War Room & Prayer

A review of the movie and a discussion on prayer.

Introduction

The first time I saw the trailer for War Room, I was excited and planned to go see it. I even marked it on my calendar. Yet, like with most movies, I never made it to the theater. This weekend, I finally got to see the movie on iTunes. I liked it, but I didn't like it, but… I came away from the movie with mixed emotions and I wanted to share them.
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The Good

Photocredit: Movie Poster
One of the things that piqued my interest was the plausibility of a good, wholesome movie. Hollywood is seriously lacking in the realm of good and wholesome, especially where minority characters are concerned. A story about a well off, Black family where both parents are present, there isn't a gang or addiction problem, both people have an honest job, and the story is God-centered—it seemed like too much to ask, and yet all of this is present in War Room. Writers veered from stereotypes to have the daughter interested in double dutch (which I guess is still a "Black" thing, but it's better than putting her on a sports team), made the father a pharmaceutical rep, and the mother a real estate agent. Did I mention both the daughter and the mother have a head full of beautiful natural hair?

Of course, these little tidbits make me happy as a Black woman. I was/am happy to see a positive and realistic depiction of a Black family, but the center of the story is God. Almost every scene brings up the name of God or Jesus, and the old woman who introduces the main character to the idea of a prayer closest reminds me of my Bible school teachers. She also reminded me of a grandmother. I loved the dynamic between the two women, and the fire for God that was apparent in the old woman. It was obvious that they wanted to inspire people to reclaim their lives through prayer.
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Mixed Feelings

So why do I have mixed feelings? Putting aside the fact that the first half of the movie is preachy and the rate at which the husband and wife patch up their issues seems a bit unrealistic, I felt some type of way about the message. The message, a message many of us often get from the church, is that we should pray for what we want and God will give it to us. As a child, this prompted me to pray that the world would never end. I had no idea that in doing so, I was simultaneously praying for God to be a liar (after all He said the world would end) and praying that no one would ever go to Heaven (Revelation tells us the dead are not raised to enter Heaven until His return). I was praying for something I had no business praying for, and while I might not be alive to witness the end, the end will come. As I grew older and realized the error of such a prayer, I began to take from sermons and movies like War Room the message that we should pray with purpose. This is a catch phrase among many Christians today: "pray with purpose."
6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:6-13 KJV
The type of praying exhibited in War Room is exactly the opposite of how Jesus tells us to pray, despite them quoting and basing the movie off of Matthew 6:6. He doesn't say pray about what you need and God will fix it, He says God already knows what we need.

Think of all the prayers and conversations between God and man, how do they play out? Jacob tells God if He makes it so that Jacob prospers, he will follow Him—Jacob does prosper, but he also gets cheated and ends up working 14 years for the woman he loved. Most of Moses' request to God are to forgive the Israelites for a sin they've committed, but he also asks God to provide a few things. First, Moses doubts God's command because he believes himself a poor orator and asks for someone else to bear that burden. God is not happy about this request. Then he and the Israelites ask for water and food—they even complain about the food provided. God is irritated by their lack of faith in Him. Yet, we always seem to do this, myself included. I don't know how many times I've prayed to graduate. God knows I want to graduate, He brought me to graduate school, so He'll get me across the stage! I don't need to ask Him about it daily, or weekly, or even monthly.

Jesus told us God already knows what we want, yet every pastor, minister, or preacher I've met has said we should pray often. They describe prayer the way it is depicted in War Room: purposeful, deliberate, and powerful. They would have you sit it your closest and talk to God all night, even though Jesus' model prayer is very short. While I think prayer is important and I love that movie talks about making God central to our life, it focuses on the fact that many times we're fighting the wrong battle, but it doesn't really touch on our real problem. We spend a whole lot of time talking to God but very little time listening to God. Don't you find it ironic that God already knows everything about us, yet in the movie the lady suggests praying (i.e. voicing your feelings/concerns/etc.) for an hour, but she never says read the Bible for an hour... We're the ones who need to be spoken to, but we don't always recognize His voice because we don't always study His Word.

Some may disagree with me, but I think it is immensely more valuable to listen to God than to layout your entire life in prayer. At least once a day, sometimes twice a day, I grab my Bible, pray for understanding and simply read. Every time I find an answer to a question. Sometimes it's a question I had a long time ago and other times it's a question I had just the night before. He knows what I need now and He knew what I would need before I was born, so He had His people write it all down for me to discover. When I submit to Him and simply say "show me", He sends His spirit to find the exact passage I need and I hear His voice.
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Conclusions

So go watch War Room, enjoy the movie, reflect on how God currently fits in your life versus how he does, and pray, but don't forget to listen. Take out your Bible and let Him speak to you too.
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References

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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