How Catholics pray is as diverse as the church itself

In 2018 Pew estimated that 50 million Catholic adults live in the United States.

That’s a lot of Catholics—and we don’t all practice our faith the same way.

From daily Mass to meditation and yoga, there are many ways to pray.

U.S. Catholic surveyed readers to find out how they connect with God.

Of the 357 people who took our survey, 94 percent pray every day.

Fifty-nine percent prefer to pray alone, while 25 percent like to pray with their church community, and only 15 percent enjoy prayer with family or friends.

Almost half of the survey takers, 48 percent, say they pray most in their own home.

Only 21 percent favor prayer at church, and 11 percent connect most with God when they are outdoors.

“I pray mostly at night,” says Mary Lou White of Georgetown, Kentucky.

“That is when I am most focused—after everyone has gone to bed.”

Geri Mclaughlin of West Lafayette, Indiana says she feels “closest to God when in community with others.”

Many U.S. Catholic readers say they struggle to pray in places that are noisy.

David Santos of Denville, New Jersey says, “I find it hard to pray when there is a lot of noise around me. I would rather pray in solitude.”

Likewise, Beverly Eskel from Methuen, Massachusetts prays in quiet.

“I’m old,” she says.

“I have the luxury of having solitude in my own home and time to pray. Every morning, as I put my feet on the floor, I thank God for another day and the grace not to screw it up.”

“I find God in the smallest, most insignificant portions of my day. In particular, I pray as I fold laundry, cook for my family, and even vacuum the rug.”


Although only 25% of readers prefer praying during Mass, 74 percent attend service weekly.

Seventeen percent attend daily, while only 9 percent find themselves in the pews fewer than once per month.

“I usually find it hard to pray when there are a lot of people around,” says Morehead City, North Carolina resident Lynn Brugnolotti.

“The exception is when I attend Mass.”

“I stopped prayers of petition a long time ago. For me praying is seeing or trying to see others as part of Christ.”


In line with Brugnolotti, Christine Shannon of Danville, Illinois says, “Mass is by far my favorite form of prayer. When it has been convenient I have loved to attend daily Mass and did so for many years.”

But schedules make it harder at some stages of life, she says. Tom Rinkoski of Minneapolis agrees with Shannon on the benefits of praying in community.

He says, “I am an extrovert, so I like discussing spirituality, prayer, and scripture with folks the most.”

Rinkoski’s love of scripture is common.

Eighty-nine percent of survey takers engage with scripture outside of Mass, but only 28 percent are a part of a Bible study group.

However, 88 percent do not shy away from a faith discussion, saying they openly talk about their beliefs with others.

Judith Stafford of Morehead, Kentucky says, “I am part of a discussion group at my church, and we read different books that deal with faith.”

For her, being able to meet with the group is a special form of prayer.

Fiona Martingale from South Beach, Florida also connects most with God when she is with others.

“When I can talk about my faith and connect with people on theirs—especially those who have a different faith than I do, I feel most connected to God,” she says.  Continue reading

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News category: Analysis and Comment.

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