Australians turned to prayer during lockdown

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Nearly 30 per cent of Australians surveyed said they would like to continue praying more as restrictions ease. Photo: Shutterstock

Research shows new openness to sharing of faith in 2020

Australians have turned to prayer during the coronavirus pandemic, with many wanting to spend more time growing their faith once restrictions are lifted, according to a new study.

McCrindle Research said that about a third of Australians increased their prayer and other spiritual activities during the March and April lockdown, with 26 per cent wanting to retain that aspect of life going forward.

In looking at how people have been affected by COVID-19, it also showed that many enjoyed and would like to maintain a slower and more sustainable pace of life (49 per cent) with an emphasis on close relationships. More than half of Australians (52 per cent) spent more time with their family or household members and want this to continue.

“We know historically that in times of global crises these were times when people flocked to seek spiritual answers and support and guidance from Christian leaders,” Mark McCrindle told The Catholic Weekly.

“Times of uncertainty and anxiety get people thinking about Their own mortality and to be more open to looking at issues of faith.”

“Times of uncertainty and anxiety get people thinking about their own mortality and to be more open to looking at issues of faith. In this case we saw quite clearly that our own money, expertise and skills couldn’t save us from this little virus.”

The embracing of live-streamed Masses and video conferencing other faith initiatives signals a time of “great opportunities” for evangelisation, Mr McCrindle added.

Large gatherings [such as the World Youth Days] will be the last to return, but that will result in empowering churchgoers to share their faith in their own community and among their friends, “which is actually that original biblical model of discipleship,” he said.

The pandemic has seen a rise in activities such as the use of sacred spaces in homes.

Daniel Ang, Sydney’s director of Parish 2020, said that the accompaniment and support of spiritual curiosity in others is a great form of pastoral care any Catholic can offer “in an uncertain and anxious age”.

Asking questions to support and provoke ongoing reflection as Jesus Christ did is a good way to engage people’s increased curiosity and spiritual openness, he said. “We can gently enquire ‘So what’s been your story with God?’ or ‘What’s been at the heart of your prayer?’,” he said.

“Such questions invite people to share what lies underneath their renewed spiritual awareness.

“By offering experiences of prayer both online and as our churches re-open, and integrating into our works and ministries the testimonies of those who have been surprised by God’s work in and outreach to them, we encourage people to trust their own spiritual experience as a calling to something, or rather Someone, more.

“Recognising renewed interest in the transcendent we are perfectly placed to share the myriad of spiritual traditions of our Catholic faith with others, practices of prayer, adoration, the meditative reading of Scripture, and devotions that have led, sustained and grown the spiritual lives of Christians through the ages.”

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