What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
For millions of people across the nation, the answer is, they pray.
When problems are too big for us to solve alone, how can we make a difference?
For millions of people across the nation, the answer is, to pray.
The problems facing our country this past year can seem overwhelming. The COVID-19 pandemic and the grief for so many lives lost, the ongoing political differences surrounding our nation and the continued reckoning we face regarding racial inequities – moving forward each day can seem difficult and emotionally draining.
I know what overwhelming feels like. A few years ago my business partner died suddenly in a plane crash outside Medellín, Columbia. I was overcome by shock, grief and anger; it was difficult to see a path forward. Thankfully, I discovered the power of prayer.
One of the things I learned about prayer is that it can bring people together as we express common concerns for the difficulties we face. Over the last year, prayer has been transformational in the lives of millions of individuals in our country. According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center, 82% of evangelicals, 36% of non-religious people, and 15% of those who rarely or never pray said they prayed for an end to the pandemic. We've seen this reflected in the user numbers of Pray.com, the app I founded after I realized how important and transformational prayer was in my own life. We saw growing numbers of people turning to prayer in our app during our time of social isolation, as it helped them stay connected with their faith and one another at a time when so many physical churches were still closed.
Researchers have found that prayer helps us to feel a stronger bond among those with whom and for whom we pray. It brings a closeness and a unity knowing that we are praying for the same thing, even if we are coming from different places in life. The busy Dallas soccer mom, the career-minded New York business professional or the northern California technology expert – we can find common ground in our belief in the power of prayer to change things.
One of the most powerful things about prayer is that it draws us closer to God, and as we are being drawn closer to Him, we are also being drawn closer to each other. We find when we come together in prayer that we hold more in common than we might think. While we may vote differently, a recent Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study tells us that both Republicans and Democrats believe in the power of prayer: 40% of people who pray daily are Democrats and 42% are Republicans. In addition, praying for those with whom we disagree can reduce our anger toward them, something sorely needed in these divisive times.
We were so encouraged to see this play out in our recent National Day of Prayer online event, in which individuals from across the religious and political spectrum joined together in prayer for our nation. We were honored to have both President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence participate as we came together over the common needs in our land, from praying for people to be vaccinated and protected from COVID-19 to praying for their mental health during this time of heightened grief and anxiety. I truly felt closer to people from all across our country than I ever had before as I saw the power of prayer to bring unity and promote reconciliation.
Prayer has changed my life. I believe in the power of prayer and I encourage everyone to do one thing proven to help unite us as a nation: pray. Being drawn closer to God is one of the most powerful effects of prayer. As we draw closer to Him, we are drawn closer to one another.
Steve Gatena is the Founder & CEO of Pray.com, the No. 1 app for daily prayer and faith-based audio content. Founded in 2016 with a mission to grow faith and cultivate community, Pray.com is the easiest way to incorporate prayer into your daily life.