[Editor’s Note: This essay resides within Anderson Blanton’s “The Materiality of Prayer,” a portal into Reverberations’ unfolding compendium of resources related to the study of prayer.]
Global televangelists, with their empires of technologically progressive media, are on the forefront of changes to evangelical prayer techniques and their implementations. People often seek out healing from big names in the international revivalist circuit, healers whom they believe they have witnessed (likely from television) serving as efficacious conduits of the Holy Spirit. Itinerant healer Benedictus Toufik Hinn—known around the globe as Pastor Benny Hinn—is a vanguard figure within these developments.
Hinn’s website serves as a hub of online prayer resources and simultaneously constitutes a new form of social prayer. “Amazing things happen when people come into agreement,” Hinn makes clear on the website. While cultural commentators make much about the fragmenting effects of social technologies on modern persons, Hinn underscores the unifying nature of the medium: “Benny Hinn Ministries is dedicated to praying in unity with people, just like you, who desire to see the Holy Spirit’s miracle-working power unleashed.” Prayer, extrapolating from Hinn’s description, is a coming into agreement with others, a facilitation of unity, and a focusing of concerted mental effort onto some entity, need, problem, or situation in need of address. Internet prayer centers such as Hinn’s supplement existing evangelical prayer rituals by bringing together physically distant, individual penitents. These new techniques do not intend to replace traditional practices—such as index-card sized prayer request forms, turned in physically at church services or revival events—but rather to add to an existing repertoire of methods.