One (fictional) view of prayer

(First published April 3, 2011. And it’s more than 300 words.)

“A prayer”

HOST: Good evening. I’m Noah Weigh. Welcome to this episode of ‘Behind the Scenes,’ the show where we take you … behind the scenes. Tonight, a very rare opportunity. We get to see what happens to a prayer.

[VO} [little boy on knees next to a bed.] Little Jonny here is praying for a pony. A simple prayer, one that he developed just for this program. As you can see, he looks really earnest. And cute. Who could resist those freckles?

We’ll be back to see what happens to this prayer in just a moment, after these messages.


HOST: Welcome back to ‘Behind the Scenes.” We’re looking at what happens to a prayer. Little Jonny just asked for a pony. Look closely at the ceiling and… Oh no. The prayer just bounced right off. Sorry Jonny. No pony.

[Host closes the bedroom door and moves down the hall.]

Let’s go to his little sister Susie. With those adorable pigtails, she should get right through that ceiling. Listen closely.

SUSIE: Dear God, can you give my brother Jonny a pony? Please?

HOST: Perfect. Selfless and cute. Let’s watch.

[camera moves up past a cutaway ceiling into a clean white room that looks like a lab.]

And we’re through. Surprised? We were. I mean who knew that prayers go to a room just like a Good Housekeeping testing lab? But we should have expected this.

Let me walk you around.

Prayers move from the floor by conveyer first to this scale. It’s incredibly sensitive. [points to label: Sincerity.] If there is any whiff of insincerity, they float. And are blown by that fan out that window.

EXPERT: Trial balloon prayers never get answered. All full of hot air. And some professions … well, you know [winks].

HOST: Sincere prayers are carried by that angel to the next station. It’s checked against your current spiritual condition. If it’s red, out the window. Yellow, it moves to those drawers

[closeup on one marked “susie” It’s empty. Next to it is one marked “Jonny”. It’s slightly ajar, overflowing.]

to wait for another test tomorrow. Prayers are checked daily at one hour past the bedtime of the pray-er.

EXPERT: That’s why insomniacs and worriers never think their prayers for peace are answered. They never are asleep long enough for the test.

HOST: Over against that wall, the people with the bright red pens? Those are the proofreaders. They are checking prayers for any grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, accuracy.

Right next to them, with the perfect posture, that’s the politeness checker.


POLITE CHECKER: tsk tsk tsk. We mustn’t talk like that to God.

{POLITE daintily reaches up and pushes a bright red button.]


HOST: [to EXPERT] What the … What was that?

EXPERT: I believe that was the legendary lightening bolt button. We’ve believed that it had to exist. But finally, we’ve seen it.

HOST: I hope it sounds worse than it feels.

Let’s move on.

I know. It looks like a taffy-pulling machine. But actually, those are prayers. They are being stretched to see how long they can be pulled before faith breaks.


EXPERT: Sometimes they snap. Just not enough faith, from what we can tell. The pieces are swept up and recycled into a bitterness tonic.


HOST: Oh, this room is amazing. Looks just like American Idol, doesn’t it? We’ve heard that the judges watch Simon Cowell, just to figure out how NOT to be.


VOICE: “I really would like a parking place close to the door. The sale starts in five minutes and I really really want those shoes.”

HOST: Every prayer goes before this panel to find out if it is spiritual enough.


I’m guessing someone’s not getting a new pair of shoes right..


EXPERT: Let me explain that one for our viewers at home. The shoe prayer wasn’t spiritual enough. However, that same person had prayed yesterday for more patience. That prayer was just answered with a very long walk from the outer parking lot.

HOST: Ah, so the panel has to sort out competing prayers for the same person. That’s gotta be tricky.

EXPERT: It’s really confusing, especially when people just keep throwing stuff into the hopper.

HOST: Okay, looks like we’re at the last station in the lab, right next to a door. I’m guessing from the bright white glow that’s gotta be, well, you know.
It looks like all the prayers are lined up in some kind of numerical order. I’m  guessing that it’s in order of importance somehow?

EXPERT: That’s right. They are assigned a score from all the testing and then we add in votes from everyone who calls in for that prayer.

HOST: You mean like the emails that say, “Forward to everyone to pray for this” or Facebook, “Let’s get a million people to ask God to give Jonny a pony because Susie said so?”

EXPERT: Exactly. The top prayers go through that door into God’s presence. The rest wait here.

HOST: Whoa. Well, we’d love to be able to go through that door, but ‘behind the scenes’ can’t get everywhere.

We hope you’ve enjoy this amazing glimpse into prayer. We’d like to thank our expert, Jonny and Susie, everyone in the lab. We’d especially like to thank all the people who have worked for years to create all of the false notions of prayer that we’ve been able to illustrate tonight.

For everyone at ‘behind the scenes,’ this is Noah Weigh. Good night.


SFX: horse whinny.

SUSIE: A pony! Yay!

JONNY: What? She got a pony? I wanted a pony.


3 thoughts on “One (fictional) view of prayer

  1. Rich Dixon

    So let me be sure I get the point. My prayers will never be answered because I don’t have a cute sister names Susie?

    I hope God appreciates sarcasm…we’ll see if the “lighning bolt” guy is listening.


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