Actor Zac Efron may be most known for his role starring in High School Musical, Baywatch, and various other roles in his Hollywood career but his latest work explores ways to live healthier and more sustainable which leads him to a prayer meeting in France.
In Down to Earth, a documentary-style series for Netflix, Efron along with Darin Olien explore various aspects of nature, water, land, and natural resources in an engaging look at ways to live better. That journey took them to Lourdes, France where they explored a place where 4-6 million people a year come for prayer and healing – The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
It was here a natural water spring was discovered by a 14-year-old girl who said the Virgin Mary appeared to her and showed her a natural spring under the ground. She dug and dug until she discovered it and since 1858 when this occurred, the church and place of prayer have been a place of healing and hope.
This hope includes 70 documented miracles, investigated and verified by a resident physician and substantiated by the bishop as a miracle. In the episode, Efron interviews the resident physician who pulls out a case of spontaneous cancer regression and pronounced a miracle years later when the healing was sustained over a course of time. All miracles are investigated, tested, and brought through a 6 step verification process by the doctor. When science can not explain the healing or cure, it is passed on to the bishop for review and pronouncement of a verified miracle.
During their visit, Efron and Olien then speak with Father Jim Phalan who shares the history and symbolic elements that foster an atmosphere of prayer.
“There is something that happens inside,” Father Jim explains when discussing the thousands of visitors who come for prayer.
“There is no denying the sacred feeling you get just by being here,” Efron is heard narrating as they explore the church and participate in prayer, candle lighting, and community.
“When people walk away from this experience…there is a change,” Efron narrates suggesting a growing faith.
Efron shares his experience in the episode and the feeling and peace he feels as he prays and participates.
“Prayer can mean different things to different people,” he shares. “What I’ve found is taking the time to ask can give a sense of peace. Taking the time to ask can be comforting in and of itself,” Efron relates his own experience in prayer and asking God for help.
While he doesn’t profess to pray to Jesus or trust Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Efron does appear open to God and genuinely seeks to understand faith. Though Efron does exalt the feeling of peace as the most important part of prayer and does not point people to Jesus, he seems to be getting closer to finding Christ.
“My thoughts are almost in a pure meditative state and I feel like I am a part of something much greater than myself.”
Towards the end of the episode, Efron concludes that he does believe in the power of people coming together in prayer at the evening torchlight prayer.
“I definitely believe there is some kind of power in group prayer, all these people coming together in prayer, creating one massive force. Does it work? I don’t know, but you can’t deny the extraordinary peace and beauty that is going on right here.”
Photo:HOLLYWOOD, CA – AUGUST 20, 2015: Zac Efron at the Los Angeles premiere of ‘We Are Your Friends’ held at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, USA on August 20, 2015.