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Prayer app reveals the most popular choices by America's college students during Lent

College students' top prayers on the Christian prayer app Hallow this season of Lent are the "Pray40" series on suffering — as well as the St. Michael's Prayer. Here's why.

The most popular prayers by college students in America during Lent have surprised the team at Hallow, the Christian prayer app, its co-founder told Fox News Digital.

"Across our partner college campuses, the most popular prayers on Hallow during Lent have been from our Pray40 Challenge," Hallow co-founder Alessandro DiSanto said in an email exchange.

The Pray40 challenge "explores the life of Fr. Walter Ciszek and the inspirational spiritual journey he underwent while enduring immense suffering in Soviet prisons and labor camps in Siberia for more than 20 years," he said. 

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Ciszek, now known in the Catholic Church as "Servant of God Walter Ciszek," was a Jesuit priest who served as a missionary in the Soviet Union. 

He was arrested in 1941 as he was believed to be a "Vatican spy," according to the Jesuits' website. While in a Soviet prison, he continued his priestly ministry. 

In 1963, as part of a prisoner swap, Ciszek returned to the United States. He died in 1984 and his cause for canonization opened in 2012, said the Jesuits. 

The second most popular prayer, the St. Michael the Archangel prayer for protection, also took Hallow employees by surprise, said DiSanto. 

"Sacred music and daily prayers such as the rosary are still popular, but it’s clear college students are turning to prayer to grapple with processing the concept of good and evil and the reality of hardship," he said. 

Pope Leo XIII in 1884 composed the St. Michael's Prayer, following "a frightening vision of Satan’s demon trying to destroy the world," said DiSanto. 

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St. Michael is one of the three archangels mentioned in the Bible, and is acknowledged "as both a champion of justice and guardian of the Church," he said. 

"It has remained a popular prayer ever since it was first shared with the Church," noted DiSanto. 

It also experienced a surge in popularity in 2018, he said, when Pope Francis encouraged Christians to pray the prayer in order to "protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other." 

DiSanto told Fox News Digital that earlier in the year, Hallow surveyed college students at seven schools about the types of prayer content they were interested in and hoped to see in the future.

"The top choice by far was something exploring the topic of suffering," he said — which coincides with "rising levels of anxiety diagnoses, depressive episodes and suicide attempts among young people." 

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"Recognizing that so many young people are stressed out, it makes sense that college students are gravitating toward prayers like the St. Michael prayer for protection and seeking out ways to navigate and redeem their suffering," he said. 

Stress and mental health "might not be topics they’re comfortable chatting in a dorm with friends about, but God is always present to these students," he said.  

"Hallow helps them find their way into the same room with God to wrestle with these heavy topics and seek His guidance and protection," DiSanto added. 

Amanda Baez, a Hallow ambassador at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, told Fox News Digital that her prayer life and understanding of suffering has improved with Hallow.

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"Suffering is such an integral part of our human nature. It’s a commonality that we all share and question," she said. 

"With Pray40 centered on this theme, we’ve all been so eager to grow in redemptive suffering," she added. 

"In trusting God that our suffering can be redemptive, like those we have heard in Pray40, we’re able to see things in a new light." 

Pray40 and other prayers "have brought us closer as a community this Lent, encouraging each other to journey into the desert in the spirit of surrendering in God," she said. 

"These prayers have brought us closer as a community this Lent, encouraging each other to journey into the desert in the spirit of surrendering in God."

Juliana Calzonetti, a Hallow ambassador from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, shared similar sentiments. 

"Pray40 and the St. Michael Prayer has been so impactful for my peers," she said, "because college can be a whirlwind of stress and pressure in many ways." 

She added, "This Lent and Pray40 has been an amazing combination to help people let their guard down and acknowledge their own suffering, and be more united with Christ leading up to Easter."

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle

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