The other day, a phrase pastors have taught me can mean last week or last year, a friend of mine prayed a “Zack Morris Prayer.” What’s that? Allow me to explain.
My friend stood up in front of a few hundred people to close out a time of morning worship. This is what he said,
“Lord, thank you for blessing us. Thank you for your love. I want to praise you for what a great year you’ve had.”
At this point, people in the crowd started to laugh. The idea of God having a “great year,” is a little comical. Regardless of the recession, God is not going to have a down year. He won’t sit up in heaven with Moses and Enoch saying, “Yeah, I was going to build an angel racquetball court, but with the down economy and what not I just don’t think it would be prudent. When things turn around, maybe, but for now, Cherubim Courts is being put on pause.”
That’s silly, so people laughed and that’s when my friend busted out the Zack Morris Prayer. In the middle of the prayer, he stopped what he was saying and directly addressed the crowd, “What? Seriously, he has had a good year.” I call this a Zack Morris Prayer because Zack, the star of the show “Saved by the Bell,” used to break the fourth wall often. That’s when a television character speaks to the camera and the viewer at home.
Shows like the Office and Modern Family have made that practice commonplace, but in the 80s and 90s, that was pretty special. Growing up, the A-Team didn’t break the fourth wall, Airwolf didn’t break the fourth wall, Magnum P.I. had an inconceivably handsome mustache but even he didn’t break the fourth wall. And then came Zack.
When not fronting his band, the Zack Attack, he would occasionally look at the camera and say, “Hey guys, isn’t it weird that Tori rolls up the sleeves of her leather coat in some episodes? And where did this girl come from? Her magical arrival is more awkward than the time they completely switched out the mom on ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ This is worse than when Jesse Spano got addicted to speed and sang, ‘I’m so excited … I’m so scared.’”
I might have exaggerated a little there at the end, but that was the gist of what Zack Morris did. And it’s similar to what we do, when in a steady flow conversation with God, we break out and address the crowd.
I’m fine with a Zack Morris Prayer, I have no problem with them on one condition. You can’t call out someone in the crowd specifically. You should never stop in the middle of a prayer and say, “Janet, I hope you’re listening. This next part is for you! Your ruffian ways about to be put on notice.”
There is a chance though that I am weird, that I think about things others do not. For instance, can we agree the producers of AC Slater’s new show “Saved by the Baby” spent approximately 2.2 seconds coming up with a name for that thing? You probably have not wasted time on that thought. But maybe you have noticed a Zack Morris Prayer. Maybe you’ve seen that.
In the middle of church or small group, has anyone you’ve been with ever addressed people in the room during the prayer as if they are having a fourth wall conversation?