Business Opportunity Selling Prayer

by Brad Harmon on November 14, 2009 in Miscellany

little boy praying 300x227 | marketplace christianitySometimes you just have to shake your head in disbelief as you look at what people do in the name of God.  This week, while doing research for some blog posts, I came across a website called Information Age Prayer.

It seems that the selling of indulgences is back in vogue in the online world.  Where is Martin Luther when you need him?  It’s not just Christianity though, this website allows you to subscribe for a fee and receive prayers tailored to protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and even unaffiliated.

Information Age Prayer launched earlier this year with the goal of “helping those who are unable to pray as frequently as they would like.”  Okay, this seems to be a real need.  I am sure most of you will agree that we do not pray nearly as often as we should.

Haven’t we been down this road before though?  Is selling prayers the answer?

Selling of Indulgences & the Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was largely spurred on by the selling of indulgences by the Catholic church.  An indulgence is the full, or partial, remission of a temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the role they played in the Protestant Reformation.

Selling Indulgences & The Protestant ReformationIn 1517, Pope Leo X offered indulgences for those who gave alms to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  The aggressive marketing practices of Johann Tetzel in promoting this cause provoked Martin Luther to write his Ninety-Five Theses, protesting against what he saw as the purchase and sale of salvation.  In Thesis 28 Luther objected to a saying attributed to Tetzel: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs”.

The Ninety-Five Theses not only denounced such transactions as worldly but denied the Pope’s right to grant pardons on God’s behalf in the first place: the only thing indulgences guaranteed, Luther said, was an increase in profit and greed, because the pardon of the Church was in God’s power alone.

That saying would make a good jingle.  Unlike the old practice, the modern day version of this practice has no money-back guarantees.

As with all prayer, the final results are up to God as everything follows His will.  We make no claims regarding the efficacy of the service, however it is our opinion that the omniscient God hears the prayers when they are voiced, as He hears everything on this Earth.

Why Not Pay for a Valuable Service?

As a Christian Entrepreneur, there is no doubt that having someone pray for you, and your business, is an invaluable service.  If it’s so invaluable, and this company provides a solution to a real problem, then what’s the issue?

Why Not Pay for Prayer?Well, it’s a bit like ignoring your wife and paying your friends to tell her how much you love her.  I’m pretty sure she will not give them much heed; especially, if she knows they were paid to do so.

If this won’t work for your wife, why would anyone think it would work on an omniscient God?  Bringing our petitions to God has more to do with the person praying than it does with notifying God of our needs.

Prayer is an act of obedience that demonstrates our faith in Him as our provider, belief in His sovereignty over all things, and acknowledgment that He is a loving God that wants to bless us.

Effective prayer teaches us humility by forcing us to think of others and their needs before our own, and calls us to personally become involved in fulfilling these needs.

Hello God, Please Hold for an Important Message

So who will be praying for you with this service?  It’s some really great prayer warriors, right?  Well, not exactly.  Here’s how they do it.

We use state of the art text-to-speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying. Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.

Umm, excuse me?  A computer is going to pray for me?  God is answering prayers from my computer now?  Has my computer been secretly praying all these years behind my back?

The omniscient God knows exactly who has subscribed and who each prayer is from when their name is displayed on screen and their prayer voiced. He is also aware of all donations to charity from each subscriber and we can surely make a difference in these charities supported.

I am so glad that the omniscient God is alerted that it’s my prayer being voiced by flashing my name on the screen.  That’s a real relief!

Hail Marys for Less than a Text Message!

My favorite offer is The Hail Mary Prayer package.  I am not Catholic, so I am missing something here?  They seem to be really proud of this package.

Here is where the Information Age Prayer service really shines allowing you to purchase more than you would ever be able to say on your own. Sign up for the Hail Mary Prayer and they will be voiced for less than the cost of a text message!

I’m pretty sure that you don’t have to be Catholic to realize this service is ludicrous.  It’s like those computer generated flirt text messages you can pay a monthly subscription to receive.  I honestly do not get it.

I am sure some people will purchase prayers from this company.  There are so many people suffering and in real need in the world.  They are seeking answers wherever they can find them.

Won’t you join me and tell them that they can have our prayers for free?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon Cox November 15, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Good grief! I really thought it might've been a joke, but it's an actual service. I'm thinking from a marketing perspective, they should read Trust Agents. From a theological statement, they should read the Bible.

I do love the way you've drawn such interesting observations from it!

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Brad Harmon November 15, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Nope, it is a real service. There was another service I saw last week that used live people, but I couldn't find the website again.

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human3rror November 15, 2009 at 10:01 pm

yeah, i covered this a while back. lots of comments…

http://churchcrunch.com/dont-pray-enough-have-t

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Brad Harmon November 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Wow, that is a lot of comments! I wonder how many people would consider this a valid service if they replaced the computers with people?

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human3rror November 15, 2009 at 10:36 pm

hmm. that's an interesting thought.

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bradleyjmoore November 16, 2009 at 6:22 am

I feel sorry for the people that this would actually appeal to. It's like watching some of the really bad televangelists, knowing of the poor people that are sending them the few dollars that they have.

Really sad and weird.

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Brad Harmon November 16, 2009 at 7:17 am

The same thought crossed my mind as well. It reminded me of a local televangelist, Robert Tilton, who used a lock box to process the contributions and prayer requests he received from his viewers. The check went to the bank and the prayer request was trashed never reaching Tilton who was to pray over the requests.

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Rita November 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm

How much faith can a person have if they are not doing the actual praying. God will NOT answer prayers if you don't have faith. Having faith is not easy to come by. It requires constant prayer and studying the bible (not just reading it!). It's great to have someone pray for you, but I don't trust everyone to pray for me. They may be praying to a false god. No, thank you.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 KJV (This is real faith)

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Brad Harmon November 17, 2009 at 12:06 am

I think it was one of human3rror's commenters that made the point that this is only attractive to those who look at prayer as an obligation or a duty. If it's just something that you rush through so you can check it off the list, then maybe it's not a bad idea to just let a computer do it for you.

I don't think there is any basis in Scripture for the view that it's an obligation. Prayer is a personal, intimate conversation with a loving God. I'm just not buying that a computer, made to simulate human speech patterns, is the same thing.

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Laurie Neumann November 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Well, I think I have heard everything now. This is unbelievable. Can they be serious?

Praying to God gives you an opportunity to build a relationship with Him. I love your example of having your friends talk to your wife. That would make for a great relationship, wouldn't it?

I know sometimes we can look at prayer as an obligation, but it's really a privilege. It's a chance to come to God and communicate with Him. That can never be replaced with a computer.

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Brad Harmon November 22, 2009 at 6:49 am

I think you would have to look at it as an obligation to even consider this service. It cracks me up that they simulate the speed and volume of a human praying. I guess all those silent prayers didn't count? 😉

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