Thursday, March 26, 2009

When Prayer and Computer Tech cross the line

(From the website):
Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day.

And thus we remove the whole purpose of prayer.

Prayer is not about "incanting" a rote formula each day. As my husband says, that's magic, not prayer. Prayer is about a relationships between the person praying and the Creator. It's about communication with heart and soul as well as words.

So why have rote prayers at all?

--For the times when your own words don't come easily.
--For an aid to memory or meditation. For example, the rosary is not so much about reciting a bunch of "Hail Mary"s. When done right, it's a meditation on the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of his mother. The prayers are there for rhythm, for concentration and to remind us of Jesus's humanity as well as his divinity.
--Because sometimes other just say it better. Once upon a time, it was considered flattering and even romantic to seranade your loved one with a song or a poem. Now, we give each other cards.

God doesn't want you paying someone to fill the ether or cyberspace with a lot of words because you're too busy to give Him a few minutes a day. God wants YOU, talking to Him, sharing with Him, speaking and being ready to listen.

Give Him your time; don't give your money to some automated prayer site. That's missing the point.

BTW, any Catholics reading this are welcome to join the Catholic Writers Guild Prayer Chat every weekday at 12 EDT. Yeah, it's on-line, but we're the ones gathering and praying, not some recording.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the high-tech cyber-version of Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels.

Karina Fabian said...

The wheels pray for you? I'm not familiar with them. However, this website claims to pray for any denomination. Just pay your fee and don't worry about having to take time out of your busy day to be with God--we'll send your words up for you.

Sorry, but that's not prayer.

Daniel C. Starr said...

The Japanese Buddhists have a similar system. When we were over there a couple years ago, we visited a temple that had a big (say, eight feet on a side) rack of scrolls mounted on a central pivot. The scrolls contained all the Buddhist sutras (prayers), and, according to the temple, grabbing the big handle and rotating the rack one full turn bought you the karmic credit of actually saying all the sutras. A good deal, it would seem, as there are several thousand sutras in the set!

In another temple we saw a string of several hundred wooden beads, each an inch or so in diameter, suspended from the ceiling. Again, the beads represented sutras, and spinning the string was supposed to be the equivalent of praying the sutras. So... mechanically-assisted prayer is a fairly regular part of Japanese Buddhism.

While we're on the subject, let's not forget the middle-ages Christian practice of walling people up in little cells in the monastery (anchorites, I think they were called), so that their lives could be dedicated to praying for the king or the Pope or the bishop or whatever. Apparently the state and church officials were in great need of prayer (I guess it's hard to run a nation and/or a church without sinning a lot), but too busy to pray themselves...

Karina Fabian said...


It's not that it's hard to run a country or a church without sinning, but it there is a lot of temptation, and simply a lot of difficult decisions. I still pray for world leaders, though I'd rather not get "walled up." Not my calling!

As for the monk praying--he wasn't there so that others could skip out. People were still expected to make their own prayers. Further, those monks were PRAYING--not reciting a bunch of words for pay.

Interesting abut the prayer wheels. Not sure why that counts with god as prayer--any Buddhists out there who can enlighten us?