What Wonder Woman 1984 Teaches Us About Prayer and Desire
“Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.”- James Baldwin
In Wonder Woman 1984, Diana continues her duty as a watchful but mournful guardian. She’s willing to save people but cannot bring herself to develop relationships. Meanwhile, the film’s main villain, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), tries to peddle greed via his informercials. Both nurse hearts wounded by deferred dreams and dead wishes. Their depressed states seem etched in rock until they encounter the dreamstone: a gem that grants the wish of anyone holding it. Though not spoken out loud or with much faith, Diana wishes to be with her beloved Steve again (who sacrificed himself in the first film). In order to resurrect all his narcissistic wants, Max wishes to become the dreamstone itself. Both wishes are granted with great immediacy.
If most Christians are honest, we often wish God would answer our prayers with the same urgency. Our sense of wasted time is not helped when everyone around us seems to be successful in record time. Our impatience is not helped by the American Dream of prosperity intruding on our humble Christian reality. Our lack of perseverance is amplified by the prevalence of an entire theology that revolves around God wanting to shower His children with wealth and health. Unlike God, Max Lord has no qualms about granting any and every whim.
God has given us desires, so there is nothing wrong with asking Him for things like a spouse or a job or a family. However, wishes and prayers are not the same. Wishes are wants absent of context and excessive in selfishness. We can also confuse wants and desires, resulting in impatience and frustration as time ticks away without them being met. Asking for fulfilled desires is only one patch in the quilt of prayer. Bound in faith, prayer is where our hearts are unburdened, and our spirit is free to commune with God. Through prayer, we may find that God is asking us to do something outside of our wants. God wants us to desire a relationship with Him. Yet, if we are unable to untangle our wants from God’s will, it does have a cost.
As Max Lord grants more wishes, the cost is his most treasured possession: his health. Lord’s solution is to take away other people’s health. Similarly, although Steve adds love back to Diana’s life, it also saps her strength and restricts her ability to help other people in need. When we seek to grant our own wishes, we must sustain ourselves without God. Self-sustenance is never satiated because our hearts always howl for the moon. Becoming our own dreamstones only subtracts from our lives.
Prayers cost and demand more than greedy, needy wishes. The time between a God-driven request and an answered prayer is God’s real work. Any sacrificed wish is only down payment for a future payout of perseverance, patience, and time. This type of currency is needed for greater, more dynamic prayers down the road. We never know how God will use us as a conduit to nurture present and future generations. Diana renounced her wish for this reason: she had to save today by embodying prayers to create a better tomorrow.