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Chances are, you’ve seen IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Since it’s premiere in 1946, the film has slowly but surely earned a top spot in the hearts of holiday movie fans all around the world (and rightfully so)! 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. Themes like the reality of prayer, the significance of an individual life, and the benefits of living life connected to a community who knows you well.
Over the next few episodes of Speaking of LIFE, I’ll be examining these themes and unpacking how we can apply them to daily life. If you haven’t seen the movie in a few years, I’d encourage check it out and be open to what the Holy Spirit might be teaching us this holiday season.
From the very start of the movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 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 movie to learn about George and his troubles, from the very beginning we overhear a pair of angels already trying to figure out how they can 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 that we know is Biblically true: God does hear our prayers the second we offer them up. 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 when he arrived in Babylon:
“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 onto this simple truth; that our God hears our prayers. He knows what we and those around us need before we even ask.
This Christmas season, let us take this spiritual truth as seriously as our Father does. And, pray without ceasing that Christ, our Triune God, will bring many sons and daughters to glory through us, his humble servants.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of a Wonderful LIFE.