It’s no secret that scores of Christians turn to the Bible each and every day for general guidance as well as to gain insight and perspective on the countless cultural and political events unfolding around them.
That’s why Faithwire asked the creators of the YouVersion Bible app — an app that’s been downloaded more than 237 million times around the world — what patterns they were noticing among readers before and after last week’s presidential election.
So, they dove deep into the data to explore what users were searching within the Bible app during the three days after the election and compared those terms to the same time frame the week before the election; their findings were intriguing.
Bobby Gruenewald, innovation pastor of Life.Church and founder of YouVersion, told Faithwire on Thursday that he’s not entirely surprised to see some massive upticks in certain election-related search terms, considering the intense national and international attention the campaign garnered — and also considering peoples’ tendency to “turn to the Bible for guidance.”
“Outside the typical search terms, the number one increase we saw was people searching for what scripture says about praying for our leaders, which was encouraging,” Gruenewald said. “We believe prayer is powerful and moves the heart of God. The Bible has a lot to say about prayer.”
With that in mind, there was one Bible verse in particular that garnered the most attention: 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads, “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
First, let’s explore the more general electoral themes that were searched. There was a nearly 1,400 percent increase in searches for the term “ruler” the three days after the election compared to the same timeframe the week before. Likewise, there was a 940 percent increase in “leaders,” a 925 percent increase in “kings” and a 900 percent increase in the term “government.”
When it came to prayer more specifically, there were big increases in searches for the terms “pray for your leaders” (2,071 percent), “pray for leaders” (1,883 percent) and “pray for those in authority” (1,423 percent).
And as for terms involving healing the land, there were notable increases among those searching “heal our land” (827 percent), “heal the land” (784 percent), “I will heal their land” (860 percent) and other related terms.
Gruenewald said he and his staff were encouraged by the increased attention given to this verse and to the themes surrounding the importance of prayer, especially following such a divisive time.
“Politics tend to polarize people and especially during an election season. We were pleased to see our users seeking out scripture about humility and healing,” he said, adding, “The biggest increase in searches were searches about praying for your leaders and God’s peace falling on our nation. No matter what candidate a person supported, users were able to look to scripture for direction.”
Gruenewald also noted the tendency for people to search for specific Bible verses that public figures might mention in public speeches and addresses — and that’s exactly what happened after Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton cited Galatians 6:9 during her concession speech.
Clinton said, “You know, scripture tells us let us not go weary in doing good for in good season we shall reap. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.” The verse reads, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
In the end, Gruenewald said the Bible is relevant for peoples’ everyday lives, speaking wisdom and guidance into personal, national and global issues.
“This isn’t just a hypothetical,” he said. “We’re able to see this consistently in the data as millions of people use the Bible App each day.”
Interestingly, a separate analysis by Bible Gateway, another online Bible resource, found that the same verse — 2 Chronicles 7:14 — was the most prevalent during the 2016 presidential campaign; some of the same terms were also searched on Nov. 9 on Bible Gateway as were searched in the days after the election on the YouVersion Bible app, according to Christianity Today.
Find out more about the YouVersion Bible app.
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