You've heard of Dial-a-steamy-message. But how about trying a more saintly twist on the recorded phone conversation?
For the price of a regular local phone call, you can listen to the soothing tones of the Rev. Samuel Callahan, pastor of Christ is the Answer Deliverance Center of Annapolis.
Don't expect a prayer hotline with entreaties tailored to your special wants. Dial-A-Prayer is more one-size-fits-all, a generic approach that will suit varied callers.
But the words seek to offer comfort, and that's what those dialing tend to need, Callahan says.
"Our God . . . we thank you that you are always available to help. We seek your assistance and help in this situation with this individual. Let the Holy Spirit comfortthem," prays the 67-year-old on the recording.
"We believe the church should encourage people," says Callahan. "But many people call and ask for the minister to pray with them, and I'm not always available."
So 10 years ago, after Callahan heard of the idea at a religious convention, the non-denominational church started a phone line just for prayer.
"A few men call, people feeling down and out. But usually it's women who call, women who have children who are feeling deserted or misused," says Callahan, who often receives personal callsfrom those who used the service.
Often the callers are living in county shelters for the homeless, or are suicidal or depressed, Callahan says.
"I'm counseling weekly now with a lady who had planned to kill herself, but first she called (the prayer line)," Callahan says.
He believes the phone line's appeal is anonymity.
"Sometimeswhen I'm there, I'll pick up the telephone and the person hangs up when they hear me," he says.
"People like getting a need met without having to talk to somebody who might recognize their voice or inquire deeper about their trouble."
The Deliverance Center, about 150 members who meet at 445 Fourth St., try to carry the comfort of God into the community in other ways, the minister says.
Every Monday night, church members with a van round up young people from areas of Annapolis that are "kind of neglected" and drive them to church for a fun night of lessons and games, Callahan says. The youngsters range in age from 7 to about 17.
The pastor and members of his church also visit the Anne Arundel County Detention Center every week to talk to prisoners.
And once a month, the church takes flowers to the Knollwood Manor Nursing Home in Millersville.