Catholic women who regularly attended Mass were the most likely to report that, outside of Mass, they prayed every day (81 percent). But more than half (57 percent) of those who attended Mass less than weekly but more than once a month also prayed daily. A little over a third (35 percent) of those who attended Mass a few times a year or more rarely also prayed daily.
We asked women about the circumstances in which they regularly prayed. A third (33 percent) of the women in our sample did not engage in any of the three practices of regular prayer that we asked about: prayer when waking up, prayer when going to bed and prayer before meals. A little over a quarter (28 percent) participated in at least one of these practices, and a fifth (19 percent) relied on all three.
Sustaining prayer practices of this type were correlated with age and Mass attendance. Millennials (44 percent) were twice as likely as pre-Vatican II Catholics (23 percent) to have none of these regular prayer practices. A quarter (27 percent) of pre-Vatican II Catholics relied on all three of these practices, while only 10 percent of millennials did the same. For the most part, the intervening generations traced the decline in prayer.
The infrequency of prayer by millennials was not simply a matter of decreased Mass attendance. When millennials who attended Mass regularly were compared with regular Mass-going Catholic women of preceding generations, the gaps narrowed but were still noticeable. Among Catholic women who rarely attended Mass, millennials were the most likely of the generations to have no daily prayer practices.
This article is one of four short explorations of the data found in the America Survey, commissioned by America Media and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Read the other three here:
What Catholic women actually believe about Natural Family Planning
How many Catholic women have considered religious vocations?
What Catholic women believe about Mass attendance, confession and God's existence