Run Time: 30 min
Review Based On: All Four Episodes
To be honest, I started watching this series with apprehension. The last two Pureflix original series that I reviewed were slightly painful to watch. To top it off, I’m not a huge fan of dramas. Sitting on my couch and sobbing isn’t usually my idea of a good time. However, The Prayer Box turned out to be a pleasant surprise. After the first couple of episodes, I found myself invested in the characters and I couldn’t wait to see how the story was going to end. Although it has a few weak points, The Prayer Box is a series that gives me hope for the future of Christian television.
The Prayer Box follows the struggles of a little boy, Wesley (Grant Davidson), as his sister battles cancer. Feeling unseen by God, he decides to answer people’s prayer requests in order to get the Lord’s attention. The Prayer Box also stars Denise Richards (The World is Not Enough, Love Actually), Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard, Family Matters), Carey Scott (God’s Not Dead 2, Mad Men), and Chandler DuPont.
My initial nerves were not eased by the opening of the first episode. For several minutes, the audience is left watching Wesley getting ready in the morning with a very boring soundtrack playing in the background. It was extremely slow moving and, if I wasn’t reviwing the film, I would have been tempted to turn it off right then and there. I’m glad I didn’t. The show picked up the pace as it went along and each episode (except for the first one) ends on a cliffhanger that encourages the viewer to continue all the way to the end.
The use of cliffhangers is especially important for this series because, unlike a sitcom, the problems and questions that arise are not solved in a single 30 minute episode. Viewers have to wait until the final episode for all the loose ends to be tied up and the important messages to be made.
This leads me to my biggest complaint with the show (I’m going to get to the good stuff in a minute). Because nothing is resolved until the last episode, I feel that this show could potentially do damage to a person’s faith if not watched in its entirety. With only four 30 minute episodes in the season, it easily could have been made into a movie instead of creating episodes that give people stopping points that they really shouldn’t stop at.
In addition, when they did resolve the issues at the end, I felt that they left out one important message. In the show, Wesley keeps track of the good things that he has done vs. the good deeds that God has done. He puts all the glory for the “miracles” he created on himself. I was really hoping that at the end of the show, someone would point out to him that it may very well be that God was answering those people’s prayers through him. It was a missed message that I felt would have been beneficial.
However, many good points were also made throughout the show. I especially liked the emphasis on how God always sees us and how much He loves us. We don’t have to do anything special for Him to notice us. The messages in the show were highlighted with scripture passages at the start of each episode. It was a nice touch.
Both the cinematography and acting were really good. They weren’t the best I’ve ever seen, but both were solid. As a child actor with a limited resume, Grant Davidson did an excellent job playing Wesley. Denise Richards and Reginald VelJohnson also gave impressive performances.
The best part was that I simply enjoyed the show. I know that that sounds arbitrary, but isn’t that really what a viewer is looking for at the end of the day? There are many technically good shows out there that simply aren’t enjoyable to watch. Have they done their job? Personally, I don’t think so. The Prayer Box, however, gave me characters that I liked and whose stories I wanted to follow. Honestly, this is the first Christian television show I have seen so far that has given me that feeling. Hopefully they will come back for a second season, iron out a few of the issues, and hit a home run!
WHAT AGE GROUP IS IT FOR?
Although this series would probably receive a PG rating, I would recommend it for an audience older than 13. This is because of the topics that are discussed and how the show is formatted. The series talks about death, cancer, not having enough money to pay the bills, and losing faith in God. While none of these topics are inappropriate, they would not resonate with the average young child. Also, since the conclusions to the lessons all come at the end of the series, a young child who only watches one or two episodes (before becoming bored and turning on cartoons) would only be shown the questions put forth against God’s character and not be told about His love for us. Therefore, this series is best suited for a slightly older audience who is committed to watching it in its entirety.
LOOKING TO SHOW IT AT CHURCH?
Although I really enjoy this series for home viewing, it isn’t ideal (though not impossible) for church viewing. As stated before, the series leaves its lessons for the end. Therefore, if a Bible study or confirmation class watched an episode per class, there wouldn’t be much to learn until the last day of class. A class could potentially show it in one sitting, but that would require the meeting to be two hours long.
The best way to show it at church would be in clips. There are several good moments throughout the show that could be shown in conjunction with a sermon. The main topics covered in the show are: the validity of prayer, the struggle to have faith, dealing with life’s challenges, and the importance of helping others.