Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Lesson from Hollywood

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

-- Ephesians 6:18

The entertainment industry is one of the last places that anyone—especially Christ-followers—should seek guidance about godly behavior. After all, Hollywood is well known for its moral relativism and feels-good-do-it lifestyle. Celebrity relationships and marriages are often short-lived, and what constitutes a family is redefined by political correctness. On the other hand, Believers are often mocked as being intellectually inferior and bigoted.

In Tinseltown, there’s not much room in the inn for God and His people.

But maybe Hollywood can teach us something after all. If you’ve ever watched any of its award shows like the Academy Awards or the Grammys, the winning actors and musicians often go to great lengths in their acceptance speeches to recognize others for their success. They’ll often cite their producers, agents, writers—even their family members—as helping to make it all possible. Rarely if ever does an entertainer take all the credit.

This is not to suggest that most Christ-followers hog the acclaim for their own blessings and achievements. But what is true is that even faithful, long-time Christians can fall into the trap of selfishness when it comes to prayer. Without thinking, prayer—what should be an intimate conversation with God—becomes a laundry list of personal wants and must-haves. The Father becomes little more than a cosmic genie. And we think our wishes should be His command. It’s all about I, me and mine.

Make no mistake: God does indeed want us to tell Him about our legitimate needs and wants. We read in Luke’s Gospel that the disciples once asked Jesus to teach them to pray, just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. Christ responded through what we call the Lord’s Prayer that we should always ask God to provide us with our daily sustenance and protect us from temptation and the Evil One (the devil).

But God’s Word through the Bible also teaches us to pray for others. And not just for our friends and family, but those who we may never meet (or even want to meet!).

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven,” Jesus says. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”  

With our nation—and the entire world—besieged these days by economic crises and social unrest, now’s the time to pray specifically for our local and national leaders, that God opens their hearts, eyes and minds to His ways…and that they respond by doing His will.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” we read in the Book of James. So what could happen if millions of Christ-followers began praying as one for healing and spiritual revival to spread across our land? Let’s take hope from God’s response to the Israelites, who centuries ago faced immense challenges that they could never surmount on their own:  

“This is what the LORD says: I will answer your prayers because I have set a time when I will help by coming to save you. I have chosen you to take my promise of hope to other nations. You will rebuild the country from its ruins, then people will come and settle there.”

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