Searching for Prayer
Right now is someone typing the words ‘how to pray’ into Google? What response are they finding?
Recently I read an article in Relevant on The Theology of Google Autocomplete. It is an interesting article about what questions of faith people are typing into Google. The author types in a variety of queries to determine what some of the most common questions are about Christians, God and the church. The list shows some interesting results.
Reading the article allowed me to ask the question I wonder what people in my community are asking Google about the church, prayer and Jesus. What are the questions which people are seeking answers to.
With this in mind I decided to do some unscientific research of my own. Google has a keyword search tool which enables you to determine what people are searching for based on certain other keywords. This service used to be public facing, however now it is integrated into their Adwords platform. Fortunately, I have an active Adwords account. Please note that there are other services which will help you do this research, but they are all looking to sell you something at the end of the day.
In creating my search I entered the following information:
- The local community which I live in
- The following search terms: Jesus, God, Church, Prayer
What I discovered was that there were approximately 500 searches for these terms in the past month. Considering that I live in a community of 18,000 it is a small percentage. However, it tells me that people are searching. To give an idea of scale the city of Toronto which has 2 million people had just under 30,000 people search for these same terms.
What did I learn?
It seems that most people who are searching for these terms in my area are asking questions about prayer. This is followed by questions about Jesus and God. Specifically people are asking Google for:
- Daily prayer
- Prayers for the sick
- Morning Prayers
- Who is Jesus
- When was Jesus born
- Where was Jesus born
- Kingdom of God
- Where is Go
- Names of God
This is just a small sample of some of the queries that people within my own community are typing into Google. The frustrating part about having this information is that I do not know who these individuals are and I cannot answer them directly. However, it is clear that people have questions about matters of faith. Whether they are already sitting in the pews of a church or are seeking.
What we need to do is find ways to share the Good News with these and other people. It is clear that certain misconceptions and stereotypes exist and it is up to the church to provide good clear answers on these issues.
How can we leverage technology and witnessing to provide answers to those who are asking?