War Room is about Elizabeth, a young woman who has it all materially, but whose marriage had become a “battlefield” with her daughter caught in the middle, quickly becoming “collateral damage.” An older wiser godly lady, Miss Clara, mentors Elizabeth in how to pray and instead of fighting with her husband, she begins to fight a war of prayer for him.
War Room is the fifth feature film from the Kendrick Brothers (Courageous, Fireproof) and is definitely a step above the rest. Though the film critic in me has quite a few critiques (see below), I loved this film, and would encourage every Christian I know to go see it. Non-Christians, probably not (also see below).
For me, the acting was what made the film. Not because the actors were well-known or experienced. In fact, this was lead actress Priscilla Shirer’s very first film role. Do You Believe? had a much more experienced cast, yet I enjoyed this so much more. The actors inWar Room really sold the story. Priscilla Shirer’s passion shone through – she totally rocked her debut role. T.C. Stallings did a good job as her husband, and Michael, Jr. was fantastic as his best friend. But the actress who really made the movie was Karen Abercrombie, who played Miss Clara.
The character of Miss Clara was a brilliant move on the writers’ part. As a sweet old lady with a little bit of spunk, Miss Clara got away with saying a whole lot of in-your-face stuff on screen that you wouldn’t have bought from any other character. From another character, the same words would have come across as cheesy or hypocritical or judgmental – all of the stuff for which Christian movies are always criticized. But with Miss Clara, one minute she had you laughing, the next minute, she hit you right between the eyes with the truth, then back to laughing again. With that truth still resonating in your heart.
War Room is about a lot of things — marriage, materialism, motherhood, mentorship — but at its core, it is the story of a woman who learns how to pray. This concept is a real challenge when it comes to film. Film is a visual medium. With film, you always “show, don’t tell” a story. But how do you show prayer? Miss Clara’s “war room” in her closet was a good way to take an abstract concept and make it visual.
There are several things about the film you could critique — Elizabeth’s husband’s character changes a little too quickly, the ending is a little too neat and easy, and there are several scenes that would completely freak out a non-believer. The most memorable one is when Elizabeth literally screams at the devil to get out of her house. At the all-Christian sneak preview, all of the believers around me were literally whooping it up and clapping and cheering when she did that, but my thought was, “and there went any hope of my bringing [insert every unbeliever I know here] to come see this.”
I would not say this is a movie you bring your unbelieving friends to in order to casually introduce them to Christianity. It’s intense. But that actually didn’t bother me nearly as much about this film as it has about other films in the past. In fact, I really liked it that way. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and wondering why that is. Why have I been so frustrated in the past few years with all of these Christian evangelistic movies that end up feeling like they’re “preaching to the choir” and yet I really loved this film?
I think it’s because this film actually is preaching to the choir, but it realizes that the choir needs to hear the gospel. It’s not trying to be evangelistic. It’s not written to convert unbelievers to believers. It is written for Christians, but not just to give us something to Amen to. To push us, to challenge us, to spur us on as Hebrews 10 says. It’s written not to give us a film to take our friends to, but one to take ourselves to. It’s written to the lukewarmness in all of us, exhorting us to either be hot or cold.
Too many of us Christians are looking to take that speck out of everyone else’s eye and completely ignoring the log in our own. Prayer won’t let us do that. Elizabeth started out thinking she was going to be praying for her husband to change, and soon saw that she needed to change.
Maybe an unbeliever will come and see this film and be converted, too — of course, God can do anything! But that’s not its primary purpose. And that’s okay. It’s good even. Converting unbelievers isn’t the only use for the gospel. We, the choir, need to hear the gospel preached to us every week, too. Every day. Every hour.
So go and see this movie. Let sweet and spunky Miss Clara preach the gospel to you. And let it sink into your heart and be changed. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.