By Aaron Earls
In 1952, Congress designated the first Thursday in May to be the National Day of Prayer. But most Americans say they pray every day, which makes the U.S. unique among wealthier countries.
Out of 102 countries examined, Pew Research found the U.S. to stand alone with high levels of wealth ($56,000 per-capita gross domestic product) and daily prayer (55%).
“In every other wealthy country surveyed—that is, those with a per-capita GDP over $30,000—fewer than 40% of adults say they pray every day,” according to the Pew report.
By contrast, poorer nations are more likely to have residents who regularly pray. Every country where at least 70% of adults say they pray each day has a per-capita GDP under $20,000.
Some poor countries are outliers in how little they pray. In Vietnam, which has a $6,000 per-capita GDP, 14% of adults say they pray every day.
Among all 102 nations surveyed, the national average of people who say they pray every day is 49%.
Certain regions appear to share similar rates of prayer. Nations in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia tend to have high numbers who say they pray daily.
Europe and other parts of Asia tend to have much lower prayer rates. Post-Christian European nations have some of the lowest levels of prayer, including Spain (23%), France (10%), Germany (9%), and U.K. (6%).
Among the nations surveyed, China (1%) had the smallest percentage of residents who say they pray every day.
South America has nations with high rates of prayer like Paraguay (82%) and Brazil (61%) alongside less prayerful nations like Chile (39%).
Aaron is a writer for LifewayResearch.com.