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Evolution of the prayer practice

Whether the prayer practice remains stable or is on the increase, it is nevertheless changing. According to the TSN-SOFRES survey on the French and prayer conducted in February 2007*, one out of two French people claims to "pray or meditate". These results are similar to those obtained in the survey carried out in 2001 where 50% of the French claimed to pray. Therefore, prayer does not seem to be in decline.
Meanwhile, the survey reveals its evolution to becoming a much more individualised activity. Thus, in 2001, when asked if they pray (excluding "meditation"), 57% of the French affirm to have never prayed and 13% claim to pray rather rarely.
It is also observable that prayer has been personalised as 48% claim to pray "in a group or with family" and this percentage has come down to 38% in 2007. The survey also reveals an activity that is less related to any institution or religious tradition. Thus, 80% of those who pray do it at home while there are 38% praying in places of prayer. There used to be 48% in 2001.
Finally, only 15% of those who pray affirm to pray "to Christ" while there were 25% of them in 2001. This evolution is much more visible among young people. Only 5% of young people within the age range of 25-34 and even 0% of those within the age range of 18-24 pray to Jesus.

4 pray to Jesus.asis: those who pray 22-24 March 2001 (42% of the sample) 14-15 Feb 2007 (41% of the sample)
- To God 65 59
- To the Virgin Mary 35 29
- To no one in particular 15 18
- To Christ 25 15
- To relatives, family and friends (Spontaneous answer) 5 6
- To saints (Spontaneous answer) 4 4
- Other answer 6 2
- No answer 2 3

In July 2014, an IFOP survey on The French and Mary shows that the practice of praying regularly to the Virgin Mary has diminished: from 31% of the French in 1988 to 22% in 2014.

* TNS-SOFRES survey conducted for Le Pèlerin weekly newspaper in February 2007. Detailed results of the survey are available on the La Croix website.

D 8 July 2014    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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