By Miao Miao
War Room, directed by Alex Kendrick, tells a story of how the heroine saves her family from the verge of breaking through praying and relying on God. It’s a Christian film which can make people feel the power, significance and value of prayer.
The heroine Elizabeth is a real estate lady, her husband Tony is a salesman in a pharmaceutical company, and they have a cute daughter. They drive luxury cars and live in the villa, being full of glamour on the surface; but actually the two of them quarrel with each other every day, unable to see eye-to-eye at all. They pour all their hearts into their jobs, what they pursue are status and power, and what they like are cars, houses, clothes and shoes. They even don’t know some things about their daughter, such as what activity she participates in at school, and whether she wins any prizes or not. Just when Elizabeth feels that her relationships with her family are in a real mess, Clara appears and gives her timely help.
When Elizabeth is helping Clara sell her house, she is attracted by a wall of prayer, and even struck by the room of prayer. From her expression, Clara sees her suffering and sadness, and thus she is sure that Elizabeth is a person God brought to her to offer help after she prayed to Him. Then, the two of them influence each other. And in the end, Clara helps Elizabeth rescue her family and marriage, and all of this is the outcome of prayer to God.
I do like this scene in the film: After Elizabeth comes back home, she empties her wardrobe and sticks the prayers on its walls. Just as she finishes it, her friend sends her a message telling her that Tony is having dinner with a woman in a fancy restaurant. Elizabeth has long ago suspected Tony of his disloyalty, which she never thought would turn out to be a fact. She could have rushed there to call Tony to account for his conduct and drive away that woman. However, she doesn’t do like that, and in distress she offers a prayer to God. This is the first time she prays for Tony, and it is the first time she delivers him to God rather than tries to change him by herself. She reads the verses again and again, “The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Then, she runs out to declare to Satan. This scene is really cheerful and moving. The greatest thing is that God hears her prayer, causing Tony to have a sudden feeling of discomfort that keeps him from going off the rails. Elizabeth obtains true release.
Seeing that Elizabeth sincerely prays with tears, my heart was touched and the words in “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” came to my mind: “People are able to carry out the practice of prayer and understand the significance of prayer, but the effect to be achieved by prayer is no simple matter. Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God. If your prayers are to be effective, then they must be based on your reading of God’s words. Only by praying amid God’s words will you be able to receive more enlightenment and illumination. A true prayer is shown by having a heart that yearns for the requirements made by God, and being willing to fulfill these requirements; you will be able to hate all that God hates, upon the basis of which you will have knowledge, and will know and be clear about the truths explained by God. Having the resolution, and faith, and knowledge, and a path by which to practice after praying—only this is truly praying, and only prayer such as this can be effective.” These words tell us what kind of prayer can be effective. Often times, when we pray, we are just following procedure instead of quieting our heart, speaking words in heart to Him, and letting Him walk into our heart. This is exactly the root cause of why God doesn’t assent to our prayer. Just think about this: When two people have a chat in such an awkward relationship in which they are unable to understand the heart or feel the sincerity of the other, can they be friends? From Elizabeth’s proclamation to Satan, we see the faith, courage and power, which proves that her prayer is effective.
The film, through the contrast before and after Elizabeth’s prayer, expresses the significance and effect of prayer. When we have no God, when we don’t rely on God, we live within the deceptions of Satan and often do battle with our family; we have less understanding and tolerance and have more quarrels and complaints. Yet, only when we are willing to deliver our family to God and offer our sincere prayer to Him can our heart be released and can we have true patience and love. This is the change that prayer brings to us.
When Tony comes back home early because of not feeling well, he seems to sense something. So, he checks Elizabeth’s cell phone secretly and finds that message from her friend. For fear that she may take her revenge on him, he changes the meals in secret and also asks Elizabeth what she wants. However, she has been released since she committed him to God, so she acts as if nothing happened, just asking him if he would like to pray. At this time, Tony’s prayer, in stark contrast to Elizabeth’s, appears to be meaningless, and he even prays with a heart guarding against her. His prayer is full of perfunctoriness; will God listen to such a prayer? At this, I can’t help but think of the words in, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). God detests the prayer of those whose lips say one thing while their hearts think another. The ever spoke a parable of the prayer of a Pharisee and of a publican: The Pharisee’s prayer full of arrogance and conceit was loathed by God, while the publican’s genuine repentance and hatred of himself was approved by God. Now we can see how precious genuine prayer is.
After Tony takes advantage of his situation to steal some products from his company, through prayer, he knows that he should confess and repent. When he speaks out the truth and is about to be sent into prison, he lives in anxiety and fear. The director uses not soliloquy but a series of bridge scenes to show his genuine repentance. The scene of Tony and Elizabeth being in the room of prayer is really touching. They pray to God together and wait together as well. At last, they see God’s blessing and grace: The head of the company forgives Tony. At that moment, they are so moved that they can scarcely speak and only offer their grateful prayer to God again and again. This prayer from their deep hearts is sincere and it moves every audience.
The prayer of Clara in the last scene must be mentioned. It is a proclamation to Satan and much more a prayer to praise God for His glory of victory, which inspires and moves every Christian.
Clara experiences a lot of things and she has ever sincerely helped Elizabeth. However, just as she said, that is mutual. As she helps Elizabeth, she realizes that God is always leading her and accompanying her by her side. No matter when she needs comfort and strength, or when she is happy and joyful, she will pray to God and open her heart to Him. When she recalls her own marriage life or the grace Elizabeth’s family receives from God, her heart becomes filled with strength and gratitude to God.
Prayer is not subject to time or geographical constraints. We can pray at any time and in any place, and we need pray every now and then as well. Prayer is a proclamation we can make to break away from the Devil, and a means by which we can be intimate with God. To maintain our relationship with God, we must pray. Just as a passage of words says: “How can one maintain their relationship with God? By what means can they maintain it? By means of imploring, praying and having the communion with God in their heart. This kind of relationship will allow you to live always before God, and so you will be a very peaceful person. Some people are always doing external things and they busy themselves with external affairs. After a day or two without engaging in the spiritual life, their heart has no perception, and after three days, or five days, it still has no perception, or it still has no perception after one or two months. This means that they do not pray or implore for anything, and they don’t engage in spiritual communion. Imploring is when you encounter issues, you ask God to help you, to guide you, to provide for you, to enlighten you, to allow you to understand, to allow you to know God’s will and to know what the truth is. Praying has rather a broad scope. Sometimes it is saying the words in your heart, speaking with God when you encounter difficulties and saying the words that are in your heart to God when you become negative and weak. You may also pray to God when you are rebellious, or you talk with God about the issues you encounter every day, both about the ones you can understand and the ones you can’t understand. This is praying. The scope of praying is basically having a chat with God, sometimes at fixed times and sometimes at unscheduled times, and it can be done at any time and in any place. Spiritual communion does not really hold to a certain format. Maybe there is an issue, maybe there isn’t; sometimes there will be something to say, and sometimes there won’t. This is spiritual communion.”
War Room is a moving film. It doesn’t simply tell a story of how the family get back together but even shows a microcosm of the whole society. Despite its common and ordinary plot, it moves every viewer. More importantly, it tells us the importance of prayer. Prayer is the best solution to all the problems. As long as we rely on and look up to God with a sincere heart, we will surely receive His grace.
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