A couple of weeks ago my wife and I saw “War Room.” It is a fantastic movie. I have seen previous movies by the Kendrick brothers (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous) and this is perhaps the best. Below is a brief summary of the movie as well as some reflections on the movie based on the Bible.
I. SUMMARY OF THE MOVIE
The movie, “War Room” is based on the prayer and life of an elderly African-American woman, Mrs. Williams. The movie revolves around what Mrs. Williams called her “War Room.” That war room was her prayer room in her home. The war room was a closet within an unoccupied room, it had a chair, prayers taped to the wall, Scriptures taped to the wall, a lamp, and a Bible.
In the movie Mrs. Williams began to mentor a younger woman, Elizabeth Jordan. While Mrs. Williams had her own method of prayer it took Elizabeth Jordan a little while to discover what environment would work best for her war room. When going into her closet she tried to pray but quickly realized that she was distracted by her shoes, clothes, and food she had brought with her. She tried to sit in her closet on the floor, she tried sitting in a chair, she tried a bean bag, and she tried eating food. Finally she found that for her to have a good environment to pray in she had to remove everything from her closet in order to prevent distractions. Once Elizabeth had created a good environment for her prayer time the forms of her prayers looked different. Sometimes she wrote Scripture in order to pray, sometimes she wrote out prayers, and sometimes she wrote those prayers on paper that could be posted onto the wall.
Two other prominent characters in the movie are Tony Jordan (Elizabeth’s husband) and Danielle Jordan (Tony and Elizabeth’s daughter). After Elizabeth figured out her prayer routine and environment Tony and Danielle also began to cultivate their own prayer lives.
II. BIBLICAL PRAYER AND “WAR ROOM”[ref]When surveying the Bible sometimes we see what might be called “Major Prayers” that we long, intense, and well known by Christians. Some of these prayers are Nehemiah’s prayer (Neh 1:5-11), David’s prayer of thanksgiving (2 Sam 7:18-29), and Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple (1 Kings 8:23-53). Some prayers we might called “Minor Prayers,” which are smaller and lesser known prayers but are still as authentic and genuine. These are Abraham’s servant praying to find a wife for Isaac (Gen 24:12-14), Daniel’s prayer to the Lord after learning Jerusalem must lie desolate for 70 years (Dan 9:4-19), Habakkuk’s prayer in awe of God (Hab 3:2-19), and Jesus’ prayer of Thanksgiving (Matt 11:25-27).[/ref]
A. Jonah 2:2-9
After Jonah’s disobedience (Jonah 1:3) God sent a fish to swallow Jonah (1:17) and Jonah remained inside the fish for three days and three nights (1:17). While inside the fish, Jonah turned back to God. Jonah cried out to the Lord in his trouble (2:2), vowed that he would look once more to God’s holy temple (2:4), that he would offer sacrifices to the Lord with songs of praise (2:9), and that he would fulfill his vows to God (2:9). Chapters one and two of the book of Jonah feature disobedience, a negative consequence, and then returning back to the Lord. That pattern is Jonah’s story, but it is also the story of Tony Jordan in “War Room.” After being the top salesman for his pharmaceutical company Tony was fired because he was illegally altering inventory stock piles. Before being fired Tony was focused, driven, confident, and felt capable of whatever arose in life. After being fired, he turned to God because he felt he could not handle all of the pressures of life. I cannot remember the exact words of Tony’s prayer to God when he first turned back to God, but the words were similar to Jonah’s payer in 2:2-9 in which he told God that he had done wrong, that he wanted to live with God ruling his life, and that he would be obedient to God.
B. Romans 12:12[ref]The book of Acts reveals how the first century church believers relied on prayer. The apostles “were constantly united in prayer” (1:14). All the believers devoted themselves “to prayer” (2:42). Peter and John went to the “three o’clock prayer service” (3:1). The believers lifted their voices “in prayer to God” (4:24). After the “prayer” (4:31) the meeting place shook. The apostles spent their time in “prayer” (6:4). Cornelius’ “prayer” was heard (10:31). In the home of Mary many were gathered in “prayer” (12:12). After “prayer” (13:3) the men laid hands on them. Paul and Barnabas with “prayer” turned over the care of the elders to the Lord. Outside the city people were “meeting for prayer” (16:13). Luke and his companions were “going down to the place of prayer (16:16).[/ref]
Near the end of Paul’s long letter to the Romans, Paul told the believers, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (Rom 12:12, NLT, emphasis mine). The idea of “keep on praying” definitely was a theme in War Room. While Mrs. Williams asked Elizabeth to pray for one hour a week, I got the feeling that prayer was an essential part of every moment of those ladies lives. Furthermore, the movie covered several weeks if not months of time where Elizabeth kept on praying for the same things, therefore showing that she was persistent with her prayers just as Paul commanded in Rom 12:12.
C. Ephesians 1:18-20
The content of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians tells us how we can pray for others. “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in him. This is the same mighty power that raised him from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph 1:18-20). Watching the War Room causes me to realize that this prayer the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago has been answered. It has not been answered for all people, but the cast in “War Room” truly had their hearts flooded with light (v. 18), they had a confident hope (v. 18), and they understood the greatness of God’s power (v. 19). Mrs. Williams, Elizabeth, and Tony all knew about the miraculous power that came from God and they called on that power to direct their lives.
D. Ephesians 3:16
Another of Paul’s prayers was also answered in the War Room. In Ephesians 3:16 Paul prayed, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” The War Room movie clearly showed that believers were empowered with inner strength from God’s Holy Spirit. Whether it was Mrs. Williams refusing to give her money to a mugger because of her belief in “Jesus name” or the belief that Elizabeth and Tony would be able to make it through life after he lost his job, the movie clearly shows that the Holy Spirit empowers believers to handle the difficult things they go through. Furthermore, I believe that the Holy Spirit works so strongly in the lives of believers who have active prayer lives, as we saw later in the movie with Elizabeth and Tony. When we take time to consciously pray, seek God’s will, and follow him, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and direct our lives. That leading is what allows us to handle the difficult things that come our way because we have “inner strength through his Spirit” (Eph 3:16).
E. Philippians 4:6
Paul’s command in Philippians 4:6 is perhaps the most clear and direct instruction for believers about prayer. Paul wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all that he has done” (Phil 4:6). The idea of not worrying about anything is difficult for every person. Even in “War Room” the characters worried at times. But, when they began to pray about the things they were worrying about their worry subsided. The characters simply told God what they needed and thanked God for what he had already done, just as Paul tells us to do in Phil 4:6. Telling God what we need and thanking him for all that he has already done is a simple yet powerful prayer. We know that God is in control and that he might not answer our prayers, but praising him for what he has already done while also sharing what we think we need is a honorable way to pray to the Most High and Powerful One! Paul told the Philippian that after telling God their needs and thanking him for what he had done believers they would “experience God’s peace” which would “guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (4:17). Living in peace is what the characters of “War Room” experienced.[ref]Rom 12:12; Eph 1:18-20; 3:6; and Phil 4:6 are among many descriptions and prescriptions provided in the New Testament letters. Some examples are that Paul and his companions “pray” that the recipients of their letter would become mature (2 Cor 13:9). As Paul and his companions prayed to the Father about the Thessalonians, they thought of their “faithful work . . . loving deeds, and the enduring hope” based on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 1:3). Later in that same letter Paul told the Thessalonians, “Never stop praying” (1 Thess 5:17). Paul and his companions said that they “keep on praying” for the Thessalonian believers (2 Thess 1:11). In every place of worship Paul wanted “men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy” (1 Tim 2:8). James told believers that if they were suffering hardship, “You should pray” (James 5:13). Later, James told believers to confess sins to each other and “pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Finally, Jude wrote that believers should “pray in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).[/ref]
The movie “War Room” is the powerful story of a family that experiences tough times but uses God’s power of prayer to get through those tough times. Through the wisdom of Mrs. Williams, Elizabeth Jordan began praying for her husband and her family. The result of that prayer was that Elizabeth stopped fighting with her husband and instead she started fighting for her husband. As Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Therefore we should “pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Eph 6:18). That is exactly what Elizabeth did. As a result, God used those prayers to change Elizabeth’s heart toward her husband, change her attitude toward her daughter, and ultimately that changed each of their lives. The “War Room” makes it clear that prayer can have a powerful role in the life of believers if they take the time to do it.