What is prayer? The kids in Odyssey are trying to figure out exactly that. Of course, in any drama our characters have to get it wrong in the beginning. But what’s interesting to note is that they don’t get prayer totally wrong. Take Jimmy Barclay for example. He has been exposed to the Bible and he can reference it, even if most of these references are misquotes. Still, he does better than Robyn Jacobs, who in the last episode didn’t refer to the Bible at all in her conversations. Jimmy at least is trying. And he does seem to have some measure of faith that God will hear his prayers and act on them.
On the other hand, he does treat God a bit like Santa Claus and is very strategic in finding ways to attempt to boost the power of his prayers. Even though his actions are so obviously distorted from the fullness of what prayer should be, it’s easy to see where Jimmy got his ideas from. His conclusions are understandable. I can imagine lots of kids making the same mistakes he makes. He is very enthusiastic about prayer but he still has plenty to learn. Jimmy’s experience is probably very relevant for listeners who are new to the concept of prayer.
In contrast to Jimmy, Donna Barclay is afraid to pray. She even says she doesn’t know how to pray. This would also be a relatable experience for listeners. How do you approach the Holy One who already knows everything and can do the impossible? It’s a humbling thought. But with all the reverence Donna has for God, it’s surprising what she actually prays for. She doesn’t like gym class, so she prays for it to be cancelled. She tells God that if He really does answer prayer, He will have to do this favor for her. That’s surprising for Donna’s character. A moment ago she was hesitant to ask God for anything and now, just because Jimmy got his bike, she decides to put God to the test. Soon afterwards, we find Donna very disillusioned about prayer. That seems unlike Donna to me. But at least she made an appearance in this show, in contrast to The Prodigal, Jimmy.
Whit’s prayer vending machine is a clever idea and it helps clarify what prayer is not. Whit also gives a good definition of what prayer is when he says prayer is talking with God. But I felt there was something missing. When Whit came on the scene, I was waiting for some mention of The Lord’s Prayer. I kept waiting for it, but I was disappointed because it never came. In Luke 11, one of Jesus’ disciples says, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” That’s basically the same thing the Barclay kids are saying. As a result, Jesus gives the disciples the Lord’s Prayer. This seems precisely what Jimmy and Donna needed. What was missing from their prayers was a respect for God’s will. If they had read the Lord’s Prayer, they would have read the phrase “Thy will be done.” Having a conversation with God requires accepting His wisdom and ability to do what’s best for us. Whit does a good job describing prayer, but even he admits that there is more to prayer than the quick description he gives. He doesn’t even pray with the kids at the end, another thing I was hoping for. The practice of prayer could have been expanded on more. A thorough explanation of each line of the Lord’s Prayer would have been perfect. This episode gets 3 out of 5 stars.