Prayer can transform a marriage.
We know that. We hear it all the time. But maybe you’ve been praying for years and nothing is happening. Or maybe prayer is just so BORING. You fall asleep praying. You can’t concentrate. It isn’t working for you. I get it. I’ve been there. Prayer has definitely always been one of my spiritual weak points.
But this year I’ve experienced some real growth for the first time in prayer, and it’s one of the most exciting rides I’ve ever been on! And The War Room, the movie, played a part in that.
The War Room is now available for digital download, and you can pre-order it to gift it for Christmas right now, too! It’ll be available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD December 22, but if you pre-order, it will ship immediately on the 22nd, and can be under your tree in time. It makes a great gift for a sister, a friend, a mom–even a Sunday School leader.
The War Room is brought to you by the Kendrick brothers, the same ones who did Fireproof and Courageous. Here’s the description:
Tony and Elizabeth Jordan have it all—great jobs, a beautiful daughter, and their dream house. But appearances can be deceiving. Tony and Elizabeth Jordan’s world is actually crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage. While Tony basks in his professional success and flirts with temptation, Elizabeth resigns herself to increasing bitterness. But their lives take an unexpected turn when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara, and is challenged to establish a “war room” and a battle plan of prayer for her family. As Elizabeth tries to fight for her family, Tony’s hidden struggles come to light. Tony must decide if he will make amends to his family and prove Miss Clara’s wisdom that victories don’t come by accident.
The real strength of the movie isn’t really in what it tells about marriage, since I think honestly that most marriage problems are messier, and a two hour movie just can’t give that justice.
The real strength of the movie is in how it teaches you to actually pray.
It shows you what to do. It challenges you to get your own heart right. It shows you what to pray and how to pray and even when to pray. And it gives this beautiful picture of prayer being where the real battle is taking place. I totally believe that–as I’ve said before, Prayer is THE Battle, and it is also fortification for the battle. It fortifies us to be able to do the hard things that God will be calling us to do, whether in our marriage or elsewhere.
Yet God gives us a powerful weapon in prayer, and while we hear that all the time, I have to ask: do we believe it?
Because I used to give it lip service, but I didn’t really live it out. So I want to tell you today about my own journey of prayer, and the impact The War Room had on it.
I was in a really dry place last year. I had just come out of several busy years at this blog and growing my speaking ministry (which involved a ton of travel), and editing my new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. At the same time I knew that it was my youngest daughter Katie’s last year at home, and I felt this urgent pull to be super involved in her life. I needed to seize the moment! Yet somehow the list of all the other things that needed to be done didn’t get any smaller.
Then something happened in our personal lives. I can’t share it, because God hasn’t finished the story, but I felt really called to pray for a particular thing. (One day I hope I’ll be able to tell you all about it; it will be a big celebration!)
I had never felt that kind of calling before. It was very much like what Elizabeth felt in The War Room–she needed to pray for her husband. (In my case, my husband’s amazing, and I’m having a great week right now with him away from my computer, so don’t worry about me!). In my case it was something else. But I knew that calling to pray was important.
Up until then prayer had always been about urgent needs or about a list of things I wanted. I tried to throw in the “Praise” and the “Confession” and all those other parts of prayer that we’re told to do, but it often felt rote. But in this case I had a big thing before me and I didn’t have the answers. I didn’t actually know WHAT outcome to pray for–just that it needed prayer. I had never had anything like that before.
So here’s what I learned:
I started with questions.
I never realized how much of the Psalms are actually questions that David was wrestling out with with God. David didn’t know the outcome, either! Often it seems like David didn’t even know how to pray. He was just trying to figure things out!
I have several specific questions that I’ve been constantly asking God for a little over a year now. And the neat thing is that when you have certain questions in your head, and those questions are always before you with God, you start to hear answers. You notice when God is saying something. When there are no questions, then He could be shouting from the rooftops and you may not know it’s directed at you.
Then I started to listen.
I had never really listened in prayer before, and I now realize that it’s because I wasn’t asking anything. If you pray for a list of things, what exactly are you supposed to listen for? But if you’re praying to figure out a problem, or to honestly seek out God’s will, then you’re inviting a conversation.
So I would pray for a bit, then journal my thoughts. Then I’d read whatever Christian book I was reading right then (I’ve been going through a book a week this year. It’s been awesome!). I’d journal again, and often in reading that book I’d see glimpses of some of the answers. Then I’d read my devotional–journal again. Then I’d read the Bible passages and write out the specific verses that were speaking to me.
It’s amazing how many times I would journal a specific question or even a specific verse–and then open up whatever I was reading and have those exact words before me. It was a huge confirmation. And because I was asking questions, more verses started to speak. They fit the questions, you see.
I started to record the questions and the answers.
Here’s where The War Room came in. I loved that image of Miss Clara in her War Room (her prayer closet, really), with the walls papered with all of her prayer lists and answers to prayer and verses that she was praying. And so I decided I needed something visual.
I don’t have a closet like that, and what I’m praying is a little more personal, so I don’t want it all over my walls. But I needed it for me–so that I could go back and see what God was saying, and see specifically what God was doing.
So here’s what I did. This is going to sound super geeky, but I created a notebook in Evernote (that’s an app that you can run on your computer and your phone that organizes absolutely everything) about what I’m praying for. I saved pictures there. I saved verses there. I took pictures of the devotional if it was especially apt that day. I saved emails as it related to the prayer thing. In fact, I even saved another one yesterday!
And now I can see that my prayer life isn’t dead. I can trace what God has been doing.
And the neat thing is that I can see how my prayers have changed. God has been revealing new things to me and I’ve been refining what I’m praying for. But having those visual cues that show me my progression is so key, because it verifies that prayer is about relationship, and I’m not the only one doing the communicating.
You Can Pray, Too!
Even if prayer has always bored you, you can do it too! It’s prayer that is going to change our families and our communities, and it is prayer that God will use to transform the world.
I found The War Room really inspirational to prompt me to get serious about keeping track of my prayers and being deliberate about what I’m praying for consistently. That’s where the strength lies. The marriage story is just a vehicle for the bigger message, and I wouldn’t go into the movie looking for any great marriage truths. The real point is about prayer. I’m finally excited about prayer again! And I know that prayer can transform your life.
So order The War Room digitally now! And then gift it for someone this Christmas. Imagine if we had a whole generation “rising up” and turning to prayer.
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