A new survey conducted by the American Psychological Society Association has revealed that the number of Americans turning to God in prayer to help them deal with stress is dwindling.
Just 29 percent of Americans polled said they pray to relieve stress. This indicates a gradual but consistent decline since the high of 37 percent recorded back in 2008.
“Do people consider prayer or attending church not necessarily something that manages stress?” asked Lynn Bufka, a psychologist with the APA’s Stress in America team. “We don’t know.”
The two most popular ways to relieve stress are listening to music (47 percent), and exercising (46 percent).
Kevin L. Ladd, a professor of psychology at Indiana University South Bend, said it makes sense that as society becomes less religious, fewer people are turning to prayer.
“There is certainly a shift in the American landscape, with people thinking about themselves as more spiritual than religious,” Ladd said. “Rather than having specific traditions offering some guidance in terms of specific practices, individuals tend to be creating their own practices that are personally meaningful.”
“Where the perception of God is secure, warm and loving, then prayer is associated with positive mental health outcomes and coping with stressors,” said Blake V. Kent, who studies prayer at Baylor University. “But when the perception of God is distant or disconnected, prayer is associated with negative outcomes.
A large proportion of Americans stated that they rely on those around them to help manage their daily stresses, as the report detailed:
“Many Americans understand that emotional support can be
crucial to dealing with the stress in their lives. Nearly three
in four Americans (74 percent) feel they have someone
they can rely on for emotional support, an increase of
8 percentage points since the survey first included the
question in 2014.”
As Christians, we believe that prayer can be an essential element of managing the daily stresses we all experience. When we give God our troubles and present our burdens to Him, He promises to ease our load and to give us the strength that we require to face the day.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6.