Every day when Dan Brereton goes for a walk and looks up at the Wasatch Mountains, he offers a silent prayer of gratitude to God for creating such beauty.
He doesn't need to be in a church to feel God's presence. He prays as he meditates throughout the day. When he observes someone performing a kind act for someone else, he asks for God's blessing upon them. As our national leaders struggle with the crisis in Haiti, Brereton faithfully offers prayers for their inspiration - and he fully believes his prayers will be answered.Brereton is among the 72 percent of Utahns who pray on a regular basis, according to results of a Deseret News/KSL-TV Dan Jones poll.
Poll results showed that 17 percent of Utahns interviewed do not pray; 9 percent pray as the need arises.
An 85 percent majority of those who pray on a regular basis believe that their prayers are answered mostly in the affirmative. Only 3 percent believe their prayers are usually not answered.
Ninety-five percent pray for personal concerns, for their loved ones and for global issues such as world peace and homelessness.
A Gallup poll released in February this year shows Utahns' devotion to praying is consistent with national statistics. The Gallup poll showed that nine out of 10 Americans pray frequently and believe that God answers prayers.
Since he retired a few years ago, Brereton, a widower, attends mass almost every morning at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City. After receiving Holy Communion, he picks up his cherished rosary beads that his deceased father gave him when he was a child, and sits in silence in the cathedral, slipping the worn beads through his aged hands.
His mother taught him to honor the Blessed Mother of God through the rosary prayers. The beads guide his meditations as he reflects on the life of Jesus Christ. For centuries, Catholics have used the rosary, a circle of 50 connected beads, to contemplate the mysteries of Christ and ask Mary to intercede with Christ on their behalf.
"I pray for family members and friends who are deceased. I pray that they will have eternal salvation," said Brereton.Throughout his life, Brereton has believed in prayer, but what he prays for has changed as he has matured.
"I used to ask for material things that I wanted. Now, I focus my prayers more on the needs of others. It gives me joy to bless others through my prayers."
Having faith in God and the power of prayer, skeptics argue, is easier if prayers are answered in a positive way. For instance, it's likely easier to believe in God if a loved one prayed for recovers from illness than if the person dies. How do believers justify the healing of some, while others die?
Brereton has experienced his share of sorrows, disappointments and death of loved ones. Does he lose his faith when the answer to his prayers is "no"?
"I'm a believer in accepting the will of God. He's number one. Looking back on my life, I'm grateful that God's answer to some of my prayers has been `no.' He knows what's best."
Brereton receives strength by focusing on the sacrifice of Christ and his mother, Mary.
"Can you imagine the sorrow Mary experienced as she saw her son suffering on the cross? How many of us have had to watch a child of ours die?
"When I pray, I meditate on the sorrows I face in my own life and I reflect on the pain that God and the Blessed Mother have endured. I know through my prayers that I'll have courage to conquer my own challenges. My prayers are my source of joy and my strength - regardless if they are answered as I would choose. Who knows better than God what the `right' answer to prayer should be?"
Deseret News/KSL Poll
Do you pray on a regular basis?
At Least once a day 62%
At Least once a week 10%
Do Not Pray 17%
Don't know/refuse 2%
If you Pray...
What do you pray for?
Personal concerns (Yourself and loved ones) 31%
(Homelessness, Poverty, Peace, etc.) 0%
Other matters 3%
All of the above 64%
Don't know/Refuse 1%
Do you believe prayers are answered?
Mostly in the affirmative 85%
Mostly in the negative 1%
Ususally not answered 3%
Never answered 2%
Don't know 9%
Does not apply 1%
Poll conducted Aug. 23-25, 1994. Margin of error + or - 4% on interviews of 605 adult registered voters. Conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, 1994 Deseret News. Dan Jones & Associates, an independent organization founded in 1980, polls for the Deseret News and KSL. Its clients include other organizations and some political candidates.