LESSONS LEARNED FROM WATCHING THE MOVIE “WAR ROOM”
We recently showed “War Room” on a Wednesday night to encourage our prayer ministry. Though I’ve watched it before I found it even more helpful this time. I thought I would share 12 truths that hit home from the movie.
If you haven’t seen the movie it centers around a woman named Elizabeth Jordan, her husband Tony, and daughter Danielle. Elizabeth is at her wits end in her marriage. Her husband is harsh, verbally abusive, and emotionally absent from the family. Things go from bad to worse as he moves towards having an affair with a woman at work, while at the same time embezzling money at work.
Just as Elizabeth is at the point of divorce and giving up, she meets an elderly prayer warrior named Miss Clara who has prayed for her next assignment. Clara takes Elizabeth under her wing and teaches her a new way to fight her battles through prayer. This not only has a powerful impact on her marriage but is passed on to her young daughter, Danielle as she establishes her own war room and prayer list.
SOME KEY LESSONS I WAS REMINDED OF:
1. Everybody knows how to fight with their family; few people know how to fight for their family in prayer. In Ephesians 6:10-13, we learn the real battle for our home and life is not fought with people but spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. We need to put on the whole armor of God which involves a personal application of all that Jesus did for us on the cross. While we stand on the ground Jesus won, we fight by praying and especially using God’s Word in prayer.
2. My brother (or sister, husband, wife) is not my real enemy even when they act like it. The movie so graphically showed how we spiral into the habit of reacting over the same issues in the same way over and over in our homes, digging ourselves deeper and deeper in a hole of strife and division. Prayer is the way we move from a reactive mode to a proactive role by inviting God into places of frustration and asking Him for His will and wisdom in how to respond.
3. Prayer and praise can change the atmosphere in our home and anywhere else. Over the course of Elizabeth setting in place a discipline of prayer, marching around issues in prayer and praise the way Joshua marched around Jericho, the harshness and anger in the home dissipates. The high praises of God do in our homes what they did in Paul’s prison cell: they cause chains to fall off and doors to open. A huge part to praise is that it is an avenue of exercising faith. When we praise God, we are declaring that He is bigger than our circumstances and that what He says will be the last word on my situation not what people do or what I see. Praise is a way of doing what was suggested. When the devil or someone throws a boomerang at us, we duck in praise and prayer so that what was meant for evil simply returns to whomever threw it at us to deal with it. We said about our circumstances, “You don’t see things get better and then know the battle is won; when you know the battle is already won by Jesus and declare it, you see the circumstances get better. It’s always better to fight from victory instead of for victory. As we are shouting what God said, the walls will come crumbling down.
4. It is critical to have a time and place set apart for prayer. The story started off with Miss Clara showing Elizabeth her war room. This closet had been cleaned out and arranged with reminders that created focus and an environment for prayer. Some of the things in the war room included: a book of remembrance-written testimonies of previously answered prayer, pictures that reminded her of what she was fighting for, Scripture verses that are part of a prophetic inheritance to remind her of what her promises were, reminders of her family and who she was fighting for, and a comfortable place to sit and pray. The Bible speaks of a solitary place Jesus would go to pray. The mention of the Garden of Gethsemane where He did warfare before the cross was significant too.
5. One of the powerful things we learn to do in prayer is to sublimate our negative reactions into fuel for the fight. In the Psalms we learned that David turned his “mourning into dancing” and it speaks of “sowing in tears to reap in joy”. After a time of intense prayer where Elizabeth poured out her heart in light of God’s promises, there was an inner transformation of her heart’s emotions. Suddenly she got up and went to doors in her house and declared to the enemy that he couldn’t have her marriage and that she was resisting him in every way. Reminding him that she knew that she had the victory Jesus had won for her.
6. Prayer takes consistency and persistence to produce breakthrough. As Elizabeth began her prayer times, she seemed to be unable to get comfortable or to focus. At one point her daughter walks in and finds her nervously eating potato chips. Things like a distracted mind or sleepiness shouldn’t discourage us from praying but should encourage us that the determination God gives us to press through in times of resistance will simply grow in us our prayer muscles of perseverance and self-discipline.
7. The movie shows that we really need to have a strategy in prayer. I have found two strategies that help me to press in and be consistent in prayer are as follows. I have built prayer times around the pillars of the Lord’s prayer. I pray the sentence and then the specific application of how that sentence relates to my life. For example, “give us this day our daily bread” leads me to ask for the areas I am sensing adequacy and lack in my life and others I love. I pray those needs and scriptures praising God for the answer. Because I have a track in my mind if I have to stop, I know right where to take off again a short time later.
Another strategy I use I call the triangle strategy. When I really want to not only pray about something but to hear from God about it, I pray a triangle around it. The first line of the triangle is where I focus on the need and pour out my heart about what I feel about that. The second line is where I pray Scripture. In this I’m asking the Lord to remind me of promises or principles or even stories from God’s Word that pertain. I remind God and myself of these things. The third line is Holy Spirit. Here, I pray in the Spirit (tongues) and ask for revelation from the Holy Spirit as to what He’s saying or how He wants me to apply the knowledge of the Word to this situation.
8. You really need a prayer partner. Elizabeth was successful in part because Miss Clara was right there praying in agreement with her and reminding her of how she was to fight this battle. I believe God gives us not only prayer assignments for ourselves but assignments to be prayer partners and pray in agreement for and with these partners. One of the things we are trying to coordinate in our church is the assignment of intercessors to those in an especially rough patch in their lives. We have designated times on Wednesdays before and after our prayer service for people to have appointments of prayer with intercessors.
9. When you see a wall come down in prayer don’t be surprised if there is another wall. After God did a restoring work in Tony and Elizabeth’s marriage, Tony’s embezzlement was exposed and he faced the possibility of going to jail. Elizabeth wasn’t shaken but pushed ahead in prayer. The Bible teaches us, “Don’t be surprised by the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing has happened.” When you start going after strongholds in your family there are usually more layers to the problems that become uncovered. Don’t get discouraged, be encouraged that the onion is getting smaller.
10. We raise our children up as prayer warriors by showing them an example. Sometimes we are tempted to make our prayer life a very private thing in the home. We rationalize the Scriptures that tell us to pray in private mean that our prayer life is to be secret. This is not true. As Danielle saw the example of her Mom. She followed it and got her own brilliant answers to prayer.
11. Fighting for each other in prayer is supposed to lead us to fighting with each other in prayer. It is beautiful to see that by the end of the movie Tony and Elizabeth and Danielle are all praying together. I don’t think you can overemphasize the power of married couples and families praying together. In one study I read, they found that the divorce rate for couples who pray together was actually less than one in six hundred. “The families that pray together stay together.” Don’t worry about trying to be eloquent in your prayers with each other, instead focus on being consistent with each other. Even a sentence or two of prayer together before going to sleep or when you wake up creates a powerful bond.
12. Don’t accept or believe things that come to your mind or through others about your circumstances until you’ve heard from Jesus in prayer. The heart of spiritual warfare has to do with defusing and dismissing lies and false beliefs that rise in our minds to get us to act or react in disobedience to God’s will. In times of warfare our minds get bombarded with what Paul called “fiery darts” of lies of the enemy. Beth Moore says, “A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than God”. Elizabeth had plenty of thoughts and suggestions from others to give up on her marriage and fight in the flesh. Instead she went to the word and prayer and cast down those thoughts, replacing them with thoughts she heard from Jesus.