It appears that in some parts of the world, prayers have legit market value. For example, a church in Russia is getting away with a $11,500 debt by promising to pray for the good health of the creditors instead.
The Nizhny Novgorod diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church owed 916,000 roubles to construction company Era for designing a heating system for one of their buildings. The church was only able to settle half the amount, and the company decided on taking legal action. But the owners of the company happen to be religious people, so the church was able to convince them to agree to a pre-trial settlement in which the loan would be written off and the church would pray for them in exchange.
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Although it is common to make financial donations to Russian churches in exchange for a prayer, this is perhaps the first time such a legal agreement has been reached. In fact, the diocese’s legal department was rather taken aback when the company readily accepted the offer. “We had an agreement on the design of the heating in a building that belongs to the diocese, and which houses the pilgrim center,” a church representative said. “It turned out that there were financial difficulties. But we ourselves were surprised when the plaintiffs before the court suggested to make a settlement agreement in place of prayers. They even constituted the wording themselves.”
It seems that the company was more than willing to withdraw charges when they realized that the goodwill of the church was at stake. It obviously was a great deal for them – perhaps they thought that the church’s prayers might bring them far more benefit than the amount in question.
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Since the company had no objection to the settlement the court ruled that it does not violate the law, asking the church to repay the remaining 258,000 rubles ($3,244) for the heating system, and 65,000 rubles ($817) towards fines and legal fees, in the form of prayers. “The defendant promises to offer prayers for the health of God’s servant Ivan Arsenyev and God’s servant Sergei Lepustin,” the decision signed by the judge read. It also added that the prayers would go out to “their families, and for their well-being in all their good works and deeds.”
But the company doesn’t plan to check if the church is actually holding up the prayer agreement or not. “We respect the diocese and we are all Orthodox believers,” said Era sales manager Andrei Lepustin. “It’ll be on their conscience if they don’t, but we trust them and have already felt the fruits of their prayers, as prosperity indicators for both the company and its employees are growing.”
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Legal experts in Russia are calling the settlement a “historic first” for the nation. “For the first time in the modern history of Russian law, in the international agreement concluded within the framework of the arbitration process, it included a condition of offering prayers for the health of your opponent,” the St.Petersburg Legal Portal wrote on their website.