Mark Wahlberg Encourages Millions to ‘Stay Prayed Up’

During the Super Bowl this past weekend, millions of Americans were able to pause from the craziness of the game and pray.

In an ad for the Catholic prayer app Hallow—founded by University of Notre Dame alumni Alex Jones, Erich Kerekes, and Allesandro DiSanto—Catholic actor and businessman Mark Wahlberg led us in prayer: “God, we take this moment just to give you thanks. We thank you for this time to come together as a family, as friends, and as a country. Help us, Lord, especially this Lent, to grow closer to You.”

He finished with his signature line, “Stay prayed up.”

We need reminders like this ad, even if we don’t download Hallow or pray with its spokespeople. And we need phrases like Stay prayed up because they stick in our minds. I dare say they even make us smile.

Cofounder Alex Jones said that when he and his team were thinking about what to do for the Super Bowl ad, they thought, “Why don’t we just take 30 seconds to pray together, give thanks to God for this opportunity. . . . It’s the Lord’s Day, it’s Sunday, so it feels fitting.” 

And that is what they did.

Prayer is now an integral part of Jones’ life, but that hasn’t always been the case. According to the University of Notre Dame IDEA Center, Jones “launched Hallow in 2018 as a result of his own pursuit of faith through prayer.” In an interview with the IDEA Center, Jones admitted that his “college years were a relatively dark and empty time” because he had begun to fall away from Catholicism. After graduation, he spoke with a priest at Notre Dame who helped him understand the power of prayer. Jones began to see the importance of his faith and broke down in tears while meditating on scripture. He stated, “The passage was about Jesus teaching the Lord’s prayer. The word ‘hallow,’ to make holy, stuck in my mind. It gave me a deep sense of peace—and changed my life.”

Hallow is now one of the top Catholics apps and in May of 2023 “had the honor of becoming the first faith-based app to ever make the list of Top 10 apps in the App Store.”

It’s fitting that this prayer ad occurred during a Super Bowl where a prominent Catholic played such an integral role. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker kicked the tying field goal to send the game into overtime, which eventually led to his team’s win.

Butker unapologetically puts his faith first in his life. During a talk a few years ago, he said, “Outside of the bright lights of the stadium, with the fans and the notoriety that come with being an NFL player, the greatest impact that I will make with my time on this earth is remaining dedicated to my primary vocation—helping my family get to heaven.”

Wahlberg agrees, as he too is unapologetically Catholic. Before Lent last year, he acknowledged that his faith is “not popular” in Hollywood but said he could never deny it because that would be “an even bigger sin.” When asked what his faith means to him, Wahlberg said “it’s everything.”

Our faith should be our everything, and we need only look at the crucifix to see God’s love for us.

During the football game we paused to pray. Let that be the start of many prayers this Lent.

Pray for those suffering from violence, from fear, and from ignorance. Pray for wayward leaders to once again become strong and moral. Pray for moms contemplating abortion. Pray for the sanctity of life. Pray for those who have lost their faith and those who are lukewarm. Pray for the young, who have not yet realized that God should be their everything. Pray for the old and the sick, who feel they have lost everything and cannot yet see that God is there with them. And pray for those who mock people of faith and for moral courage for those who are mocked.

Butker once told a group, “Now is the time for you to take up your task . . . to bring Christ back to our daily lives.”

We can only do that through prayer.

As we enter Lent, let us build a culture of life by heeding the words of both Butker and Wahlberg. Let us welcome Christ back into our lives and stay prayed up so that the habits we form this Lent become a part of our daily lives as we—and our families—journey toward eternity in heaven.

This article first appeared in the Catholic World Report at catholicworldreport.com/2024/02/12/mark-wahlberg-encourages-millions-to-stay-prayed-up.

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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.