No Atheists in Foxholes?

"There are no atheists in foxholes" is an old saying meant to suggest that when soldiers are under enemy attack, even the most disbelieving among them is likely to pray for deliverance.

This month, survey results released in Britain give some substance to this controversial assertion. "A new survey has revealed that one in four non-believers pray when confronted by tough times—despite insisting they are not religious," the Daily Mail newspaper reported. These are people who say they don't believe in God—until personal tragedy strikes.

But for those who are religious, some 70 percent of prayers are for family matters, the survey also revealed. The next-highest ranking was for prayers of thanksgiving to God at 42 percent. Prayers for healing and the needs of friends each were found in 40 percent of prayers. Only 24 percent of those reporting their prayers said they prayed about global poverty and disaster situations.

The research was undertaken by polling firm ComRes on behalf of Tearfund, a Christian charity specializing in humanitarian aid. Among the survey's findings for adults in the U.K.:
  • Half (51%) say they ever pray
  • One in five (20%) say they pray regularly (at least once a month)
  • Women are more likely to say they ever pray compared with men (56% vs. 46%)
According to Britain's Guardian newspaper, some who remain unsure of God's existence still call upon God for help. "Henry, 64, said he prays every night, kneeling by his bed, despite not being religious," the paper reported. " 'I worry about it quite a lot. Is it some kind of an insurance policy, is it superstition or is it something more real?' "

Rachel Treweek, the Anglican bishop of Gloucester, told the Guardian, "We should not be surprised by these recent findings, which reflect human longing for the mystery and love of God amid experiences of daily life."

That "human longing" can extend even to those who say they don't believe in God. Searching for the supernatural can be sparked by many factors, including a personal crisis. We've seen countless testimonies of people who said they found their faith in Jesus after praying to God and asking Him to reveal Himself to them. That is one kind of heartfelt prayer that we believe God will always answer, because we've seen that time and again.

Faith, however minuscule at the start, is an element of answered prayer. If someone believes they're merely talking to the four walls of the room when they pray, then they are not likely to expect an answer, let alone find one.

The Bible, however, is filled with verses instructing believers on how to pray. The Lord gave us a model for prayer, with the command, "After this manner therefore pray ye" (Matthew 6:9).

If people who are unsure about their faith are willing to pray to God, how much more so should those who claim to follow this same God? Prayer is a habit that can be developed, and it's possible to pray in the manner Jesus instructed.

Teach Us to Pray is a FREE booklet resource available at the Amazing Facts website that will give you invaluable insights not only into how to pray, but also why Jesus instructed us to pray in the manner found in Matthew's gospel account. Click here to see it now.


NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

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