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War Room a Call to Prayer and Purpose

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - ATLANTA -- But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. – Matthew 6:6

These words, as set forth by Jesus Christ, seem to be practical advice for all who seek Him.  The reality is that God has given us a tremendous opportunity to communicate with Him one on one, anytime, anyplace. 

Yet, for so many, prayer is often a rote practice of reciting repetitive sayings and phrases that are intended for God. People see prayer as a last resort as in ‘Well, all we can do now is pray.” 

Sadly, the excuses are endless. So much so, that scores of faith-inspired believers in Christ find themselves in a ho-hum conundrum when it comes to prayer.

“I don’t have time for this.”

“I feel uncomfortable doing it.”

“I don’t like to humble myself.”

“I don’t like being honest about something I know is a sin.”

“I can’t hear or see God right now.”

“I’m starting to think that prayer needs to be the steering wheel of what we do in life, not the spare tire that you pull out in an emergency or crisis,” explains Alex Kendrick, director of such faith-based movies as Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants.

Kendrick is so burdened by this that he and his brother Stephen Kendrick have based their entire forthcoming movie, War Room, on the concept of being highly intentional in our prayers.

“People of God need to be serious about their time in prayer, not just for themselves but the time of convenient, comfortable praying is over,” Alex Kendrick explains.  “We’ve got to return to the Lord with passion, desperation, and return to making prayer a priority, thereby making God a priority.”

War Room, opening in theaters nationwide this Friday, explores the transformational role prayer plays in the lives of the Jordan family.  In the film, Elizabeth Jordan’s (Priscilla Shirer) marriage has become a war zone with their daughter trapped in the middle.  With the help of Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), who is an older, wiser woman, Elizabeth discovers she can start fighting for her family in prayer instead of against them.

“Prayer is the key that God has given us to unlock the door of His power being experienced on earth,” says Shirer, a nationally-known Bible teacher who makes her acting debut in War Room.  “So, if you don’t use the key you can’t expect the door to be unlocked and then blame God for not moving in your life.  I’m hoping this movie will remind people that they have a key and the key works.”

The Kendrick brothers believe the key to a successful prayer life is strategic.  They liken it to fighting spiritual warfare with a plan.  To make this concept crystal-clear the movie’s opening frames focus on a Vietnam-era strategic planning session complete with a look at what the enemy is doing and the resources needed to combat that.

“As Christians, we need to go into our own place, our own war room if you will, and seek the Lord,” Alex Kendrick points out.  “I find it interesting that most of us have something of a financial strategy.  We have something of an education strategy for our children.  We have something of a health strategy.  But when I specifically ask Christians what their prayer strategy is, most people give me a blank look.”

“Specifically, this movie is a call to prayer,” adds Stephen Kendrick.  “It is a call to prayer for families to begin to seek the Lord in prayer and for churches to start praying for their pastors.  And then for our cities.  When churches start working together God gives you a love for people when you start praying for them.  It’s a beautiful thing when we get together and we start praying for one another’s needs.”

In a highly tangible example of this, the Kendricks made a bold decision following the release of their last movie Courageous in 2011.  After spending a great deal of time in concerted prayer, petitioning God for their next project, they felt that God was releasing them from their home church, Sherwood Baptist, that had served as a catalyst in making their first four movies.  Subsequently, War Room was filmed in the Charlotte, North Carolina area with assistance from 65 local churches.

“I look back with gratefulness for God’s faithfulness in the past,” says Stephen Kendrick.  “We have consistently seen that when we seek Him in prayer, we commit a project to Him, that He orders our steps and blesses those plans.  With every movie so far that we have made, we have seen the Lord’s handiwork and His fingerprints.”

As they settled into the Charlotte area to begin filming last summer, the Kendricks were immediately presented with two rather daunting challenges.  First, they didn’t have anyone to play the role of Miss Clara, a part considered to be the most vital in the movie.  And second, they had no location to serve as Miss Clara’s house. 

“We were two weeks from starting production, everything was moving forward, and these were two critical points of the first week of shooting,” Stephen Kendrick remembers.  “We were praying about this as we walked down a street.  We walked around a corner and there was a house for sale that was the right year, the model, the right look, and a man standing outside who just happened to be the owner of the house.  The man, who was a pastor, had been trying to sell it but agreed to let us use it for the duration of shooting.  Truly, an answer to prayer.”

As for Miss Clara, Karen Abercrombie, a movie actress who had recently moved back to the Charlotte area for family reasons just happened to be attending one of the 65 area churches who were involved in the production.  Another answer to prayer!

With War Room set to release on more than 1,000 screens, it seems to be making its way into theaters at just the right time following a series of recent controversial Supreme Court rulings, sexuality issues in the news, and more than two years of increasing racial tension across the United States.

“As a nation, we are such need right now,” says Abercrombie.  “The world is out of control, now, more than it ever has been.  “The Church seems to have gotten sleepy and comfortable.  “We need to pray for the state of the world, for the state of the Church.  We can’t be lukewarm anymore.”

“Jesus said, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’” echoes Shirer.  “So, if we get back to those basics there is no telling what kind of revival is going to break out, not only in our churches but in our families and personal lives as well.”

War Room opens in theaters nationwide this weekend. Check your local listings to find a theater near you.

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