Internet searches for ‘prayer’ skyrocket during coronavirus crisis
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April 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A European professor has found that throughout March, internet search queries for the keyword “prayer” and related terms such as “God” “skyrocketed” as the world went into lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic.
According to the professor’s ongoing research, Google Trends data show that search queries for the term “prayer” doubled for every 80,000 new cases of the coronavirus in 75 countries, beginning in mid-March.
The data come from a draft paper by Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, an associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Her draft study is titled “In Crisis, We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic” and is framed around the question of “whether the COVID-19 crisis impacts one of the deepest rooted of human behaviors: Religion.”
Bentzen says her draft study shows that although humans historically call to God in times of crisis, the coronavirus epidemic reflects this fact on a scale not seen in years.
“We humans have a tendency to use religion to cope with crisis. The COVID-19 has proven no exception. The rise in prayer intensity supersedes what the world has seen for years,” said Bentzen.
“Furthermore, as more and more people lose their loved ones, the demand for religion is likely to rise.”
In her draft study, Bentzen looks at Christianity and other religions. Her research shows that internet searches for prayer were steady before rising quickly in correlation to new coronavirus cases in many nations.
Bentzen’s results show a strong jump in prayer searches in Christian countries in Europe and North America as well as Australia. She notes this is most likely because nations with a Muslim majority had not seen the pandemic “spread entirely to these countries at the time of writing.”
Although “global data” on people’s prayer habits “do not exist,” their internet searches for it do, says Bentzen. She notes that her results show that the intensified searches for the term “prayer” are global and include the search words “God” and “Allah” as well.
“In March 2020, internet searches for the topic ‘prayer’ surged to the highest level during the past 5 years for which comparative Google search data is available, surpassing all other major events that otherwise instigate intensified demand for prayer, such as Christmas, Easter, and Ramadan,” said Bentzen.
“I find that the intensified searches on prayer during the COVID-19 pandemic [are] global: It occurs on all continents and for Christians and Muslims. Even Denmark, one of the least religious countries in the world sees systematic increases in internet searches on prayer.”
Google trends is a site that provides data related to various internet searches using a variety of topics and parameters. For Bentzen’s main analysis, the site calculated the internet searches for prayer as a percentage of the total internet searches for each country at a specific point in time.
Bentzen noted that the results might underestimate the real-world demand for prayer, as the older members of the population are “not the most active internet users.”
The coronavirus has resulted in most churches around the world being shut down entirely or severely limiting what they offer the faithful. Despite this, a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that the coronavirus epidemic has changed the religious habits of Americans, showing that it is bringing more people to prayer.
The poll shows that a total of 55 percent of respondents say they are praying daily to God to bring an end to the pandemic. Of this number, 86 percent said they pray daily, while 15 percent said they rarely pray but have started to do so in light of the coronavirus.
Many world leaders such as U.S. president Donald Trump have called on their people to pray to end the coronavirus. Trump held a “National Day of Prayer” on March 15, saying, “No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!”
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison took part in an online video prayer in which he asked people to pray for Australians everywhere and for everyone affected by the coronavirus.
Pope Francis called on Christians around the world to recite the Lord’s Prayer on March 25, saying, “In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards heaven.”
After hearing of the news yesterday that the prime minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson, was admitted to hospital in his battle with the coronavirus, President Trump said his and Americans’ prayers are with him.