Does God ever speak to you through Disney movies? Because he sure does to me.
I really, really like Disney. I’ve known every word to every single song since I was 12, I can sit right now and sing to you the entire Wishes show from Magic Kingdom, I dress up as princesses and sing to kids as my job, and I am going to the Disney College Program in the fall. My whole life has a couple of running themes, and one of them is Disney.
One of my favorite Disney movies, possibly my favorite of all time, is the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’ve explained to some friends before why it is so important to me. It was the first movie that ever challenged my spiritual beliefs. It was the first one that didn’t sugar coat evil and chose to show what real cruelty was in the world, even in the most unexpected of people. It taught me to show kindness and equality to people who were different than me, and it taught me how that same loving nature can come from people who I least expected. It doesn’t cover the world in glitter and sing you a song about how wonderful life is while waiting for your prince to come save you. It shows the real world with very real people, and it shows how you can still find joy and peace in the midst of trying and evil times.
A song I have loved since I was little is God Help the Outcasts. Esmerelda is a gypsy, and she finds herself in a church where she has claimed sanctuary. She is being hunted down for a crime she has been falsely accused of, and in her solitude she begins a conversation with God. She speaks of how she’s been told she can’t talk to him because of who she is and where she is from. She asks for mercy for her people that they haven’t been able to find from anybody else. She begs God to help these outcasts, because nobody else will.
But what really gets me is what comes next. We can hear the calls of the other people in the church, and their prayers are quite sickening.
“I ask for wealth. I ask for fame. I ask for glory to shine on my name. I ask for love I can possess. I ask for God and his angels to bless me!”
I’ve listened to this song more times than I could possibly count, and these prayers have angered me every time. Who are these people to pray for such things when there is so much injustice in the world? They are asking for so many fleeting things and ignoring the ones with eternal significance. And then the other day something finally hit me.
Those prayers are me. How many times have I asked God for wealth, thinking that it was the only way to measure success? How many times have I asked for a larger platform, claiming I wanted it to share Christ with more people but really just wanting to be recognized and validated? How many times have I asked God to let people hear my name and think highly of me, to know who I was and to desire to be like me? I have done those things so many times. I have asked for love that was tangible, whether that be in friendships or romantic relationships. I have asked for God to bless me in so many of these ways and more, when I have yet to pray for things that matter.
“I ask for nothing, I can get by. But I know so many less lucky than I. Please help my people, the poor and down trod. I thought we all were the children of God. God help the outcasts, children of God.”
I want my prayers to be more like THAT. I want to pray first for the needs of others. I want to be on my knees, as low as I can be, begging my Lord to change things in the world in the way only he can. All of God’s blessings are nothing compared to the joy it is to know him. Why would I choose wealth when I could see somebody come to know Christ? Why would I choose fame when I could see the gospel taken to people groups it has never been told to? Why would I ask for love that I can hold in my arms when I could see other people have the love of the Father and Healer of the World?
I want to stop praying these hypocritical, disgusting prayers, and I want to start praying for things that matter. If we truly believe that prayer makes a difference, then we need to stop believing that our wants are important and start focusing on the needs of the entire world. Because wealth, fame, glory, and human love will all pass away. But the message of love from Jesus Christ and the possibility of seeing more people love him in return is something that will live on until the end of time.