A spiritual Internet connection

Reverend Fred Stephens sits in front of his computer to pray with people.
A St. Petersburg-based ministry is reaching millions of people worldwide one computer screen at a time.

Bill Keller said since his Internet-based ministry started six years ago he and his team of retired pastors have responded to about 60 million prayer requests with no slowdown in sight.

"Our ministry is really geared towards people outside the four walls of the church," Keller said.

Reverend Fred Stephens donates his time sitting in front of a live web cam praying. The ministry is online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"People that have immediate needs often will log on," Stephens said. "A live prayer partner is there to read their e-mail and literally pray for them right there over the air."

Keller said they respond to a couple hundred prayer requests a day from around the globe.

"Whether it be financial issues, health issues, relationship problems, an employment problem or your dog ran away," Keller said.

Keller said no request is too big or too small and no one is turned away. He said it's one of the only live, interactive video feeds of this type in the country.

"What we've been doing for the last six and a half is something nobody other than pornography people are doing," Keller said.

He also responds to thousands of daily prayer requests via e-mail. He said the ministry is classified as a non-profit organization, meaning it's funded through donations and anonymous backers. He said he will not plead with his flock for money. His web site only includes a small link for donations.

Some Christian media experts are calling liveprayer.com the next big thing in faith-based outreach, but Keller said his mission is simpler than that.

"The whole purpose of live prayer is to be that oasis of hope.

In addition to the Internet ministry, Keller is publishing a book of daily devotionals he plans to hand out free at several bookstores. He also hosts a late-night television prayer show that's slated to go national in July.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006