Sometimes you find things on the internet that fill you with a righteous rage. So it was when I friend send me the link to Christian Prayer Center accompanied by a sad smiley face. The site was not in good taste, but it seemed benign on the surface. Closer inspection revealed a scam that’s a mockery of Christianity. My friend’s instincts were spot-on. No prayers are made or answered at Christian Prayer Center.
Let’s start with most damning charge that can be laid. They charge for prayer. Almost as if it were like buying detergent. A quick Google revealed that others had come across this site before and had detailed the process. You actually have to submit prayer request before being told you have to pay for it. This is disgusting.
They sell an offensive book that suggests you can pray so that your prayer will always be answered. Here is the blurb:
Have you ever wondered why God answers some prayers faster than others?
Does it matter how specific we are in asking for what we need?
What can we do to guarantee that our prayers will be answered every time?
If want to learn more about how to harness the fantastic power of prayer, I highly recommend “Miracles Through Prayer” by Pastor Randolph McFinn.
This enlightening guide details the five principles of effective prayer. Using real-world examples and easy-to-follow instructions, it’s the perfect resource for both the loosely religious and the highly devout. It answers questions many of us have about how prayer works, how God responds to our requests, and how to always make sure our prayers get answered.
This book is available for a limited time through the Christian Prayer Center for 20% off the cover price plus FREE shipping. Order your copy today and unlock the full potential of prayer.
What I find interesting about scams like this is how subtle they are. There is a way to make sure your prayers are always answered: pray for God’s will to be done (I suppose there is room for debate about this). But this is not what they mean. They mean that if you prayer for, say, financial success, then this is what you will get. The testimonials on the website are mostly of the following nature:
“When I got in from work this evening, I received a letter from IRS: Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien. The letter stated that over 10,000 dollars of back taxes has been satisfied. Thank you for all your prayers and I look forward to successfully sharing the job I will be landing next Tuesday.” -Joyce C.
This is a “prosperity gospel”: the idea that following God leads to success in (material) life (it doesn’t! It leads to success in your spiritual life.) Perhaps the most disingenuous part of the blurb, for me at least, was this: “it’s the perfect resource for both the loosely religious and the highly devout.” It is of course not true that prayer is more effective for the “highly devout” (although you can argue their prayers tend to be more in-line with God’s will). What is disingenuous about this statement is that it implies its perfectly OK to be ‘loosely religious’, that God is perfectly fine with people bending his arm for favours and doesn’t care at all about the lives they lead.
I am not against books that teach people how to pray. I am not against people giving and receiving prayer requests. These are good things. But prayer is about talking to God, not getting things from him. And prayer is not a game of numbers. It doesn’t matter how many people pray for you. And it certainly doesn’t help to pay them. It is sad that there are people that will exploit our basic human need to connect with the divine.
I am posting this in the hope that it will help prevent a few gullible souls from falling prey to these prayer-thieves. In the meantime I will send off a little prayer for these charlatans: I do not pray that they may receive their just desserts; rather, that they may feel, truly feel, the guilt that comes with true repentance and that they will be forced themselves to pray, to the God they have abused, for forgiveness.