VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A noted local author and professor at Virginia Wesleyan University has now produced a movie “Hollywood, Teach Us to Pray.” 

It takes a look at how Hollywood movies of the last 100 years shape the ways people pray. 

Terry Lindvall, the chairman of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan University, began the process of making this movie which you can see Feb. 5 at the Naro Cinema on Granby Street while teaching film theology at Duke and The College of William and Mary. 

Many years later that early work led to this movie on how Hollywood movies of the last 100 years shape the way people pray. 

One of the movies mentioned is the black and white film “Little Miss Marker.” Shirley Temple taught to pray.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.” 

Other movies include the same prayer.

“I pray the Lord, my Soul to keep.” 

Another movie.

“If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my Soul to take.” 

“‘Easy A’ with Emma Stone, she goes to confession and says I don’t know how to pray,” Lindvall said. “I’m going off what I have seen in the movies … people come and say, ‘How do I pray?’ In the movies they are watching, and the movies teach them how to pray.”

Lindvall has analyzed prayer in Hollywood movies over the last 100 years.   

Movies like “Talladega Nights.”

From actor Will Ferrell:

“Dear 8-pound 6-ounce infant Jesus don’t know a word yet, I thank you for all the races I’ve won.” 

Part of the analysis showed we often pray in self-serving ways.  

In “Dead Man Walking,” actor Sean Penn is the killer of a teenage couple and tries to find redemption.

“No one ever called me a son of God before,” Penn’s character said. “They call me a son of you know what, you know, but never a son of God.”

Said Lindvall: “The nun (played by actress Susan Sarandon) says you are a son of God, and she begins to minister to him, and then he begins to experience that love. You have a murderer and thief who repents, and God accepts him.”

Then there’s “Hacksaw Ridge.”

“I pray to God, and I like to think he hears me,” said actor Andrew Garfield, who played Desmond Doss. 

It is the true story of the World War II medic who saved 75 souls during the bloody battle. 

“I am sorry I will not bear arms,” he says to his superior. 

Doss was a conscientious objector who refused to kill people. 

His superior asked, “Was it God who told you do not pick up a rifle?”

Doss answered, “God says not to kill.”

He would become the first man  to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.  

“He talks to God as someone else who struggles with what God is doing,” Lindvall said, “and I think most say to God, ‘What are you doing? Where are you? Are you there?” 

Lindvall also thinks, 

“This model we see in Hollywood is not only a window, but a mirror because we can see how our own prayer lives worked out   

Want to go?

Terry Lindvall’s movie, “Hollywood, Teach Us to Pray” is at the Naro Cinema at 1507 Colley Ave. in Norfolk. It will be showing at 7 p.m., Feb. 5. You can get tickets to see the movie here.