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Prayer of Malice

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"I pray your brakes go out running down a hill.
I pray a flower pot falls from a windowsill,
And knocks you in the head like I'd like to.
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls.
I pray you're flying high, when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true.
Just know wherever you are honey, I pray for you."
Pray For You, by Jaron and The Long Road to Love

A character is praying to God or to other similar deity known to be benevolent and merciful. However, this devotee is praying for malice, begging God to be petty and cruel. The technical name for this kind of thing in Christianity is an "imprecatory prayer", although there is much controversy over whether God would ever answer or approve of one. The more colloquial term for this kind of thing is a Curse, especially if this prayer has any kind of supernatural effect.

For example, a Racist Grandma may pray that the Good Lord kill her black in-law, a Heteronormative Crusader may pray that the sweet local gay couple will get HIV, anyone may pray that their rich uncle or disliked neighbor will die, and so on. Of course, not all prayers of malice are portrayed as Kick the Dog moments; it can also be portrayed as Good is Not Nice, Good Is Not Soft, Beware the Nice Ones, and Pay Evil unto Evil could also be at play.

If the character does this in a way that superficially comes across as very sweet and innocent, it may be Sugary Malice as well. Simply praying for victory in a conflict does not count (unless the prayer is accompanied by expressions of ill will toward the opponent over and above implicitly hoping they lose).

Things get even more interesting if there should turn out to be an Answer to Prayers.

Subtrope of Egocentrically Religious. Compare Holy Hand Grenade, when divine malice is weaponized in a holy artifact, which may easily overlap if the artifact is summoned by prayer. Compare and contrast Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter, when a person dares God to be malicious to themself. If played for Black Comedy, it's overlapping with Silly Prayer.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the 3rd Fushigi Yuugi OVA, Mayo is told by a demon posing as Suzaku to pray for the destruction of the Konan empire (the very opposite of what she's supposed to do as priestess), motivating her with the threat that Taka and the other Seishi were planning on ripping Miaka's baby out of her body, and the promise that he could prevent that and ensure that she would live Happily Ever After with Taka and the baby.
  • Dramacon: In the first volume, Christie is angry that Matt, her neighbor in the artist's alley is doing better business than she is (coupled with the fact that he rubs her the wrong way and she's already dealing with her asshole boyfriend's behavior) and prays to God to help her persevere. And also strike Matt down with a lightning bolt. When that immediately fails, she prays to Satan.
  • Dusk Maiden of Amnesia: As she lies dying in the shrine to a malevolent mountain god, Yuuko offers her life in exchange for the ability to wreak vengeance from beyond the grave. Her wish is granted when she comes back as an onryō.

  • George Carlin's "opening prayer" routine.
    Carlin: Please, God, let me do a good show tonight. Don't let me be an asshole. Don't let anyone yell 'too late'...
    Guy in audience: Too late!
    Carlin: ...and punish those who do.
    • Later on in that routine, Carlin also requested that God give Barry Manilow "a boil on his ass."

    Comic Books 
  • In Chick Tracts, this is sometimes done by Catholics, non-evangelical Protestants, and so on. Within the context of the Author Tract, this "proves" that only evangelicals are Real Christians.

    Comic Strips 
  • Done twice by Jason in Comic Strip/Foxtrot, both involving his crush/rival Eileen Jacobson. At the height of the Pokemon TCG craze, he prayed to God that "if he were kind and loving, he would let this pack contain a holofoil Charizard I can laugh in Eileen Jacobson's face". Years later, he prayed that he would crush Eileen on the next day's math test, before amending it to "let me crush everyone".

    Fan Works 
  • The Silmarillion fanfic A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: As talking to Beren and Luthien, Tulkas -the setting's equivalent of a god of fighting- tells them he has been somewhat keeping abreast of their (mis)adventures since Luthien's father started begging him to smite his daughter's fiancé several times a day. Outraged, Luthien demands to know whether Tulkas hurt Beren, and the god replies of course he did not.
    Luthien: "How do you know all this — milord?"
    Tulkas: "Oh, I was following the story off and on from a long ways back — even before what's-his-name, the guy who didn't come back — Thingol — got my attention begging me to smite him couple-three times a day. Nia said this was one I'd li —"
    Luthien: [interrupting, outraged] "You didn't!"
    Tulkas: "— Of course not. That's not how it works, anyway, and your dad knows it."
  • Why Am I Crying?: After another day of being bullied by Diamond Tiara, Apple Bloom goes home and wishes on the stars that something bad would happen to her. The next day, she finds out that Diamond Tiara has been hit and killed by a speeding carriage. Apple Bloom is devastated when she finds out, fearing that her prayer killed Diamond. She eventually confesses what she prayed for to Diamond's father Filthy Rich, but instead of being furious, Filthy relieves her of her guilt by revealing to her that the time of Diamond's death was 5:13 pm, before there were any stars in the sky.

  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo's song "Hellfire" includes a prayer to the Virgin Mary for Esmeralda to burn in Hell or else become his.
    Protect me, Maria! Don't let this siren cast her spell!
    Don't let her fire sear my flesh and bone!
    Destroy Esmerelda, and let her taste the fires of Hell —
    Or else let her be mine and mine alone!
  • We Were Soldiers has Hal Moore running into one of his new lieutenants in an empty church, and offers to pray with him. It starts out decently enough.
    Moore: Our Father in Heaven, before we go into battle, every soldier among us will approach you each in his own way. Our enemies too, according to their own understanding, will ask for protection and for victory. And so, we bow before your infinite wisdom. We offer our prayers as best we can. I pray you watch over the young Jack Geoghegan. That I lead into battle. You use me as your instrument in this awful hell of war to watch over them. Especially if they're men like this one beside me, deserving of a future in your blessing and goodwill. Amen.
    Geoghegan: Amen.
    Moore: Oh, yes, and one more thing, dear Lord, about our enemies, ignore their heathen prayers and help us blow those little bastards straight to Hell. Amen.
  • Harry Powell's opening prayer from The Night of the Hunter, which speaks volumes about his character:
    Harry Powell: Well now, what's it to be, Lord? Another widow? How many has it been? Six? Twelve? I disremember. [tipping his hat] You say the word, Lord, I'm on my way... You always send me money to go forth and preach your Word. The widow with a little wad of bills hid away in a sugar bowl. Lord, I am tired. Sometimes I wonder if you really understand. Not that You mind the killin's. Yore Book is full of killin's. But there are things you do hate, Lord: perfume-smellin' things, lacy things, things with curly hair.
  • In Sister Act, the nuns of St. Catherine's Convent have to fly to Las Vegas to save Deloris. When the helicopter pilot refuses to provide his services for free, the nuns pray, loudly, right in front of him and by committee, that God will be kinder to the pilot when he is in need. The pilot gives in.
  • Polish film Dzień Świra (Day of the Wacko) ends with the mock of a massive prayer (based on the popular Polish XVIII-century religious poem, no less) counting various accidents and mishaps praying people want to happen to their neighbours.
  • In Spider-Man 3, after Peter exposes him as a fraud and gets him fired from the Daily Bugle, Eddie Brock goes to church to pray for God to kill Peter. It's quite possible that he spends the rest of the movie thinking that God said yes to this, since immediately afterwards he both learns that Peter is Spider-Man and he becomes the new host of the Venom Symbiote, giving him the tools he needs to exact murderous revenge on Peter himself, though his later proclamation of "I like being bad" might put a damper on that.
  • Lampshaded in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the prayers of Saint Attila in the Book of Armaments about the Holy Hand Grenade says:
    O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.
  • Jonah Hill prays for Jay Baruchel's death in This Is the End and ultimately suffers an attack of Laser-Guided Karma.
  • In Delirious, Eddie Murphy implies that all kids do this every once in a while.
    You'd be mad because your mother hit you. Be standing in your room, wishing some hateful shit on your mother: [weepy voice] 'God — (sniff) — please — (sniff) — kill her! I hope — she gets hit — by a truck and diiiieeeesss. I hate her I hate her I hate her...'
  • In Jennifer's Body, main character Needy arrives too late to save her boyfriend from being murdered by the titular succubus. Right before the battle to come, she says one of the shortest and greatest prayers in all of film:
    ''Saint Jude, Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes, please give me the power to CRUSH THIS BITCH."
  • A humorous example occurs in The Producers between Max Bialystock and his landlord:
    Max: (theatrically, to the heavens) Oh Lord, hear my plea. Destroy him. He maketh a blight on the land!
    Landlord: (also speaking to God) Don't listen to him, he's crazy.
  • The Postman: As the Holnists cry "God rest his soul!" after General Bethlehem for Nathan Holn, whom they view as their founder, Shakespeare mutters instead "May he burn in Hell."
  • In The Purge, as the Sandins' neighbors are about to murder them, they take a moment to say a prayer before doing so: "Blessed be our New Founding Fathers for letting us Purge and cleanse our souls. Blessed be America, a nation reborn."

  • Junie B. Jones: A goofier example occurs in ''Junie B. Jones is (Almost) a Flower Girl" when Junie B., the backup flower girl, wishes on a star for the intended choice to get lice or something else that would allow Junie B. to take her place. Her mother, who overhears, makes her un-wish it.
  • The Pilgrim's Regress: The Northern Dragon, who's so obsessed with guarding his hoard that he rarely sleeps or leaves for a drink, prays for God to give him peace. He clarifies that said peace should take the form of killing any potential gold thieves, rather than anything that might let someone else get the gold.
  • The Prayer of the Ashen Priestess in A Practical Guide to Evil:
“Though their horses and chariots are like a river unto Creation, though their spears be forest and their swords be mountains, the Gods pass judgement unto them. Do not dread, for I bear the word of the Heavens and that word is begone.”
  • This promptly deletes the subjects (who were evil slave-holding warlocks) from Creation.
  • "Holy Willie's Prayer" by Robert Burns has the protagonist pray that God will forgive his sins, then prays that he will punish Willie's enemies for thwarting his desires.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's a fairly sympathetic and understandable example with Arya Stark. Before she goes to sleep, she recites to herself a mantra which lists the names of her enemies, all of whom she plans to kill. At one point, when she has an opportunity to engage in prayer, she recites the same list. She's a very angry ten year old, but you can't really blame her given all she goes through. Eventually she finds herself in service to an assassin cult who worship the God of Death.
    • Her sister Sansa is in the sept praying for her family and friends with many others before the upcoming siege of Kings Landing. When the High Septon starts calling on the gods to protect King Joffrey who executed her father and has her beaten and tormented in petty ways, the normally mild-mannered Sansa walks out, thinking Let his sword break and his shield shatter. Let his courage fail and every man desert him.
  • The War Prayer by Mark Twain. After the congregation of a church prays for victory in a war, an aged stranger enters the church, claiming to be a messenger from God, and recites the unstated portion of their prayer, which calls for suffering upon suffering to be heaped upon their enemy. They conclude that the man was obviously a lunatic, because he made no sense.
  • In the Cambridge Latin Course, one scene shows a thief stealing an offering made to the gods, only to find that it's inscribed with a prayer for the death of all thieves. In terror, he throws his booty back and runs away. (This was actually a common practice in the Roman Empire; people would throw "curse tablets" into holy shrines imploring the gods to visit various misfortunes on those who'd wronged them.)
  • "Prayer of the Selfish Child" by Shel Silverstein, ending:
    And if I die before I wake
    I pray the Lord my toys to break
    So no other kids can use 'em...
  • This is one of the main elements of the plot in Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion. However, as it turns out, successfully praying for someone else's death will except in very unusual circumstances kill you too, and the gods will only answer your prayer if the person whose death you want actually deserves it.
  • In Speaker for the Dead, Ender says Quim prays every day for him to die.
  • In Njal's Saga, set shortly after the conversion of Iceland to Christianity and before that whole "turn the other cheek" thing had really hit home, a blind man prays to the Christian God to be given sight for a short time so that he can kill one of the men who killed his father, grandparents, and other relatives. He is, and he promptly smashes the guy's head in with an axe.
  • It Can't Happen Here: Before being executed at Trianon, Falck cries out a vengeful prayer against his oppressors.
    "Father, Thou hast forgiven so long! Forgive them not but curse them, for they know what they do!"
  • In Philip Kerr's novel Prayer, FBI agent Gill Martin comes up against the Church of Izrael, led by the seemingly genuine Pastor Nelson van der Velden. He soon realises the odd spelling of "Izrael" is no error or eccentricity. Van der Velden spent time in Israel learning the inner secrets of Kabbalah. These include how to actively pray for the death of dirty godless liberals, atheists, socialists and advocates of sexual deviancy, so as to bring about God's will for the USA — a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. Led by President van der Velden.
  • At the beginning of The Iliad, Achilles quits the war out of spite after his war-wife is claimed by Agamemnon. To make sure he'll get his honor back, Achilles prays to his mother Thetis, a River Goddess, to have Zeus make the Greeks lose the conflict so they'll eventually come running and begging him to save them. This winds up kicking off the plot of the poem.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In Dog Days, Greg prays for Mr Jefferson to get hit on the head so he forgets about the money that he and Rowley owe him.
  • Thud!: This is revealed as the true method of calling upon the pan dimensional spirit of vengeance that is the Summoning Dark.
    Carrot: Just the drawing wouldn’t be enough, anyway. You have to want it to happen with your very last breath.
  • Michael Moore's Stupid White Men exaggerates this in "A Prayer to Afflict the Comfortable". Notable examples include having every member of the House of Representatives to get incurable cancers and the Corrupt Corporate Executives be rendered poor and homeless.
  • Averted in The Hunt for Red October , when Jack thinks asking for divine help killing The Mole attempting to sabotage a nuclear missile would sound absurd.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In a family-friendly example from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody episode "Volley Dad," one of the nuns in Maddie's Catholic school prays that their volley ball team will viciously crush the opposing team.
    Nun: Okay, we are gonna stomp these losers right into the ground! Let us pray. Lord, please help us stomp these losers into the ground. Amen.
  • Back when Stephen and Steven were still on The Daily Show, an "Even Stevens" segment had them debating whether Islam or Christianity was the one true religion. Needless to say, prayers of "Smite mine enemy" were evoked on both sides.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Catelyn Stark admits that she once prayed to the gods for her husband Ned's illegitimate son Jon to die when Ned brought him home as a baby because he was Ned's son by an unknown mother, a woman Catelyn was jealous of. She hates herself for being horrible enough to condemn an innocent child. When Jon does get ill with the pox as a young child, Catelyn makes a Bargain with Heaven and prays for Jon's life, promising that she'll love him as her own if the gods will just let him live, and stays by his bedside until he recovers. However, she is is unable to keep her side of the bargain and thinks that all of the misery she and those close to her suffer throughout the series (it's a lot) is divine punishment from the gods for her inability to keep her promise.
    • Before she goes to sleep, Arya recites the names of those who have wronged her and her family — all of whom she plans to kill.
  • Top Gear: As Hammond and May are loading May's car on a raft to cross an African river, Vitriolic Best Bud Clarkson stands on the other side and prays. "Dear God, make it tip upside-down..."
  • In Justified, this overlaps with Prayer Is a Last Resort in "Over the Mountain". An injured and lost Dewey Crowe is desperate to locate Wade Messer so that he can murder him. Dewey prays a ridiculous prayer to God, begging the Almighty to help him locate and murder Wade.
    Dewey: God I ain't prayed in a while, I ain't fixin' to die out here in the woods like some animal, you hear me? That's bullshit. Jesus, if you help me find him, once I kill him, I swear, I'll straighten up, I'll go to church, Sunday school, whatever you want, but goddamnit, I gotta get this thing done, you understand? I ain't never asked you for shit, least you could do.
  • Preacher (2016): In a flashback, the child Jesse Custer prays to God that his father dies, in a moment of rage after his father had his best friend Tulip sent to a childrens' home. His prayer gets answered.
  • In The Chicago Code, lapsed Catholic cop Jarek Wysaki is encouraged by a nun to pray about his worries. He responds by praying that God will give him a steady aim to kill his brother's murderer.
  • Al Bundy on Married... with Children often asked God to smite someone annoying him (usually Peg) or at least put him out of his misery.
    Al: I have just one more request. It involves a lightning bolt and...[Surreptitiously points at Peg]
  • M*A*S*H: The episode Life Time has a Downplayed example where the intent of the prayer is more about Balancing Death's Books than malice. The Patient of the Week will die without an aorta transplant. Upon learning that a freshly arrived patient is both inoperably wounded and a compatible donor, but may linger until it's too late, a tear-stricken Father Mulcahy beseeches God to hurry up and take the boy who can't be saved so that the doctors can save the other one.
  • In season 14 of Supernatural, Nick, the man who was once used as an unwitting host by Lucifer himself, goes off the deep end in pursuit of the demon who killed his family. After killing the man who was also used as a host by the demon in question, Abraxas, he prays for salvation. However, it turns out he's praying not to God, but Lucifer.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: June prays desperately for Natalie and her baby to die so she can be free of her forced penance with them, which has caused her severe torment.
  • In Rome: we have the character Servilia pray to the gods of the Underworld, trying to curse her nemesis Atia for all the misery Atia has wrought on her life:
    Servilia: By the spirits of my ancestors I curse Atia of the Julii. Let dogs rape her. Let her children die and her houses burn. Let her live a long life of bitter misery and shame. Gods of the Inferno, I offer you her limbs, her head, her mouth, her breath, her speech, her heart, her liver, her stomach. Gods of the Inferno, let me see her suffer deeply, and I will rejoice and sacrifice to you.''
    • Truth in Television this was not an uncommon practice for Republican Romans, particularly in the nobility. That said, curses had to be sealed with an animal sacrifice, which is not something the viewer sees on-screen in this case.
  • Criminal Minds: One episode features the matriarch of one half of a family feud saying her nightly prayers. She starts out by saying that she believes in the God of Mercy, but that's not who she needs right now, then addresses the God of Vengeance and asks him to stop whoever is killing her family. Her prayer is interrupted when she hears the killer breaking into her house. She thanks God when she realizes this and grabs her shotgun to carry out vengeance herself. It... doesn't work.

  • The song "Prayer to God" by Shellac, about a man praying fervently for his ex-girlfriend and her lover to die.
  • "I Pray for You" by Jaron and the Long Road to Love. The whole song is basically this.
  • "Catherine" by PJ Harvey from Is This Desire? is about a woman fervently praying for the titular Catherine's death and damnation.

  • Played for Laughs with the tongue-in-cheek Irish Catholic toast/blessing/prayer: "May those who love us, love us; and those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping.
  • Older Than Feudalism: There are several examples in The Bible:
    • There are several passages in the Book of Psalms where the psalmist asks God to kill or punish evildoers, especially those who make a point of dishonoring Him. These are called the Imprecatory Psalms.
    • In an infamous story in the Books of Kings, Elisha curses a group of bullies, after which two bears come out of the forest and maul them.
    • David also does this during wartime right after begging him to forgive his deed, wishing God would destroy his enemies and punish the evil.
  • Ancient Roman curse tablets were essentially this combined with Ritual Magic. They were small lead tablets buried in swamps or graveyards, inscribed with players to Pluto, Proserpina and other gods of the Underworld to punish the victim of the curse for their various crimes (real or imagined).
  • In The Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer's wife, Ima Shalom, has to stop him from doing this every day after he is excommunicated. Unfortunately, one day she forgets...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: As the leader of the theocratical white Phyrexian faction, Elesh Norn delivers sermons like "May our blessings sever the tongues of the forsaken."
    • Although, considering their civilisation bases itself on Body Horror as the concept of perfection, it is just as likely that this is a well intentioned prayer.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Pretty much every prayer is this, given the setting. Prayers to Khorne usually consist of finding more blood-filled things to kill, prayers to the Emperor of killing the enemy dead.
    That thou wouldst bring them only death,
    That thou shouldst spare none,
    That thou shouldst pardon none
    We beseech thee, destroy them.
    From the Fede Imperialis, also known as the Battle Prayer of the Adepta Sororitas.
    • Appropriately, as the Chaos god Malal is also called Malice, one can literally make a prayer of Malice.

    Video Games 
  • The 2013 Scream Fortress update for Team Fortress 2 has this exchange from the recently deceased, quarrelsome Mann brothers.
    Blutarch: Dear Lord, this is Blutarch Mann speaking!
    Redmond: And Redmond!
    Blutarch: Shut up Redmond, I'm praying! Lord, please send my brother to Hell, Amen.
    Redmond: Lord, wait! Whatever he's praying to you for, I'll double it!
    Blutarch: NO!
    Redmond: *Cackling* I win at praying brother!
  • It is entirely possible in Nexus Clash for an angelic Shepherd to pray to the holy Powers of Good that their next blows in battle will smack whatever evildoers they're fighting extra hard. And that prayer is granted, without fail, every single time.


  • In RPC Authority the Church of Malthus finish the malthusian manifesto by a prayer of malice to the authority:
    WE hereby pray that no god have mercy upon them, for they merit none.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In "Road to Europe", Brian and Stewie accidentally embarrass the Pope, who gets mad and commands God to "smite them!". Nothing happens, but he warns them that "He's a cooking up something!"
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one of the episodes where Sideshow Bob's after Bart, Bart prays to God to kill him.
      Bart: ...and please, God, kill Sideshow Bob!
      Marge: Bart, no! You can't ask God to kill someone!
      Homer: Yeah! You do your own dirty work!
    • In "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade," Bart and Lisa are lost in the woods outside Capital City and find themselves threatened at gunpoint by hillbillies.
      Hillbilly: Say Your Prayers!
    • In "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed," the family visits the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, where Homer strangles Bart for finding his Silly Prayer and reading it out loud (it was for Marge not to discover that their hotel leaves chocolate on the pillows). While still being throttled, Bart hastily scrawls his own petition and puts it in the wall, to which Homer drops him to read it:
      Homer: "...Give my dad another heart attack?!" (resumes strangling)
    • In "Left Behind," Homer gets an out-of-work Ned Flanders hired to the power plant's HR department, only for Ned to cramp his style so much that he impulsively prays for him to be fired. He's then burdened by immense guilt when that very thing happens.
  • A Beavis and Butt-Head Christmas episode opens with the supporting cast all praying to God to make Beavis and Butt-Head go away. Probably the least subtle is Principle McVicker's. "God, I've never asked you for much...but please...KILL THEM! Kill Beavis and Butt-Head!"
  • In one short on Animaniacs, Flaxseed, the Jerkass owner of a candy store, very aggressively refuses to donate any candy to an orphanage run by nuns. After getting the runaround by the Warner siblings, he grabs hold of Wakko and Dot just in time for the head nun (who is NOT happy seeing him manhandle children) to show up with reinforcements. The nuns are about to beat the crap out of Flaxseed when he reminds them nuns, as religious figures, aren't supposed to be violent. They therefore stop and pray, at which point a bus containing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team turns up, and they beat the crap out of him.
    Head Nun: Our prayers have been answered!
  • Happens in the first episode of The Cleveland Show when devout Christian Tim the Bear gets frustrated that Cleveland is outperforming him at their job, to the point that he wishes that "something bad happens to Cleveland" in a moment of anger, and is immensly guilt-ridden when it seemingly comes true. Cleveland gets caught DUI and crashing a company truck (actually taking the fall for Terry to keep him from going to jail), and a guilt-ridden Tim confesses to him. Cleveland's response?
    Cleveland: Tim, you are dumb. Out of pity, I'll accept your apology.
  • Disenchantment: In "Tiabeanie Falls", when Bean, Elfo and Luci are to be burnt at the stake, the Arch-Druidess asks everyone to join her in praying they go to Hell. Elfo tries pointing out this isn't how a prayer is meant to work, and is told to shut up.


Video Example(s):


Sister Act- Pilot Prayer

These nuns are **absolutely not** employing this trope against this pilot.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PrayerOfMalice

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