The holidays usher in a wonderful time of celebration and togetherness. They also bring extra work, worry and strong emotions. We need ways to stay focused on what’s right and keep inner peace.
It can help to take in simple pleasures. One simple pleasure my husband Charlie and I enjoy is stealing Friday nights when we can to watch a 5-star classic film saved on our DVR. Charlie likes comedies. I go for psychological dramas.
To prepare for these evenings, we slide our recliners across our hardwood floor until they touch. Charlie makes popcorn and I typically grab a warm throw. Then we settle in to enjoy an evening’s entertainment far from the maddening world.
Last Friday we watched the 1938 comedy You Can’t Take it With You starring Lionel Barrymore and Jimmy Stewart. Notations identified the film as a comedy so it came as no surprise when we laughed.
The surprise came for me when I felt personally challenged by the amazingly simple prayer offered by Barrymore’s character, “Grandpa.” Barrymore played a calm, patriarchal grandfather living in a somewhat chaotic household inhabited by a large, high-energy family.
The chaos quieted twice in the film as the family gathered at the long family dinner table. All sat silently as “Grandpa” stood at table’s end offering a mealtime prayer of thanksgiving.
“Grandpa” opened his prayers with, “Well sir.” He referenced the family’s current situation in a matter-of-fact way, made a simple request and closed with the statement:
“we’ve all got our health, and as far as anything else is concerned, we leave that up to you.”
I love “Grandpa’s” prayer. It reflects peace and gratitude. I’d like to pray like that. Would you? Here’s how I think he did it.
“Grandpa’s” Simple Prayer Formula:
1. Pay Tribute
“Grandpa” gave tribute to God. Despite his business, community and family success, “Grandpa” did not see himself as “top dog.” When he talked to God, he said “Sir.”
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in holy array. (Ps 29:2)
2. Tell God
In the movie, a formidable foe threatened the family’s welfare. “Grandpa’s” prayer acknowledged the current situation and made a request. “Grandpa” spoke succinctly revealing his belief that God paid attention and knew the details.
…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
3. Thank God
Mr. Barrymore’s character gave thanks for the day’s blessings. He thanked God for the family’s health.
Even If you can’t thank God for good health right now you likely can thank Him for other kinds of provision. Do you have family? Friends? Employment? Good health care? The opportunity to help someone worse off? Hope for the future? Even when life brings trouble, It helps to notice your blessings.
… by prayer …with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phil 4:6)
4. Trust God
“Grandpa’s” amazing prayer left everything but immediate needs up to God. Can you ask for what you need right now and trust God to handle the future? That seems like a ticket to peace!
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. (Matthew 6:34)
“Grandpa’s” trust in God came from experience. Viewers hear trust in the words of “Grandpa’s” prayer offered near the end of the movie:
“and things have turned out all right as they usually do….”
Experience with God proves His faithfulness.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
To remember “Grandpa’s” simple and powerful prayer formula, memorize four simple “T” words:
Tribute (to remember God’s power)
Tell (to remember God’s care)
Thank (to stay grateful)
Trust (to gain peace)
I didn’t expect to learn something about prayer from watching a movie but I did. I think I’ll try praying like “Grandpa.” I want to have his peaceful outlook and thankful heart.
Could his prayer formula work for you? Let me know what you think.