This clip is from Talladega Nights. I didn’t see the movie though I’ve seen the “unedited” portion of the same clip. This is the “clean” version and appropriate for the blog. Watch it closely. There’s more truth in this three minute clip than we’re probably willing to admit. Here’s what I walk away with. See if I’m not right here.
An individual’s prayer life is related to how they see or view God. There is a correlation between one’s view (perception) of God and one’s practice of prayer. How do you view God? What is your doctrine of God? Do you see him as an infant, carpenter, dying on a cross, resurrected, or ascended? A recent example of a discussion referencing one’s view of God has been in the press lately. John Killinger made some rather heretical statements regarding his views of God which were commented on by James Smith which in turn was responded to by Daniel Vestal all stemming from a recent CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) workshop. How you view God will determine how you pray. Do you see him a sovereign? Do you view him as omnipotent? How does Will Ferrell’s character view God? He’s seen as an infant; it is how this character chooses to view God. He likes this picture best. I think there are people who miss out on the real benefits of prayer because of an unhealthy view or doctrine of God. A distorted view will lead to a distorted practice. Rather than building a doctrine of God based upon popular expression, return to Scripture to build a more accurate and complete understanding or doctrine of God.
Did you hear Ferrell’s wife in the clip? “I want you to do this grace good so God will let us win tomorrow.” Here’s another misconception about prayer. There are those who think that if you just do the prayer right (or good in this case), God will have to say yes to the request. It’s like prayer gets treated as some personal want list that we believe God is obligated in to fulfill as long as we ask in a certain way or specific style. It is as if they are saying, “If you just pray this way or say these ‘magical’ words then God will answer your prayer.” God doesn’t answer prayer based on some magically formula. He’s more interested in the sincerity of the heart rather than the posturing of our many words. He’s more interested in our good than the eloquence of the request. I’m glad God hasn’t given me a lot of stuff I’ve asked for over the years. He knows what’s best for me regardless of the request.
As you observe the prayer coming to a conclusion, it becomes apparent that the “stuff” is more important than the provider. Ferrell’s character goes as far as to thank God for the winnings, but then includes his “endorsement” speech for the sports drink in the blessing. The money, the lifestyle, and things are viewed as more significant than the provider. It’s the only time you really see everyone get excited at the table. They cheer for the winnings. There is so much more to a relationship with God than to just receive “stuff” from Him. God wants to be our life and not for us to just add God to life when it’s convenient. God doesn’t give us “stuff” in turn to run off and exploit this “stuff” on ourselves and live a life however we choose. There comes a responsibility with all this “stuff.” We are stewards of what God places in our life.
Could it be that too many people see Jesus as this small infant – cute, cuddly, and vulnerable? Maybe too few view Him as coming again in a grand entrance as the sky is parted and the trumpet is blown. God is not to be manipulated. He’s not one to coerced or maneuvered. God can’t be fooled; He knows our hearts. If there’s ever a popular film that demands a spiritual exercise from its viewers, it is Talladega Nights. Take notice of the popular theology and contrast it with a biblical theology. Be in church on Sunday. Get involved in a small group like Sunday School of a Life Group. Study, learn, grow and become all that God has called you to be in Him. Release yourself from pop theology and thrive in truth. It’s a better place to live.