I chanced upon a scary piece of software while doing a Google search this morning. Simply type in your prayer and the program will repeat it for you a pre-set number of times. So you can get on with your life while your computer ‘prays’ on your behalf! This is scary because although the website claims to be Christian (indeed, the statement of faith on the site seems to identify it as conservative evangelical) it is promoting a profoundly un-Christian view of prayer.
Whatever else it is, Christian prayer in all its manifestations is first and foremost an expression of the loving personal relationship between the believer and God. I fail to see how a computer repeating a set of words time after time in an empty room is expressive of anything personal. Imagine how you would feel if, rather than spending time with you, your significant other programmed their computer to email a message to you repeatedly.
Granted the website in question warns that the program is not ‘a substitute for your personal rapport with God. But rather, it is to be used as an additional mode of reinforcement for your Prayers, thanksgiving and dialogue with God.’ But, in what sense is a computer that repeats a prayer for you reinforcing your prayers? As far as I can see, this only makes sense if it is the prayer itself that is important rather than the relationship. It seems to reduce the prayer to a magical formula: repeat this so many times and you will manipulate God into giving you what you want.