Prayer Ninjas Welcomed to Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, CA – A lot happened on that Church Youth Retreat when I was 9 years old.

I got to watch Mitch almost get electrocuted trying to wire a remote control receiver into the Girls’ light switch so we could turn the lights on and off at will. It backfired.

Later – through a mutual friend – I agreed to “go with” Tara which I think meant that we were boyfriend/girlfriend for an hour and 12 minutes before she dumped me — through the same messenger. Girls are weird.

Then at the end, when we were asked what God was putting on our hearts to be when we grew up I wrote these two words:

“Entertainment Industry”

And by that time the next year, at age 10, I was the VP of Development at Disney.

No, not really. But how cool would that have been? WRONG! That would have been horrible, what’s wrong with you?! I wasn’t prepared for puberty, much less executive level decision making!

Anyway, it didn’t happen on my time-table, but thirty-three years later I have arrived in Hollywood. The Entertainment Industry, at last!

Devon Franklin can relate. He wanted to start his own Production Company when he graduated High School at age 18. He is now 36 and has just left a lucrative position as a Sony Executive with some amazing Film credits under his belt to begin Franklin Entertainment — his own production company!

“So many people want the elevator. Take me up there fast. Straight to the top,” DeVon says. Then he hammers in this truth, “God says you can wait for the elevator all day and it may never arrive; or you can take the stairs and start climbing today.”

Now, if I were God, I would have put me to work in LA immediately making just under 7 figures on a 12 picture development deal. But He hasn’t done that, yet. Spielberg has yet to call me. And nobody will tell me when I get my Star put on the walk of fame. I mean, is that week 5? Or 6?

No, instead, for the last three weeks I’ve been meeting with Christians in the industry. Actors, Editors, Producers, Film Instructors, TV Writers, Executives, Show Runners, etc. God’s people are everywhere! And then I hit the motherlode!

The Hollywood Prayer Network.

Founded by Karen Covell in 2003, this group began as a resource for entertainment professionals in the faith-based community; it equips creative artists and professionals to thrive personally and professionally in the arts, media, and entertainment industries.

And it just so happened they were partnering with “The National Day of Prayer” group for an event called “The Summons.” For 5 days in Hollywood, strategic prayer partners from all over the US met with Hollywood Insiders to hear how God is moving in the Film and TV industry. The goal was not just to be blown away by Tinseltown stories and testimonies, but so that they could come alongside these Hollywood professionals to support them in prayer and intercession.

Now, there are people who pray, and then there are Prayer Warriors. Just like there are people who play paintball in the woods, and there is Seal Team 6. You must imagine that this group that gathered from across the United States was the Seal Team 6 of Intercessors. A Task Force of Prayer Ninjas headed up by Shirley Dobson.

Everyone was encouraged to hear that when The Hollywood Prayer Network began, they were able to find about 8 Christians around Hollywood. Today there are over 10,000. That is quite a remnant the Lord has established.

“You know it surprises me how many Christians are in the industry here,” said Nathan Wisener from Colorado. “My mindset was that I didn’t think there was anyone out here. You know you’re always given the impression from other people that it’s a very dark place. But I came here and saw some light.”

Each of the Hollywood Insiders had stories about being involved in Projects that they initially wanted to run from, but told how, because they stayed, God was able to use them to change lives, redirect scripts and to be a shoulder to lean on for other crew members in crisis. Karen Covell, for instance, was mortified when she was assigned to Produce a one-hour TV story on Playboy Creator Hugh Hefner. But God had other plans.

It culminated with an interview in which the icon of sexual promiscuity told about being raised by harsh, distant parents who never told him they loved him. “His mother never hugged or kissed him, he said, because of her fear of germs.” In the opulent Playboy Mansion, surrounded by Playboy bunnies, the interviewers brought Mr. Hefner, clad in his black pajamas, to confess that “he’s still just a little boy trying to find love.” They exposed his futile attempt to substitute sex for love and the pain behind the Playboy façade, the God-shaped vacuum in Mr. Hefner’s heart (

That interview which Hef described as “my favorite interview” opened doors for Covell to encourage him on a couple of different occasions. And baby steps like that are happening all across Los Angeles.

Dean Batali is a Television Writer and Executive Producer who wrote for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “That 70s Show.” He talked about being the Salt and Light described in Matthew 5:13. He explained that while Salt has healing properties, in certain instances its primary use is to slow down decay. His continued prayer is for the Lord to lead him to the projects where he can do good — and from SpongeBob to UpTV it’s been a fascinating journey.

Os Hillman is president of Marketplace Leaders, an organization whose purpose is to help men and women discover and fulfill God’s complete purposes through their work and to view their work as ministry. He explained how Christians have fled from the 7 Cultural Mountains for years: Government, Education, Media, Religion, Family, Business and Arts&Entertainment. Their absence has created a void that now requires agents of change — talented and Godly individuals to climb back up those mountains to lead and direct.

Many of the Hollywood Insiders talked about their daily struggle in the workplace to be a force for the good, the true and the beautiful. They discussed openly the resistance they received from their secular co-workers – which they fully expected — but also, surprisingly, from Christians across the country who attacked them regularly.

For example, despite the major miracle for Martha Williamson to get a show on CBS Network Television about Angels dispensing God’s love and mercy in every episode — “Touched by an Angel” — she got vehement letters from Christian brothers and sisters for selling out and for “hiding” Jesus and watering down the Gospel, etc.

In fact, what many of these Hollywood Insiders had found in their time in LA as they built relationships with Studios and Networks was that so many of the “anti-christian” voices in Los Angeles were people who at one time had been chewed up and spit out by the church.

Hm. Something to reflect hard upon.

So, after each Hollywood Professional had a chance to speak, the tables were turned and the Prayer Ninjas gathered around and went to work praying for each person.

“I’m a Lutheran,” one Producer joked, “I don’t know what to do!” and the team laughed and told her to just sit there and receive their prayers.

Another script writer admitted afterward that although he has been prayed for in the past, the three times he was prayed over at The Summons was unlike anything he had experienced before. With tears in his eyes, he thanked the group for their ministry, their encouragement and their Godly insight.

While one group of Prayer Ninjas sat in on various sessions, the others were sent out on buses to key locations around Hollywood, onto Studio lots, Scientology Headquarters, etc, just to walk and pray over the workers there.

“The hurts and facades of people are exacerbated in this city,” lamented Dr. Lou Shirey of Oklahoma City. “I think that’s what hits me so deep. A place of just insecure people who gathered together and if they can just hear the Good News of Jesus and have the security of Christ,” he paused here tearing up at the thought of it, “ah, it just hits me so.”

Another Prayer Ninja who was deeply impacted was Debbi Warthen from Oregon.

“I don’t have a TV. I’ve avoided Hollywood. Just have never really cared for the Hollywood scene,” she admitted. “When people would come down here I would pray that they wouldn’t. It was sin city. I never even thought of praying for the actors and the actresses.”

She came to Hollywood to transform the city and leaves, herself, forever changed.

“I felt the Lord leading me up to Universal City and was just walking around there by myself and praying with people and the Lord was speaking to me,” here she began to get choked up, “not to lose this. ‘Debbie, you’re to take this back with you. You are to take this back and let your people know the need for prayer here in Hollywood.’”

She found a good price on an “I Love Hollywood” t-shirt and bought it and put it on immediately. But, Debbie already knows how her religious friends back home will react when she comes home wearing this shirt.

“People are gonna say to me, ‘Debbie why are YOU wearing a T-shirt that says I love Hollywood? You have been so anti-TV!’ And I’m going to say, ‘Because God has softened my heart and touched my heart to know the battlefield down there and they need prayer. We need to stop judging the films.’ I’m going to give them what was given to me: ‘Sit there at the end of the movie and pray for every name that comes up on the film credits, don’t just leave!’

She smiled a huge, beautiful smile and you can only imagine that Oregon is in for a huge awakening when this Prayer Ninja gets back to town.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force considers this short term mission trip a huge success.

“Because what we found is that God is alive and well in this city,” said John Bornscheim from Colorado. “He is moving in the hearts of people. We’ve been in Studios where the Executives are Christians, where staff are Christians, to find out there’s 10,000 believers here who need us to come alongside and affirm them; letting them know that the Saints are going to be praying for them for the work that they’re doing here in the Tribe of Hollywood!”

Whew. And all of this barely even scratches the surface of what took place over the last 5 days in Hollywood, California. I came away from the event with dozens of new friends, 15 business cards and industry contacts, a to-do list as long as my arm and at least 5 Prayer Ninjas who promised to pray for me, my family and my personal Hollywood Journey.

Welcome to Hollywood.



About the Author:

S. David Acuff currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Visionary. Filmmaker. Screenwriter. Lip Trumpeter. Character voices. Blogateer. All for one and one for all and 3 for a dollar!