As a praying man, I like to see the Almighty addressed reverently in films. But I also have a sense of humor, and so I don’t mind poking fun a little when it comes to conversing with God. With this in mind, I’d like to present nine types of prayer used in films, some of which are serious and some of which are humorous. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples and types I didn’t include, but let’s not get bogged down in the minutia or we won’t have a prayer of making it through.
1. The Lord’s Prayer – Woodlawn
Let’s start with something nice and simple. The Lord’s Prayer is the classic prayer that literally quotes Jesus word for word as He directed His disciples to pray. You can’t go wrong with that.
2. Help Me – Patton
Most prayers include a request for God’s help. General George S. Patton may have had some rather unorthodox beliefs, but there’s no doubt he respected his Maker’s power. If you need evidence of that, just watch this exchange between him and an army chaplain. He demands the chaplain come up with a prayer to tame the weather, and the Lord responds. The results speak for themselves.
3. What Do You Want? – The Ten Commandments (1956)
When Moses prays to God on Mount Sinai, he’s literally face to face with Him. He’s done everything God asked him to do and successfully delivered the House of Israel from bondage in Egypt. But now he’s at a loss for what comes next. So he asks for direction, and God kindly points the way in the most famous answer to prayer of all time.
4. Thank You – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
There are many ways to express gratitude when God blesses us. Our reactions can vary, depending on how much we wanted what He gave us. For instance, Robin of Locksley never thought he would see his beloved country again after facing death and imprisonment during the Third Crusade, so when he arrives in England he clutches the mud and sincerely thanks God for making this moment possible.
5. Sneaky Sermon – The Other Side of Heaven
Praying before meals is a common practice. Sometimes it can even be an effective way to sneakily offer a sermon to an unfriendly audience. That’s what this missionary decided to do when he was forbidden from preaching to a family. I especially like his smile halfway through the prayer when the thought suddenly occurs to him.
6. Dinner Prayer – The Iron Giant
Oh we’re not done with dinner prayers. Not by a long shot. I’ve got to hand it to The Iron Giant, I’ve never seen a prayer scene quite like this one.
7. Complaining to God – Fiddler on the Roof
Prayers don’t always have to be formal. Some of the most heartfelt ones play out as conversations with a friend rather than pleas to a far-off authority figure. Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof spends most of the film talking to God and sharing his everyday problems and challenges with Him. He has a healthy sense of humor about his lot in life, but he’s not above complaining, even if he says that’s not what he’s doing.
8. If You Don’t Listen – Conan the Barbarian (1982)
You could argue that this is a lot like General Patton’s prayer for help from God. But in this case, Conan the Barbarian is a bit more cynical and he adds a caveat that basically negates the entire prayer. It changes from super-serious to comedic genius on a dime without actually descending into camp. I guess that’s this whole film in a nutshell, now that I think about it.
9. The Pledge – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
I told you we weren’t done with dinner prayers. This moment in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation will probably go down as one of the most hilarious prayers ever given in a film.
Like I said, this list is by no means exhaustive. If you can think of any other types of prayer you’ve seen in films, pray tell.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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