By Mark Matthews, Salt + Light Radio’s Hollywood Undercover Missionary
I’m a nuts and bolts kind of guy – a very hands on artist who appreciates the tangible, visual nature of our world. Because of this I have a tough time understanding how prayer “works”. What is the cause and effect? I can’t see anything happening. Luckily, a recent Sunday Gospel put prayer into terms I could understand: NAGGING!! The parable of the unjust judge shows how we will do almost anything to get rid of nagging, even if it means bending the rules a bit:
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her.
How then more so with our Heavenly father, eh?
I’ve personally seen the power of prayer in Hollywood many times over. I once tried to start a men’s group, “Prayer and Poker”. It didn’t take and within a few meetings had dwindled down to an empty room. I tried again a year later, but this time enlisting the help of some spiritual friends. I asked them to pray every time we met. “Bibles-N-Brew” was born and has flourished for the past 5 years. I credit it all to the power of my praying friends!
So when was the last time you prayed for Hollywood? We all know the incredible cultural power of film and TV, but why don’t we feel more compelled to pray for it? I believe we often excuse it with reasons like “Celebrities, come on, they’re not even real people!”, or “Hollywood is hopeless”. We’re essentially saying Hollywood is Sodom and Gomorrah. But it’s not, it’s Nineveh! Recall that when Jonah preached repentance to the Ninevites, they repented! My experience of Hollywood has shown that the majority of people here is simply lost, and have never heard the truth of Christ proclaimed clearly.
I challenge you to think differently about Hollywood and start PRAYING for it. 99.9% of the people here are not crazy celebrities, but just a regular people with families and real problems that need your prayers. JP II acknowledged that artists often have a special burden and for that reason, producers, writers, directors and actors especially need our prayers.
How can you pray for Hollywood? It can be as simple as saying a prayer during commercials. Take on the discipline of muting the audio, bowing your head, and saying a few words to God. Ask him to bless the writers, actors and creators of whatever you are watching.
Consider writing a letter too. But please, not an ANGRY letter. There’s an unfortunate perception out here sometimes that “Christians are the crazy weirdos who write me hate letters”. Anger will go in the trash, but praise will go on the wall. If you see a particularly uplifting episode, TV show or movie, find the address for the production company and write the writer, producer or director a handwritten letter telling them what you loved. You probably won’t get a reply, but there’s a very good chance that they will read it.
Finally, there’s a fantastic ministry out here called the Hollywood Prayer Network. It is an ecumenical prayer ministry started over 20 years ago by Karen Covell and her husband Jim. I had the blessing of meeting Karen a couple months ago and I now credit her almost single handedly for all the good things that have since happened in Hollywood. When she arrived here there was very little going on for Christians. So she and her husband simply started praying.
They have since grown into a large ministry that publishes weekly and monthly prayer reminder letters, giving very specific intentions to pray for, and sharing glory stories of good things that have happened. They prayer walks on studio lots and also have what they call an “Industry to Intercessor” prayer ministry, where you can sign up to pray for one specific industry insider (maybe someone like me). I love it because it’s personal and that’s where God can really work some magic.
So, I’ve given you all a couple very concrete ways that you can now NAG GOD for good things to happen here in Hollywood. I’m now expecting nothing less than miracles!!
Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood. Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on the SLHour.