If You Post It, They Will Pray
By ALLEN SALKIN - November 30, 2008
LET us pray that Steve will be receptive.
On the Web site prayabout.com, Steve’s wife, whose online profile notes that she is a Catholic from St. Charles, Mo., asked other users of the site to submit prayers that her husband will listen to his psychiatrist. She also asked for prayers that the psychiatrist will “see that my husband has major issues that need to be worked on ASAP.”
The post received 19 prayers in response. Jaqueline1712 from India asked Jesus to heal Steve’s broken spirit. A user from Kentucky, whose profile photo shows her hugging a baby, prayed that God would take away Steve’s anger.
“Give this family hope!” wrote Mr.Dan2, of New Mexico.
Prayer has found a home on the Web. Sites such as prayabout.com and ipraytoday.com have recently joined longstanding toll-free telephone services that allow anyone to request, for free, that strangers pray for them.
The most common prayers are for physical healing, Ms. Brown said. The second-most requested prayer is usually for inner peace, but, unsurprisingly, there has been a major uptick in the last few months in prayers about financial concerns.
The economy is clearly on the minds of users of prayabout.com, which made its debut a year ago and is not affiliated with any religion (although an advertiser is a Christian dating Web site).
One user, mmlgallow, requested prayers for his family business. “Please Father let our business pick up enough to pay our bills and break even so that we do not lose our home. I would also like to pray for the employees that we had to lay off that business picks up enough to bring their jobs back.”
Not everyone is playing nice. “There have been a lot of attacks on the site from militant atheists,” Mr. Desai said. “They have tried to exploit the site to spread their message.”
Instead of answering prayers, the atheists point to the Web site Godisimaginary.com. The site urges nonbelievers to spread the word by posting links to Godisimaginary on forums, blogs and news groups.
Paige Maurer Wheeler, the founder of ipraytoday.com, said the idea for the Web site, which she started last year from her home in Phoenix, came to her in a dream. “I told my husband, ‘I’m going to start a prayer Web site and we’re going to show the power of prayer.’ He said, ‘O.K.’ ”
Ms. Wheeler said she now has thousands of registered users and a stock of testimonials.
“We had a 78-year-old woman fall off a stool,” she said by telephone. “She was paralyzed. Her friend wrote in and said, ‘Pray for Marsha.’ And there she was, the next day, walking.”
MS. Wheeler said the stock of testimonials would be deeper, but her Web site programmer lost a lot of her data.
Which proves the old maxim true: "Garbage in, garbage out" in 'puter land.
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