War or Death

Last weekend I took the opportunity to see the movie, “War Room.” It’s an independent film by Alex and Stephen Kendrick (also known as the “Kendrick Brothers”) and the same folks who did the movies, Fireproof (2008) and Courageous (2011). It’s an unapologetically Christian movie about a couple whose marriage is in trouble, and a wife who learns from a mentor the mighty power of prayer as an act of spiritual warfare.

The film surprised Hollywood by opening with $11 million in earnings, and a number two spot at the box office. With only a $3 million budget and a PG rating, this movie is sure to be another catalyst of encouraging wholesome entertainment on the big screen.

Bible teacher and speaker, Priscilla Shirer, stars in the lead role as Elizabeth Jordan. She is a working mom who sells real estate and is part of an affluent, though not perfect, African American family. In addition to being a Christian movie, this movie puts a black family with a working mother and father at the forefront, which seemed to be an intentional choice.

It has been interesting reading some movie reviews from Christian websites and bloggers over the past few days, which have offered negative commentary about this film. As an avid movie watcher, I must say, “There are rarely perfect films, and some of the films I like are not appealing to others.” That’s not the issue. The problem for me is, “Christians sometimes take pleasure in eating our own for lunch.” This is a movie written and directed by Christian brothers. They have put Christ’s name on the lips of these actors (who are actually pretty good); they are quoting Bible verses while talking about evil, sin, forgiveness, and spiritual warfare; and they have made a strong effort to present a wholesome movie (with no sexual innuendo, no foul language, and no violence). It can be a teaching moment for the entire family. Even if I didn’t agree with every single point, I would do that without questioning their intentions or dishonoring their work and this important kingdom contribution. They spiritually name the good and evil at work in the world, and reimage what a black family looks like in America. Christians attacking them is one way we fight the wrong battles and look to the wrong enemies.

Sure, there are a couple scenes in the movie where the outcomes may or may not seem realistic (but again that conclusion may be predetermined by whether or not you actually believe in miracles or the power of prayer). The message from the very beginning of the movie is, “We, as a people or a human race, are constantly fighting and at war. And we, as the Christian church or the people of God, must know who our true enemy is so we can take a stand against him.”

The Bible has a lot to say about our enemy, the Devil. Here are just a few verses:

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV).”

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [the words of Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).”

We know that the ultimate battle against this enemy has been won! Revelation 12:10 reads: “The accuser of our brothers, who accuse them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

The work and methods of our enemy are cause for more in-depth Bible study, and intentional reading. What this movie does is expose the enemy and how his spiritual schemes have physical manifestations in our lives, in the same manner that the Apostle Paul wrote: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).”

The Devil is an enemy to all of us. He wants to destroy our lives, cause us to waiver in our faith, make us miserable in our suffering, and to steal our joy and hope for the future. In short, he wants us spiritually and then physically dead! When I look at all that is happening in the world and even in the church, this understanding is very clear to me. Yet, I have on occasion, missed this subtle realities in my own life and relationships.

It was not many years ago that I was Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer’s character). The enemy was attacking my marriage and family. I was weary and tried, and was about to roll over and play dead. I was going to give up the fight until, like Elizabeth, God sent a woman into my life—a mighty prayer warrior! She taught me how to take a stand against the right enemy, and I watched God change my husband and God also changed me in the process.

I want to clearly say that sometimes someone can earnestly pray and still have a broken and unreconciled marriage, and depending on the circumstances, that may not be sin to them. I find it spiritually abusive when we give wives a messages of submission and praying more, when the same message of total submission to God and prayer is not given to their unrepentant husbands. What I am saying is that when we seek the Lord, especially in the most difficult circumstances and suffering, He can receive glory through our worship, we can suffer well, and not be bitter regardless of the outcomes.

I am also saying that we need to better equip the people of God to pray earnestly as an act of spiritual warfare. It sometimes appears as if we are too quick to give up territory and give the enemy a victory for stuff that quite frankly does not belong to him. If we want spiritual victories, we must use spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:3-5), and that means having conversations with the One God who is all victorious!

In addition to being an enjoyable night out with my girl, this movie has convicted me of the many battles that I need to bring before the Lord in prayer. That spiritual conviction for me and anyone like me, is worth the investment of the movie ticket and is worthy of our support. Don’t just take my word for it.

How about you take a trip to the movies this weekend? Then go to war in prayer.

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015

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