not to ask for specific things, but rather to be at peace with God’s will, or the “Universe” as you call it. Kai Lee, 28, architectural designer, London
“Faith Helped Me Process My Father’s Death”
I have always tried to be a good Muslim, but after returning from Mecca and Medina in 2018, I felt a much closer connection with my faith. It was something I have wanted to do for a while and have since been reading a lot more about Islamic history and how it relates to other religions. Praying makes me realize that there is a bigger picture, a greater purpose and importance in life than there is for me. Now, it’s something I look forward to and would often plan my day. My father died last year from Covid – my faith helped me process it and realize that this life is a journey. Shahin Ali, 35, teacher, Chester
“I connected to the faith after seeing the priests on TikTok”
I went to church with the Scouts when I was six or seven, but it was never regular – I didn’t really understand what was going on when I was that young. I didn’t grow up in a religious family and didn’t have a relationship with the faith until recently, when I started watching videos of the priests on TikTok. After I saw it and got interested, I was able to understand it a little more. I wanted to connect with faith because I wasn’t happy with how my life was going and I wanted to be better with other people. Developing my spiritual health made me feel happier. I pray because it is a way I can speak to God and give him my worries or concerns. I’m not involved in a particular church – I’m just trying to find my place right now. Thomas, 18, student, Wakefield
‘I use prayer as a grounding technique’
Growing up, I went to church with my parents, but when I grew up I had my plans and I quit. I rediscovered the faith after attending university when I entered Catholic society: it was a good way to not feel homesick. I live a busy life but still use prayer as a grounding technique, just like some people may use meditation or apps like Headspace. A few weeks I can only pray to Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things, because I have done something like losing my credit card or my favorite pair of pants. Other weeks in my day I really have time for more serious prayers. My partner’s grandparents died in the first six months of the year and this really increased my praying. Lucy Armstrong, 23, London