"Another round please, barkeeper!" You could almost sense the positive spirits at the table. The five young men at the table in the small bar in Berlin were in the state of euphoria that alcohol can sometimes induce. Currently, the talk circled around the topic "we are Pope" and the new German tendency towards faith. "It's disgusting how people fall into medieval religious behavior", said Robert, a slim business student. "My great aunt now sends locks of her grandchildren's hair to a cloister in Poland and these guys will pray for the kids ... if she's lucky".
"But why not, that's a real nice business model", said Peter, who did not even have his bachelors degree in economics yet. "The people pay for nothing, and they still feel good about it. That's what you call a win-win deal".
"But wait a second, can't you offer such a thing over the net?", said Klaus, a computer science student in his seventh semester. "You take a picture of the lock, upload it over the net, punch in your credit card number and people will pray for it".
"Hmmm, you don't pray yourself, but you let someone else pray for you. That's clever, and fits well into the new service oriented society."
"But what can you have others praying for? Health, promotion, winning the lottery?" Now the discussion really started. There was lots of booze and laughter, and finally people took out their pens and the bartender brought over a piece of paper, and a raw outline of a web page was soon created.
Login as a customer
Login as a person who will pray
Create an account
Become a person who prays with PrayForRiches.com
Current praycams online
Information about PrayForRiches.com
Place a banner ad
Feedback about PrayForRiches.com
Now the fantasy kicked in. "Praycams are really terrific, so you can watch the faithful idiots doing their commercial prayers. And in the background you can see a board with the ordered numbers."
"The prayshop is going to be great. You can order candles, t-shirts, robes, and prayer rugs with the PrayAndWin.com logo on them."
"Recruiting the active prayers could be done really easily in church parking lots. We'll put a flyer on their windshield. Why don't we really make a website out of it, of course just for fun. We would have lots of hits, and spend the banner ad money on booze, maybe every Friday."
So they indeed decided to create a website. That very evening they created a document with information about PrayForRiches.com on that piece of paper with the booze ad on top of it:
Information about PrayForRiches.com
PrayForRiches.com is a commercial service in the field of praying for the outcome of lotteries and bets.
Our freelance prayer people will pray for the result of the desired event, which (in the first phase of our business model) will be exclusively lottery numbers.
We will only charge for our services if the customer wins. It is a pure commission based model. The customer will need an account which can be set up online and is free of charge. Then the desired number combination and the name and date of the lottery drawing can be specified.
We pray in different categories. In the introduction phase, we only do Christian Ecumenical prayers. The most simple and least expensive category (5 minutes of intense prayers) will trigger a share of 10% of the proceeds. Each additional minute of prayer will cost an additional 1% of the winnings. For example, 20 minutes of prayers will cost 10% for the first 5 minutes and a further 15% for the additional 15 minutes. In total, a 25% share will be earned by PrayForRiches.com for the 20 minutes of prayers.
The purchase of the lottery ticket is the duty of the customer. PrayForRiches.com will charge for its share if the customer has not actually placed a bet, or bought a ticket. In this case the customer is responsible for our percentage.
PrayForRiches.com employs free lance prayer persons. A good part of the monthly income will be paid to these prayer persons based on the minutes prayed each month.
The prayer people will have to set up a webcam as a prayercam at their own cost and will have to login before beginning a prayer session. They will then be provided with prayer orders. PrayForRiches.com will randomly verify that the prayer persons are doing their duties.
Every prayer service can be verified. The registration number of the prayer person and his prayer pseudonym will be listed along with the prayer date and time. This information will be emailed to the customer. No charges will apply should PrayForRiches.com not have enough prayer person capacity. Partial prayer services will be charged by the minute.
Any citizen of legal age can be a prayer person. A minimum of faithfulness is expected to ensure efficiency and piety. Every prayer person is an independent pray contractor and is personally responsible for the timely payment of taxes.
A registration form to become a pray person can be done online. The pray person can select a pseudonym. All names have to be Biblical, and if necessary we will number the prayer persons in the tradition of clerical names, for example Moses XXVII.
During the next few weeks the computer gurus amongst the students, Claus and Andy, started to work on the website. Other group members also provided additional text. Of course, everything proceeded slowly, but finally it happened and the website went live. Because Andy understood search engine optimization, many hits were anticipated. The result was surprising indeed ...
"Hello, sit down and grab a coffee", said Claus. "Thanks for coming. The reason for this meeting is that Prayforriches.com is a sensational success. We are the number one topic on all news portals, and I have received several calls from talk shows. Jay Leno wants me on his show this week, and we will be famous!" Some hard copy versions of news websites were lying on the table. There was constant chattering and someone said "Unbelievable, but they take it serious. No one understands this is just a parody."
"And now it's getting better ... we already have 2,365, no 66 customers. And hundreds of people that want to be pray persons. I tell you what, this thing could really fly."
"Then let's start. We have to call a lawyer and start as a Delaware Corporation. We could do an IPO."
"That's a great idea. We'd all buy fancy cars, incredible clothing, and live in huge penthouses."
"But have you considered how much work this could be. What about our college studies?"
"That can wait. Such an occasion certainly justifies a small break, right?"
6 months later.
The projector in the conference room of the lottery department was slowly warming up and finally you could recognize the image of Internet Explorer. The trim manager in his gray suit started to talk with the other executives present. "Here we see the website of PrayForRiches.com To give you an idea of how this works, I have placed a bet and here is my pray person." He logged in and a window with the subtitle Pray Cam 23458 appeared. A young man in simple, but clean clothing appeared, kneeling in front of his praycam with his hands in a folded pray position. Behind him, written in chalk were the words "Wednesday Lottery, October 11th 2006, numbers 11, 23, 32, 35, 40, and 42". A large stopwatch was running and the time was at 3:10. The window that contained all of this information was named "Ezechiel 67". "This is the pray pseudonym of this person, as the true names are secret."
"Do you see this large plus symbol on the chalkboard? That is what they call 'The Booster.' If I win I will not only have to pay the normal 10% to PrayForRiches.com, I will have to give an extra 10% to charity, but PrayForRiches.com chooses who gets the extra 10%, however they will inform me and get me the tax write-off."
One of the other executives said "Are these fools really successful? How stupid do you have to be to do that?"
"They are indeed very successful. The whole world talks about PrayForRiches.com and they have even patented the business model. Do not underestimate the fervor of the religious and keep in mind that this only costs money if you win."
"But what I still don't understand is if this thing is good or bad for us."
"Well, in general PrayForRiches.com is positive for us. We have significantly increasing revenues, yet in the longer term, publicity problems are to be expected."
"OK, keep an eye on it. Next topic."
"No, that can't be right!" said the gray haired man as he put down the letter he just read and shifted the position of his thick glasses. "They want us to pray for money for lottery winnings! Doesn't it say in the Bible that it's harder for a rich man to go to Heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle?"
"Walter, don't be upset. These people brought us significant donations. These days every trend towards faithfulness has to be supported, and as you well know our church needs a new roof. We should really consider this offer", said the bony 40ish woman who stood next to the speaker. "These people are upright Christians. I can feel this."
The letter read:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today we would like to ask you to consider this very special proposal.
Our company has the goal to strengthen the importance of our Christian faith in the daily life of the citizens of our country. We want to give Christian Believers the possibility to embrace their faith in a very important part of their life, namely the lottery.
To achieve this goal, we would like to pray for every one of our customers. In this prayer we ask the Lord for his assistance in winning a lottery jackpot. In addition, we offer the option to add a donation to charity to the compensation we require.
Our services are in high demand, and we are always looking for faithful Christians who are willing to volunteer to pray for their desperate sisters and brothers. Of course, every one of our highly respected prayer persons will get financial compensation for their time and efforts.
Should you have faithful people in your community who are willing to join our sacred project we would love to hear from you. Our address and phone number are included in the flyer attached to this letter.
In Christ's Love,
"I will talk to the Bishop", said the pastor of the little church community in the suburbs. "I will have to ask his advice in this matter."
"Welcome to The Evening Show with John Smith. Our guests are Thomas Wagner of PrayForRiches.com and superintendent Joseph Richards from the protestant church of LA. Our topic today: Is it ethical to make money on a commercial service that prays for others to win the lottery? Let's first talk to Joseph Richards. What do you think about this?"
"John, thank you for having me on your show." The respectable man in his 60's changed his body position and became more serious. "Basically, any prayer, as a dedicated communication with our Creator is, of course, positive. But I think it is questionable to let someone else pray for another in order to make a profit. A prayer is something that should not be sold. We're talking about religion, which has nothing to do with a profit-oriented service. I just can't see anything positive here."
"Mr. Wagner, as the PR manager of PrayForRiches.com, what is your response?"
"John, we have a completely different point of view. The churches make sure they get paid as well. They have numerous models of how to squeeze income out of their followers. Without this income there would be no services and no full-time clerics. These people will no doubt pray for their sheep, but without monthly salaries these prayers would immediately cease. Let's be realistic. No one comes into the church today to pray for his luck, but we have created a real trend towards faith. In addition to that, 18% of our customers also donate money to charity. Just this first quarter, we have received over 47 million dollars in donations. Without us, this money simply would not have been given. It is time to wake up, Mr. Superintendent. Your idea of religion is desperately in need of an overhaul. While every week, fewer and fewer believers come into your churches, we have achieved over 14% growth rates in the last 10 months. You simply can not ignore that."
"But where are your donations? We have not received any funds to date."
"Well, we have our own requirements for projects we support. Your efficiency rating is miserable. Over 40% of your income goes toward your overhead."
PrayStats Copyright 2005, 2006 PrayForRiches.com
Evaluation of the test results
Analysis 21,498 2/1/2007
Result with prayer service
Result without prayer service (Control Group)
Rounded Results over all 21,498 tests
Result with prayer service
Result without prayer service (Control Group)
The young statistician in the employment of PrayForRiches.com was not absolutely certain. Errors in the equation had been eliminated. What looked like a random result in the beginning was now an obvious fact.
Of course, arranging a prayer at PrayForRiches.com was not a guarantee to win. But the chances to win the lottery were enhanced by .3%. Clearly a significant difference! Those who let others pray had a marked and replicable enhancement of their chances to win.
That was a tough blow for the young scientist, who considered himself to be agnostic. He sat down heavily on the new Aileron - the financial success of PrayForRiches.com was now affecting the employees as well. The young man grabbed the phone and called the CEO. "Yes, it is urgent ... I will wait."
"What do we do now? 3 independent studies have all come to the same result. 0.3%. I am considering going to church again", said Claus, now the CEO of PrayForRiches.com.
"I can still not believe that. Have we proven the existence of God?", said Robert, who had recently given up his university studies and was enjoying his new BMW M6.
"So far, the only thing we did prove is that there is a correlation between commercial prayers and lottery winnings. This can be the result of many different things: mass hypnosis, paranormal phenomenon, fraud. The only thing we can positively rule out is randomness. Our tests have been exhaustive and thorough", said Andy, the chief statistician.
"We should publish this information. That would be very positive for our revenues. PrayForRiches.com is no longer new and our growth rate is leveling out. If we publish the fact that this service works, I see the chance for the next jump in growth."
"Because of this 0.3% difference? I simply disagree. Who would give 10% for a mere 0.3% enhancement?"
"Then we have to optimize. Maybe we can increase the chances. Some pray people may have better results than others, and if so, why? Is their praying technique different, are they more faithful, is their body position a factor, does the time of day play a role? We can find this out."
Andy started thinking. "Well, I see possibilities. The thing with the pray people I can easily analyze. The pray position is also easy to follow-up on, as we have complete archives of the .avi files from the pray cams. Time of day, no problem. But the faith is more complicated to evaluate. I don't see how we can analyze that data without interviewing the pray people. I can imagine that they may guess our interest in interviewing them, as some of these pray people are really clever."
"I don't know ... to let others pray as long as it's a joke is OK in my book. But to experiment with faith, I have some qualms", said Megan, one of the newer shareholders. "I don't want to have anything to do with that."
"Come on, we have the chance to really move things, here and now. And you say you have reservations?", said Andy.
Claus replied "There's nothing against evaluating the existing data. We have to know what we are talking about. After we have that info, we can still decide how to proceed."
That was convincing. The staff departed the meeting.
Today, 90 years later, the order of PrayForRiches is the most powerful independent organization in the world. The experiments with prayers as a tool to influence was sensationally successful. All speculations over the influence over the pray position and the faithfulness of the pray person turned out to be irrelevant. All tests confirmed that the only thing that counts is the intelligence of the prayer and the intensity of the mental focus on a goal. The breakthrough came with the discovery that the chances would increase significantly if several capable pray people would focus on the same goal. The more prayer people, the better the result. But precise synchronization was critical.
One thing led to the next. Today, the conversion of the PrayForRiches.com corporation into a religious order is regarded as the return of the Knights Templar. The structures are indeed very similar. Total secrecy of the brothers and sisters, lifelong membership, high entrance requirements.
In the past only nobles have been admitted, and today you must have the right genes. In the past there was a Knights Templar Quarter in every major city, today the apartments of the members are also concentrated in certain parts of the towns. Oath, penalties for not following the statutes, everything was just like In medieval times. But the modern PrayForRiches did not have to relinquish wealth…
The Grand Master of the order is the most influential politician In the world who doesn't rule his own country. Everything is possible for those who enjoy the support of the Order. If something is not achievable by the synchronous prayers of the pray people, then the Order simply pays in cash. The wealth of the organization is legendary.
Of course, the members are networked. Only the internet allowed the perfect synchronization of the pray people. Although the random factor can not be completely eliminated even with the largest imaginable group of prayer people, a much higher likelihood (as high as 15%) is achievable and can bring unbelievable results.
The management board is now preparing for the next large step. They want to call in the Great Ring of pray people which consists of the top 80% of the fully licensed members. The Ring will pray in 3 shifts for the birth of a new Messiah. The world expects his appearance within the next 35 years - statistics are positive on this.