Google searches for 'prayer' skyrocket as coronavirus pandemic takes hold

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, the number of people Googling the word "prayer" has dramatically increased. This is according to Jeanet Bentzen, an economist at the University of Copenhagen, who released a report on her findings, titled: "In Crisis, We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic."   

Analysing the data from searches across 75 different nations, Bentzen found that Google searches on prayer "skyrocketed during the month of March 2020," which coincides with the period of time when COVID-19 began to rapidly proliferate across the globe." Indeed, the academic discovered an extraordinary numerical trend: the intensity for prayer continues to double for every 80,000 new registered cases of COVID-19.

Bentzen argued that the results should be seen as a method of "religious coping." 

"We pray to cope with adversity," she wrote.

In addition, Bentzen noted that the hunger for spiritual comfort will only continue to increase as the pandemic intensifies and the death toll ramps up.

"The rise in prayer intensity supersedes what the world has seen for years," she wrote. "The COVID-19 is still far from its peak and it only just reached the developing world. Furthermore, as more and more people lose their loved ones, the demand for religion is likely to rise. It is highly likely that the rise in prayer intensity will continue."

The surge in prayer may also be as a result of large-scale church closures.

"A factor pulling in the opposite direction is that the COVID-19 resulted in temporary church closures, to limit infection rates. Thus, part of the intensified searches for prayer may cover a move from prayer in the public to prayer in the private," Bentzen added.

A couple of weeks back, Pastor Joel Osteen's Texas megachurch, Lakewood, announced that it had been experiencing record-breaking viewing numbers ever since the coronavirus outbreak went global. “We saw 4.51 million people tune in throughout the weekend across platforms,” Lakewood detailed. “This broke our previous record of 4.17 million in November of last year when we broadcast Kanye West’s Sunday service from Lakewood."



02 Apr 2020

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