"More people praying during lockdown..." That't a headline news on churchtimes.co.uk on May 3, 2020. About a quarter of adults in the UK have followed a religious service on air or online since the coronavirus lockdown began, a new Tearfund survey suggests. Even one in 20 adults have started to pray during the crisis, despite not praying before.
Of those British who pray at least once a month, 45% said that they were praying during the crisis because they believed in God; 33% said that they believed that prayer made a difference; 26% said that they prayed in times of crisis or tragedy; and 24% said prayer was a source of personal comfort as well as to ease feelings of loneliness.
What about prayer before the lockdown? According to a Savanta ComRes survey, nearly 3 in 5 adults (57%) in Great Britain say they never pray, up from 49% in 2017. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 12% of British adults say they pray at least once a day. In contrast, a Pew Research Center survey in 2019 showed that 49% of Americans say they pray daily.
It's understandable that more people turn to God in a tragedy or crisis. But others may lose faith in God when they are dealing with tragic events. They may even ask, "Where is God?"
While prayer often means a petition for help, it is much more than that. It is about being connected to God, to be in communion with him, to abide in the One who is the source and summit of our lives. This same God is also the source of love, making us in his image, giving us the ability to love and to be loved.
Being loved by our parents is our first experience. But do you realize that it's God who loved you first, even before you were born? Even if a mother forgets her child, God will never forget you (Isaiah 49:15). A preacher once said that in our relationship, we should focus first on letting God love us - with all our weakness, brokenness, sinfulness. Once we experience God's love, we can't help but love God. We will not be able to be indifferent to the One who longs to be with us, to spend time with us.
In sum, to pray is to be in the presence of, to be connected with, to abide in the God who is fond of us, falls in love with us, can't wait to embrace us in his love. Only in God can our deepest thirst and longing is satisfied. Prayer is helpful not because we get what we want, but because the God of love gives us what we need, even when we don't realize it. Remember the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. He was asking for water, but it's she who found in him the living water. In that sense, praying is like drinking life-giving water.
(Articles on devotions and spirituality are to follow)
The Rosary Group consists of men and women who are devoted to Our Blessed Mother. They usually attend weekday 9:00 am Mass and then stay in church to recite the rosary for peace and conversion. They also pray for all friends who are ill in the parish and any others whose names are given them. A list is kept of all who need prayers or are mentioned for special intentions. Also, an evening prayer and rosary group meets Thursday evening at 7:30 pm in Room A in Ascension Church.