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TV Series Review

What is a miracle? We may all have different definitions if we were forced to say, I suppose. Some of us might call it an impossibility made possible only through divine intervention—like the sea splitting open or the sun standing still. Others might have a much lower bar. A parking spot in front of the Apple Store? A miracle. But however malleable our mindsets may be, one thing's a constant for all of us: In our own life, we know miracles when we see them.

Answered Prayers, a new faith-centric show on TLC, chronicles miracles—the stories of real men and women who've felt the hand of God in their lives when they needed Him the most.

Starring: God as Himself

The program is hosted by Roma Downey, a woman who has all but become synonymous with miracles, at least on TV. She was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Touched by an Angel, after all. And as co-producer, along with husband Mark Burnett, of the History Channel miniseries The Bible, she was part of a minor ratings miracle. Now she shepherds a show through interview segments and dramatic re-creations that reveal how people's lives were changed because of what they believe is divine help. "It was an act of God," they'll say. "It was a God moment," they'll say. "It was a miracle."

Naturally, a lot of these answered prayers happen when people are praying their hardest. The situations chronicled are often dark, sometimes horrific. We see fires and floods, tornados and personal tragedies. And the (sometimes a bit cheesy) reenactments stress the peril and terror involved.

Those re-creations are generally not over-the-top graphic, but sometimes the real photos/video footage we see can be. Not that anyone could accuse the series of straying into gratuitous territory. We see what we see so that we can understand how bad things got before they get better. As Downey says at the end of the first episode, "When all hope is gone, light finds those who seek it."

Answered Prayers clearly comes with a worthwhile agenda: to show the power and grace of God. Sometimes that power can manifest itself in a talismanic way. In one story, for instance, a tornado tears a house from its foundations—with a family still in it—and carries it about 300 yards away. The family survives, prompting the mom to reference a special stone she held throughout that bore the words, "Protected by angels."

All Miracles Great and Small

In other moments, the idea of God's intervention takes on a more subtle tone. A "divine appointment" here, a "divine nudge" there. And we even see some of what happens afterwards. Things like a man learning to forgive himself after an accident injures his child—and finding God in the process. "I started healing when my son was healing," he says.

This turn to God maybe isn't a miracle in the way it usually works on TV. It's not the sort of dramatic hook that TLC needs to keep people locked on the channel. Yet it's the sort of story that moves me more. The sort of story that matters the most. To Answered Prayers' credit, it tells how God can be seen working not just in life's melodramatic moments, but also in its more quiet ones.

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Episode Reviews

Answered Prayers - July 26, 2015: "Send Me an Angel"



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Paul Asay

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