->''"Prayer: the last refuge of a scoundrel."''
-->-- '''Lisa Simpson''', ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', [[Recap/TheSimpsonsS2E1BartGetsAnF "Bart Gets An F]]"

[[HumiliationConga Nothing seems to be going right.]] The character is continuously failing to make any progress, despite [[{{Determinator}} constantly trying]]. But eventually, they reach a point where they've exhausted all avenues for success and there are no other options.

Now is a good time to pray.

This trope is an observation about the use of prayer in fiction. Praying is seen as a sign that the character is giving up and acknowledging that they have no control, and so for a character to pray as a first response is almost always a sign of weakness. As such, works will typically portray prayer as a last resort or an act of desperation after the character has tried and failed to resolve the conflict on their own.



SubTrope of GodzillaThreshold because it is a sign of a desperation and a willingness to try anything.

TruthInTelevision, if the person doesn't regularly pray, and feels they have exhausted all other options. There are other cases such as people who pray regularly. These people usually do so as a first response, and then try to resolve the issue if that doesn't work or just praying for their attempts to succeed- and this is seen as normal among such people. Then there are the people whose first response is to pray for the strength to solve their problem themselves. Such people would include the GoodShepherd, the ReligiousBruiser, ThePaladin, [[RealMenLoveJesus other manly and religious men]] etc.

If the character issues the prayer as an ultimatum that will determine their belief in God, they're playing ReligiousRussianRoulette. See also CrisisOfFaith, InMysteriousWays, and GodIsGood. Compare and contrast with HaveYouSeenMyGod and EvilStoleMyFaith.

!!Examples:
[[AC:ComicBooks]]
* One of the ''Series/{{Kaamelott}}'' comics has this. Father Blaise is brought along with the expedition, but since he's no good at fighting, they tell him to pray. Despite telling them [[ReligionIsMagic it doesn't work that way]], he keeps at it, and at the climax his holy symbol unloads a TurnUndead against the monsters. When asked how the hell he pulled that off, he reminds them that he's been praying for the past twenty hours.
* In The (in)famous DC comics miniseries "JLAActOfGod", when all the magic/mythical power based heroes lost their powers, we see Diana(Wonder Woman) praying in a Catholic Church... did we mention Diana is more related to the Greek pantheon (and was in fact ''literally made by them'') than to the Judeo Christian one, or that she lives on a [[FantasyKitchenSink World where supernatural creatures and Gods]] [[AllMythsAreTrue are known to be real]] [[PalsWithJesus and commonly seen around with other heroes in a regular basis]]?
* In the ''ComicBook/{{Chick Tract|s}}'' "War Zone", Principal Ward, confronted with parents of Westmont students who are angry about the state of the failing school, says he's tried everything, only for things to keep getting worse, and that, "The '''only''' thing I can think of is to... uh, '''pray for a miracle'''" He gets booed off the stands, but this being a Chick tract, prayer and converting students to Christianity ''is'' what [[DeusExMachina miraculously]] gets Westmont back on track.

[[AC: FanFic]]
* In ''FanFic/DirtySympathy'' when Klavier and Apollo [[spoiler: flee the country after Phoenix questions Apollo with the Magatama]], Klavier prays to God to keep Apollo safe.

[[AC:{{Film}}]]
* PatchAdams.. [[RageAgainstTheHeavens Sort of.]]
* George Bailey in ItsAWonderfulLife. It's downplayed in that his GuardianAngel Clarence has been looking out for him all along.
* ''Film/ConanTheBarbarian1982'' (the Scharzanegger film).
-->Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That's what's important! Valor pleases you, Crom... so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!
** Justified, in that in the original stories Crom ''will'' kill people who pray to him for direct aid.
* Arnie also prayed toward the end of ''Film/EndOfDays'' [[spoiler: and since he's fighting off DemonicPossession from Satan himself, it's appropriate.]]
* ''Film/{{Patton}}''. During the Battle of the Bulge the situation is desperate. The Germans are winning and Allied air support is grounded because of the bad weather. Patton calls in an Army chaplain and orders him to write a prayer to ask for good weather so Allied planes can smash the German forces.
* ''OBrotherWhereArtThou'' Everett near the end, about to be killed by the Warden, asks God to save him. After being saved, he goes right back to being an atheist, denying that God had any hand in it.
* Played ham-fistedly straight in ''Film/StarshipTroopers3Marauder'', where Holly convinces Lola Beck to pray with her because [[DarkestHour they have nothing left to lose]]. Holly then proceeds to pray for God to send them an army of Angels to save them... [[MeaningfulBackgroundEvent as behind Holly]] [[TheCavalry Rico's Marauders can be seen]] [[ItsRainingMen dropping from orbit]], and forming a BackgroundHalo on her.
* Played with in the opening [[UnwinnableTrainingSimulation Kobayashi Maru simulation]] in ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan''. After [[ProsceniumReveal Kirk enters the simulation room]], Saavik asks for his suggestions, and he drily replies, "Prayer."

[[AC:Jokes]]
* There is a joke about an atheist praying to God when about to be devoured by a bear, asking to make the bear a Christian. [[spoiler:[[CrossesTheLineTwice The bear says "thank you for]] [[BlackComedy this meal I am about to receive."]]]]
* There's one about a man praying to be be rescued, and another boat comes along, a helicopter comes along, and so on, and he turns all these down waiting for ''God'' to come save him. The man dies and meets God in the afterlife, so he asks "Why didn't you save me?" "What do you mean?" God replies. "I sent a boat, a helicopter..."
* An atheist is about to be eaten by the [[StockNessMonster Loch Ness Monster]] (or similar cryptozoological beast), and in his last desperate moment calls out to God for help. Time suddenly stops and he hears a voice from Heaven:
-->'''God:''' Why should I help you when you never believed in Me before?
-->'''Atheist:''' To be fair, five minutes ago I didn't believe in the Loch Ness Monster either!
* There is an old saying: "There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole." The traditional response is "That's not an argument against atheism, it's an argument against ''[[WarIsHell foxholes]]''."
* A GoodOlBoy is fixing his barn roof when he begins to slip. He calls out "God, save me!" as he falls. His overalls get caught on a nail, saving his life. ComicallyMissingThePoint, he then tells God to never mind, as the nail saved him.

[[AC:{{Literature}}]]
* In ''Literature/DeceptionPoint'' when the cast are about to freeze to death (having been trapped on an ice sheet by a group of [[TheDragon Delta force]] soldiers) the female lead comments it probably looks like she's doing this in her internal monologue, but she's actually [[spoiler: attempting to tap out an SOS message in the hope a secret array of microphones might pick it up. It doesn't, but luckily a submarine was passing nearby).]]
* Lampshaded by Creator/HBeamPiper in the story "A Slave Is a Slave". After a [[StrawmanPolitical strawman liberal]] character has misquoted the Literature/{{Foundation}} line about "the last refuge of the incompetent", the viewpoint character muses that it is true in that "only an incompetent waited until the last resort to use force, and by then it was usually too late to use anything, even prayer."
* Played with in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novel ''Discworld/GoingPostal''. Once when Moist von Lipwig, con artist turned postmaster, is in dire need of money to repair his post office which has just been burned down, he pretends to a) pray for divine guidance and b) get it before "discovering" his stash of loot from his conman days. Later, when he is in dire straits again, another character semi-sarcastically suggests he should go up to the roof of the Post Office and pray, which he eventually does -- which is the cue some potential allies take that he's serious about wanting to help.
** In ''Discworld/MakingMoney'', Moist does resort to praying to Anoia, [[OddJobGods Goddess of Lost Causes and Things Stuck in Drawers]]. [[spoiler:When [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane a very strange coincidence]] saves him from his ex-partner in crime Cribbins, he resolves to make a thanksgiving offering, just to be on the safe side.]]
* Shows up a few times in the Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar books. Justified at least once with the comment that a Herald's first instinct is to try and fix a problem, so they won't pray for help unless ''nothing'' is working.
* Subverted in ''ASongOfIceAndFire''. Arya Stark is captured by the [[TheDreaded Mountain That Rides]], who selects a random prisoner each day for torture, interrogation and death. Nothing saves the victims; not resistance, co-operation, bribery or professions of loyalty. As a wannabe BadassPrincess, this passive role infuriates Arya and so originates the PrayerOfMalice that she keeps up throughout the series; a recitation of the names of those she plans to kill ''herself''.
* ''Literature/ThePriestTheScientistAndTheMeteor'' has the priest praying to God to save Earth from the dinosaur-ghost ridden meteor. [[spoiler: It works.]]
* ''Literature/AWolfInTheSoul'' has a mixed example. [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent Greg]] begins to question his disbelief in God [[EasyEvangelism surprisingly quickly]], but his prayers are at first half-hearted because of his uncertainty. Even when he starts to believe and pray out of desperation, he does so merely because Holmes said it would help, and his prayers are still fairly rote and dispassionate. It is only when he sincerely thanks God for the existence of his best friend that he [[spoiler:takes a major step towards being cured]].

[[AC:LiveActionTV]]
* ''Series/TheDukesOfHazzard'': In the Season 5 episode "Witness: Jesse Duke," Uncle Jesse, a witness to a bank robbery, has suffered a concussion and lost his eyesight (temporarily, as it turns out). When all available treatments are showing no signs of restoring his eyesight, Daisy breaks down in tears and starts a tear-wrought prayer to God to restore her beloved uncle's eyesight. Unlike many TV episodes, where this trope is used by a scoundrel to worm his way out of a situation he caused, prayer as a last resort is portrayed positively here: A family that, when the chips are down and all else has failed, turns to God and trusts in Him for things to be made right.
* ''Series/LittleHouseOnThePrairie'': A common trope seen in many episodes, underscoring the deep Christian faith of the main characters. Mind you, the outcomes were not always positive -- for instance, in "I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away," Charles and Caroline desperately pray for a miracle to save Mary's sight, but Mary goes blind anyway. Hence, the message was that even though things don't always turn out positively, God has a plan, often different than what the protagonists were hoping, and it is them that must decide how to deal with the conflict.
* ''This is the Life'' and other Christian anthology series from the 1950s through early 1990s: Once again, prayer is often a sign of strength, an admission that secular ways of resolving conflict isn't always the right way (in fact, it is often the wrong way), and that by trusting God and His guidance, and walking in His ways, it may not make things "all better" but it will make us better people.
* In ''Series/FatherTed'' the title character is only ever seen praying when he wants something, usually to avoid getting into trouble. It rarely works.
* In ''Series/TheXFiles'' season 7 pilot, all Scully can do for a dying Mulder is to pray. It helps. (This particular season-finale/season-opener trilogy was huge on hinting that Mulder is Jesus in purgatory, suffering for humanity whose sacriffice might save us.)
* Referenced by Dean Winchester in season 5 of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. As the Apocalypse begins, the heroes conclude that the only party powerful enough to stop both the forces of Hell and Heaven from destroying Earth is the [[HaveYouSeenMyGod long-absent God]], so they go looking for him.
--> '''Sam''': Go looking for God? Last I heard you [[RageAgainstTheHeavens wanted to kick God's ass]] [for allowing the Apocalypse to happen].
--> '''Dean''': Prayer: call it the last call of a desperate man.
** Mocked by the Yellow-Eyed Demon as he's about to slaughter a room full of nuns in 4.22 Lucifer Rising.
* {{Discussed}} in one of ''{{Roseanne}}'''s final episodes. The family is gathered together with pizza after going through several recent cataclysms, most notably the premature birth and miraculous survival of Darlene's baby. Roseanne notes that while they should say prayers before eating, rather than always waiting until something bad happens before turning to God.
* In the ''Series/AttackOfTheShow'' skit "Bustice and Power Girl Save The Nuclear Power Planet", said plant is about to go into meltdown, despite everything a pair of badly-acting whitecoated technicians can do to stop it.
-->"What can we do?!"
-->"You're not a religious man, are you?"
-->"No."
-->"Then I don't know what to tell you."
* In the premiere miniseries for BattlestarGalacticaReimagined, Doc Cottle, a man of no particular or obvious faith, further hammers home Laura Roslin's prognosis to the audience.
-->"I would seriously consider prayer."

[[AC:{{Music}}]]
* The second verse of "Hold On" by Music/SarahMcLachlan:
-->Oh God, if you're out there won't you hear me?\\
I know we've never talked before--\\
Oh God, the man I love is leaving,\\
Won't you take him when he comes to your door?
* Subverted in Music/SteveEarle's "Tom Ames' Prayer", about a bankrobber who finds himself "trapped in an alley in Abilene with all but four shells spent" and turns to God for the first time in his life... only to wind up bragging at length about that time he saved himself from hanging and concluding:
-->"Yeah, but who the hell am I talkin' to, there ain't no one here but me."
-->And then he [[DramaticGunCock cocked both his pistols]] and he [[SpitefulSpit spit in the dirt]] and he [[DefiantToTheEnd walked out in the street]].
* This is the theme behind El-P's song "Flyentology", and not, in fact, a rap about flies or... [[ChurchOfHappyology other stuff.]] Specifically, it's about a guy in a soon-to-crash plane talking to God as it's in free-fall.
--> I adore you,
--> The same way that others always adored you,
--> Emergency humility, just break glass.

[[AC: RolePlayingGames]]

* This idea was alluded to in several background characters in ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG''. In the [[WhatIf alternate ending]] ''December 21, 2010'' there are several people mentioned in passing to be praying to various beings - even those who had never even believed in a deity - and background characters were spotted doing this in the FinalBattle. It was finally brought into the forefront with the introduction of Dr. Shaw, who, while a capable surgeon, is mentally unstable and greatly broken by the war to the point where she desperately clings to some form of faith in an attempt at comfort. Of course just ''which'' deity is another matter entirely- [[ClassicalMythology Greek Mythology]], EgyptianMythology, NorseMythology, [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall PeabodySam]], [[MythologyGag Ole Kirk Christiansen, Kjield Kirk Christiansen]], [[LEGOUniverse the First Builders]], [[ThankTheMaker Creator, Builder]], and even UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}}, UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}}, and UsefulNotes/{{Islam}} are all brought into the mix as possible sources of faith and prayer.

[[AC:TabletopGames]]
* In ''TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles'' RPG, one of the faith-based supernatural powers allows you to do this. When your party's in dire straits, if you have the power, you can pray to basically have the god of your choice smite your enemies and save your ass.
* A genuine option in the TableTopGames/{{Pathfinder}} pen & paper RPG, high level clerics have tiny chance (a matter of 3% or so) to turn the tide massively in their favour when all seems lost by praying to their god(s).
* In the board game ''Tales of the Literature/ArabianNights'' some seemingly unwinnable situations can be salvaged or even turned to your advantage by selecting the reaction "Pray." It rarely ''hurts'' you and sometimes can pull out near-miraculous results like the evil Bedouin horde being chased off by a swarm of [[EverythingsWorseWithBees angry bees]] before they can attack you. Or the EvilVizier who threw you in the dungeon mysteriously dying before he can order your execution.
* In ''{{Exalted}}'', its noted that for the general populace praying to the Unconquered Sun is done only once the situation is past the GodzillaThreshold, because asking for his help would imply that giving Creation the light and warmth necessary for humanity's survival isn't enough. To quote ''Glories'': "It is said that the Unconquered Sunís blessings come with a hard touch of disaster that leaves his subjects amidst the curse and ruin of his [[HolyHandGrenade apocalyptic miracles]]. Because of this, prayers to the Most High often come in the form of thanks for rented light and another dayís lease on lifeófor any day when the Unconquered Sun didnít act directly on their behalf is another day where his wrath was stayed."

[[AC:{{Theatre}}]]
* In ''Theatre/{{Pippin}}'', when Theo's duck Otto gets very sick, Pippin can do no more for it than kneel down together with Theo and pray all day. Then the duck dies.

[[AC:VideoGames]]
* ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' has this in its final battle. The final boss is defeated by praying to everyone the protagonists have met on their journey, [[spoiler: and the player.]]
* ''VideoGame/NetHack'' has this for all characters. If you haven't bothered your god too much lately, and you're in big trouble of some sort, there's a pretty good chance they will help you out.
* In ''VideoGame/LegendOfLegaia'', after defeating [[spoiler:Songi]] at Noaru Valley, the [[WorldTree Great Genesis Tree]] appears to be on the verge of death, and is too weak to be revived. With the life of the Seru-kai and their own lives about to perish along with it, Gala suggests they turn to their faith as their last bastion of hope and pray for a miracle.

[[AC:WebComics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Nanase [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=1011 pleads God to help her]] when she experiences death repeatedly through her fairy doll avatars while battling Abraham.

[[AC:WesternAnimation]]
* This also happened at least once on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', in "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS2E1BartGetsAnF Bart Gets an F]]" and "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS7E4BartSellsHisSoul Bart Sells His Soul]]".
** Also parodied in Homer's famous quote: "I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me, {{Superman}}!"
** In another episode Homer ends up signing on to do missionary work in the South Pacific [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext to get out of paying a huge sum to PBS]], and objects that "I don't even believe in [[{{Malaproper}} Jebus]]!" As the plane flies off he runs to the window and calls "Save me, Jebus!"
* In one episode of ''TheBoondocks'' animated series, Huey exhibits this trope. After [[spoiler: all his plans to save an innocent black man from execution have apparently failed]], at the last minute, he breaks down and prays; saying that he's never prayed before, and isn't sure who he's praying to, but that he knows the world isn't supposed to be like this. [[spoiler: Moments later, as they're about to flip the switch for the electric chair, lightning strikes Reverend Ruckus ([[TemptingFate just as he dares God to strike him with lightning if any of his racist preaching doesn't come from God himself]]), then the governor calls off the execution as one of Huey's plans (Threatening to expose the governor's gay affair, not knowing about one but figuring there was about a 5% chance that one existed) comes to fruition.]]
* In an episode of ''FamilyGuy,'' Brian, a notoriously outspoken atheist prays to god when he thinks the world is ending.
* Quite a few ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' characters pray in hopeless situations, such as falling from great heights or restrained and awaiting execution.

[[AC: Real Life]]
* In Discordianism, prayer is generally inadvisable.
--> Erisians seldom pray. The Goddess might be '''listening'''.
* The FamousLastWords of Creator/{{Voltaire}} were a play on this trope. He was asked to turn to God and renounce Satan on his deathbed, and he replied "Now is not the time to make new enemies.". Voltaire was not an atheist, but he was very unconventional in his beliefs in God.