It’s A Wonderful Life: Prayer
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.”
Psalm 34:17 (NIV UK)
Chances are, you’ve seen It’s a wonderful Life. Since its premiere in 1946, This uplifting Christmas tale celebrates the simple blessings that we might often overlook. As I settled in with my wife to watch it this year, I enjoyed discovering a handful of wonderful Christian themes woven into the story—such as the reality of prayer, the significance of an individual life, and the benefits of living life connected with a community which knows you well. Over the next few weeks I’d like to examine these themes and unpack how we can apply them to daily life.
From the start we’re acutely aware of the reality of prayer. After the opening credits, the camera hovers over the little town of Bedford Falls and the soundtrack fills with the voices of people praying for one man in particular, George Bailey. And while it takes the entire film to learn about George and his troubles, from the very beginning we overhear a pair of angels already trying to figure out how to help our hero. Later on, after we’ve spent some time getting to know George and his joys and struggles, we hear him joining the chorus of prayers, confessing that he’s “at the end of his rope” asking God to show him the way.
In the next scene, George Bailey’s prayers are answered in the form of the funny angel named Clarence Oddbody. And while this vision of how prayer works and is answered might not be ‘biblically accurate’, we can appreciate that it does shine a light on something which we know is Biblically true: God does hear our prayers the second we offer them.. Even before we speak he knows what we need, and he’s working behind the scenes to perfect us according to his image.
Remember what the angel Michael said to Daniel: “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them” (Daniel 10:12). Our heavenly Father has promised to hear our cry and is faithful to respond to our needs. He has given us so many great gifts, the greatest of all being his son, who took on our humanity to bring us back into right relationship with him through the power of the Holy Spirit. And even now, we are told he lives to make intercessions on our behalf. I hope and pray that you will hold on to this simple truth—that our God hears our prayers. He knows what we and those around us need before we even ask.
Let us take this spiritual truth as seriously as does our Father. And pray without ceasing that Christ, our Triune God, will bring many sons and daughters to glory through us, his humble servants.
Merciful Father, so often we think we are on our own, carrying all the weight of life, whereas the reality is that, as Christians, you go with us and take all that yoke upon yourself. That frees us to live for others as you would have us live. Thank you. And we pray in Jesus’ name.
Study by Joseph Tkach
About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA. You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.