The results of a new survey from the United Kingdom suggest that younger generations are more inclined to pray and engage in religious activities, a contrast to a study showing that American young adults who proclaim a personal commitment to Christ are less likely to attend religious services.
The Savanta ComRes survey was commissioned by the Church of England and released Aug. 28, assessing over 2,000 adults in the U.K. aged 18 and over. The survey was conducted online between July 1 and July 3. In addition to age, the data accounted for factors such as gender, region and religious affiliation.
Less than half (49%) of all respondents reported that they have never prayed or attended a religious service either online or in person (excluding funerals and weddings). More than half (59%) said they have never read religious texts at some point in their lives.
The survey asked respondents to report how often they pray on their own or with others. Over half (56%) of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they have prayed at some point in their lives, and 32% claimed to have prayed within the last month. Among respondents 55 and older, less than half (41%) said they had ever prayed, and 25% stated they had done so within the last month.
Higher percentages of younger adults attend church services at least once per month than respondents ages 55 and over. Twenty-one percent of respondents ages 21 to 34 say they attend religious services at least once per month, while 14% of respondents ages 35 and up said the same.
“These findings really challenge the all-too-common assumption that young people are not interested in faith or spiritual things,” National Lead for Evangelism and Witness for the Church of England Rev. Stephen Hance said in a statement. “In fact they show us that — more than simply being interested in spirituality — they are already exploring it in practice, to a greater extent than their elders.”
Rev. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, a former university chaplain and a priest in Liverpool who co-authored The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook, said that people in older generations “were often brought up in a culture that taught them there was a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to pray.”
She said this means “they can be very self-conscious about their prayer life and spirituality.”
“In my experience, today’s young adults have been brought up to be comfortable with questions and experimentation: they know lots of people around the world do pray, and are willing to give it a go for themselves,” Threlfall-Holmes said in a statement.
Forty-nine percent of males and 46% of females responded that they had prayed at some point in their lives, while another 29% of males and 27% of females surveyed said they pray at least once a month.
Sixty-six percent of the 683 Christians surveyed said they had ever prayed in their life, compared to 40% that said they do so once a month and 19% who said they pray at least daily. Nearly a third of U.K. Christians surveyed (31%) confirmed that they have never prayed. About 23% of Christian respondents say they attend religious services at least once per month.
Out of a group of 94 Muslims surveyed, 85% said that they have prayed at some point in their lives, compared to 59% that said they did so at least once a month and 41% that pray daily. Only 6% of Muslims surveyed said they have never prayed. Forty-two percent of Muslims surveyed say they attend religious services at least once per month.
The survey found that 67% of Jewish respondents said they have prayed at some point in their lives, while 12% report doing so daily, 10% weekly and 24% at least once a month. About 21% of Jewish respondents say they attend religious services at least once per month.
The other participants who reported high levels of prayer include Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. All nine Sikhs surveyed say they have prayed and 66% say they pray at least once a month. Fifty-seven percent of Sikhs say they attend religious services at least once per month.
Eighty-nine percent of the 26 Hindus surveyed said they have prayed in their lives, with 59% reporting doing so at least once per month. Twenty-two percent of Hindus surveyed said they attend religious services at least once per month.
In an assessment of 13 Buddhists, 65% said they had prayed before, 25% responded that they do so at least once a month and 18% said they do so daily. No Buddhists surveyed said they attend religious services at least once per month.
Of those who had prayed, 69% reported praying for friends and family, 54% claimed to have prayed for someone they knew was sick and 51% said they prayed to give thanks.
The survey’s findings come as the August edition of the “State of the Bible: USA 2022” report from the American Bible Society suggests that 40% of Generation Z adults ages 18 and older attend church “primarily online.”
The study assessed 2,598 adults ages 18 and older within all 50 states and the District of Columbia collected from January 10-28, 2022.
Among the Gen Z and Millenial participants who made a meaningful commitment to Christ, 66% do not attend worship services in-person or online once a month. While 54% of all adults up to the age of 57 reportedly “made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today,” fewer than a third of the three youngest generations who made the commitment are practicing Christians.
Sixty-one percent of non-practicing Gen Z Christians say they have made a personal commitment to Christ, while 57% of their Millennial counterparts say the same. Only 28% of Gen Z respondents said they attend church at least once a month, while 22% of Millenials said the same.
Only 13% of Gen Z and 12% of Millennial respondents were considered “Scripture Engaged,” while Generation X, people born between 1965 and 1984, were the most engaged with Scripture (75%) among practicing Christians.