This involves two player characters: A wealthy cleric and a sorcerer with detect thoughts. They are cooperating whereby the cleric is giving gold to NPCs for free, simply asking them to pray to a god at a certain time of day once a week. The sorcerer is using detect thoughts on the NPCs to make sure he/she is living up to the bargain.
This appears in no way related to anything else that's going on in the campaign. To emphasize, these are random NPCs sought out in a crowd, not even regularly-occuring NPCs. As the DM, I'm humoring them, even keeping things fairly sophisticated in terms of mechanics: I've assigned simple character sheets for these NPCs and have been rolling a D20 + the NPCs religion modifier to see if they do it against a low DC. Most of the time, the result is: "Yea, they are praying to the god."
After which, I just move on, as it's not really advancing the plot. Of course there are ways that I could weave this into the player arcs: that kind of behavior is a bit manipulative or even vindictive, and could make for a character versus self plot device.
However, I think we're all kind of amused as it just being a comical silo theme that comes up every now and then. Of course it's impossible to read their minds and predict exactly what they are planning, if anything. It's also part of the fun to wonder what might be going on. Still, I want to map out as best I can what avenues this could open up down the road, just in the event I'm missing something obvious that might break the game. I would still reward their effort, if anything I'd just increase the difficulty slightly so that the main story arc doesn't become too easy for them if their buying of prayers actually skews the power dynamics in some way down the road.
Is there any spell/cantrip or anything in the known 5e framework that scales really well with people praying at a certain time of day?