At the end of episode four of Hourou Musuko, a scene occured which took me by surprise (in a good way). Chiba heads toward a facility – at first, we’re unsure of what it is, but it soon becomes clear that it is some sort of church or cathedral. There, she bows and prays.
Please bless that idiot Sashio with some brains and the pox
And let Nitori be Juliet.
And instead of Takatsuki,
Let me be Romeo.
Christians often like to say that “God isn’t a genie.” He doesn’t wait for our prayers so that He can grant our every wish. Do you remember in Bruce Almighty when Jim Carrey is so overwhelmed by prayers that he just makes “yes” his answer for every one? It led to unexpected and troubling consequences.
Chiba treats God as a genie in the church scene. Perhaps this is because she is viewing the Christian God through a Japanese lens. Japanese religion has been called “practical,” and often involves asking kami or other venerated beings for some sort of wish. I won’t sit and pretend that the character Chiba was written as a committed Christian – her attitude, age, and apparent avoidance of church seems to indicate otherwise – but there’s something to be said about her method of prayer.
Chiba comes to God with a sincere heart. By sincere, I mean that she not only prays exactly what’s on her mind, but doesn’t present a front before God. She’s absolutely honest in what she says and means. She doesn’t hide (humorous) disdain for her teacher and presents her selfish wishes (at the detriment of another) to God.
Prayer can be rigid and boring. But this is not the type of prayer that’s expressed in the Bible. Prayers in the Bible were passionate (Jeremiah), appealing (Abraham), argumentative (Moses), and personal (Jesus). Pray-ers sometimes wished harm on others, asked for blessing for themselves, and cried “woe is me.” The prayers of the Bible were rarely the ones we hear in churches today – they were raw and honest.
And while there’s something to be said about Chiba’s heart motivations, I think God would be proud of the sincerity of her prayer. And perhaps for those of us who pray with little heart or who are trying to learn more about prayer, we can learn a little something from this moody girl.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
~ I Samuel 16:7b