51rq1RE3r1L - On the War Room: On Prayer and Fighting the Marriage BattleOn Monday night I watched a streaming version of the War Room so I could tell you about it today for Wifey Wednesday.

The War Room is all about prayer–how a wife who starts to pray can bring such changes to her marriage.

I’ve been on a journey of prayer over the last year–praying more for my family and others than I have in a long time. It really has transformed my life in very fundamental ways. I’m learning more to recognize God’s voice. I love times of silence.

And I was so inspired by the movie. Just a quick synopsis (no spoilers, don’t worry!) and a few quick snapshots of what I liked:

Synopsis of the War Room:

Elizabeth, a real estate agent, is married to Tony, a workaholic, lying husband who is verging on an affair. They fight like cats and dogs. Their daughter feels alienated. Her life is falling apart.

In the course of her work, Elizabeth meets Clara, and older woman who senses the fight in Elizabeth. “If you’re fighting against your husband,” says Clara, “you’re fighting against your marriage.” So true!

And so Clara shows Elizabeth her “favourite room in the house”–her War Room, where she does all her fighting. It’s a closet in her bedroom set up with a chair and papered with prayer requests and answers.

Elizabeth starts praying, and God starts moving.

Now for the Snapshots of the War Room:

Clara asks what Elizabeth and Tony do well in their marriage. “Fighting’s about all we do,” says Elizabeth. Clara replies,

“Just because you argue a lot doesn’t mean that you fight well. But I bet that you never feel like you’ve won after you’ve had an argument.”

Ever been there?

Or this one:

Clara wants to start teaching Elizabeth about prayer, and then Elizabeth starts complaining about everything her husband does wrong. Clara says, “are you just going to complain, or are we going to get to work?” Complaining doesn’t fix anything. That is so true–and I’m going to expand on that in another post coming up.

The whole point is that Clara is teaching Elizabeth how to fight–how to go to battle in prayer for her marriage. And if more of us did that, our marriages would be turned around! Such a great message to hear.

And the end of the movie, when Clara tells Elizabeth that it’s time to pass the lesson she’s learned on. Our lives should be about mentoring others. Again, I’d like to write a longer post about just that rather than comment too long on it here.

My Main Reaction to The War Room:

If everyone saw this we would have an outbreak of prayer! And that is so needed. Until we start engaging the battle properly and learning to take things to God, we’re not going to get very far in this life even if our intentions are good. I really do encourage everyone to see the movie!

A Few Other Thoughts About The War Room:

That being said, I did have two reservations about the movie. Neither should discourage anyone from seeing it; it’s just things that I thought that I’d like to discuss.

The first is this: we seem to be addicted to a rather simplistic view of the Christian life, where learning to pray and coming to God makes your life better.

It’s the same problem I see in Christian romance novels where once people come to Christ/find the right guy, everything is better in their lives.

In truth, I have never known that to happen to anyone in real life. I have known people to pray and to see one area of their life fixed, but not everything all at once. And quite often the answer we get about prayer is just this: wait. Again, I’ll write more on this later, but prayer makes no sense without also having the idea of waiting.

Remember, after David confessed about Bathsheba and came back to God, his son still died. David was restored, but he still faced consequences. His life was not peachy keen. I’m not so sure why we need our stories to all have happy, storybook endings when that isn’t real life. Can we not also rejoice in a real life story, even if the ending doesn’t tie everything up perfectly?

Corrie ten Boom was a master of prayer and a wonderful woman of humility, but her sister still died in a concentration camp. All over the world today are people who are crying out to God and praying without ceasing, but they are still refugees in dire straits. Prayer is not just about God doing amazing things to rescue us in the here and now in the way we want; prayer is also about God working on our hearts, and perhaps if we weren’t so addicted to happy endings we’d have a more realistic view of what the Christian life is like.

My second reservation relates more to the purpose of this blog, and it comes back to the “duck” philosophy that is talked about in the movie: “You had better duck, honey, so that God can hit your husband.”

In other words, God wants to hit your husband on the head with a 2×4 to get his attention and smarten him up, but if you get in the way and start trying to do some of the work yourself, you’ll get hit by it instead. So duck so that God can get your husband! All you really need to do is pray–nothing else.

Here’s the issue:

Prayer is the Battle - On the War Room: On Prayer and Fighting the Marriage Battle

We have three battlegrounds: our own hearts; the spiritual realm (against spiritual forces, and where God works on the spirit of others); and the physical world where we interact ourselves.

Prayer engages the battle in the spiritual realm. And it prepares our hearts to participate in that spiritual battle. But it also prepares us to engage in the physical world.

51ARlATfBaL. SL160  - On the War Room: On Prayer and Fighting the Marriage BattleMy problem with the “duck” philosophy, which I speak out quite vehemently against in my book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, is that it gives the impression that the spiritual realm is the only battle. It is not. God does not just want us praying, “your kingdom come.” He also wants us to actively be a part of bringing His kingdom to the world.

(See the book here.)

In 1 Chronicles 14 David has to go up and fight the Philistines twice. Both times he inquires of the Lord (he fortifies for battle!) about what he should do. The first time God tells him, “go up and fight, and I will deliver them.” The prayer is fortification for what David actually has to do in the physical world–and as David steps out and does that, God fights in the spiritual realm at the same time.

The second instance is different: God tells David not to go and fight, but instead to walk around behind the Philistines and watch what God will do. After God works, then David can advance.

The “duck” philosophy is that it treats every instance like #2, when frequently (and, I would argue, usually) God wants us to act like #1–we have to go out and do something.

Ironically, I’m in a #2 place in my personal life with something right now. Last year God was telling me to go out and fight, and I did. And now God is telling me to wait and watch what He will do. So I am not saying that every instance is a #1. I’m just saying they’re not all #2s either. Sometimes we have to ACT.

But we cannot act unless we first fight that battle in prayer–that battle that gets our own hearts right, and that battle that prepares the spiritual ground.

I see it as a three part battle:

  1. We do battle to get our hearts right.
  2. We bang on the gates of heaven on behalf of our husband’s heart and soul
  3. We ask God for direction on what steps we should take to bring His will and His kingdom into our marriage.

There’s not a lot of good teaching on #3. There’s a lot on #2, and a little bit on #1. But #3 is almost completely lacking.

Nevertheless, in Scripture we’re told to do more than pray. We’re to rescue the wandering believer (James 5:19-20). We’re to confront someone in sin (Matthew 18:15-20). We’re to make peace (Romans 12:18). If all we’re to do is to pray, then James would have written: if  you see a believer wandering, pray for him–and left it at that. But he didn’t!

Here’s something even more startling: there are times when we AREN’T supposed to pray until things are right in the physical world. If you go to offer your gift at the altar, or if you go to take communion, and you remember that you have caused offense to someone, you go and make that right first. Sometimes not acting in the physical realm prevents our prayers from being answered.

So let’s make sure that we understand all THREE battlegrounds: our hearts; the spiritual realm; and the physical realm where we interact.

That’s what the focus of 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage is. Thoughts 1-4 are all about getting our hearts right–because we can’t do anything until we’re acting out of humility and a genuine desire to see our marriage grow, not to get our own way. And a huge part of that is also battling in prayer in the spiritual realm!

But then we get into how to act in a godly way in our marriages. Thoughts 5-7 are all about resolving conflict, or how to address the big things in our marriages. But that’s not the only thing God may ask us to do to bridge the gap or bring His kingdom into our marriages. There are also two other things: learning to make love and value sex within our marriages; and countering the inevitable drift we have in marriage and learning to be friends again.

Those are all action steps that flow out of an active prayer life. Those are all part of the battle, too. Great sex is part of defeating the enemy! Forging a great friendship is part of defeating the enemy. Dealing with festering issues and holding other believers accountable (including our husbands) is part of the battle. We pray, and we act.

People can make two kinds of mistakes: the most frequent is to act without prayer. We forge ahead, trying to fix our husbands and trying to force change when we’re bitter and angry, and it often backfires. Until we can forge ahead with the goal of bringing God into the situation, rather than our own justification, we will make things worse, because the only way to peace is through Jesus.

But the other mistake we can make is to failure to act at all–to make it seem like only God is to do the heavy lifting, when sometimes the greatest act of faith is to step outside of our comfort zone.

I loved the call to prayer at the end of The War Room. I’m already realizing that I need more visible reminders of what I’m praying and of promises or answers I’ve received, and I’m starting to build that in. It was an inspiring movie, and I do urge everyone to see it. It will help you battle in Realms #1 and #2–our hearts and the spiritual realm! And it is a great message to get you to do that.

So see the movie, and then start praying in those realms. Get your heart right! Pray for spiritual breakthroughs. Absolutely!

But after all that, just don’t forget that there’s a third realm where God may ask you to act. And in your prayer life, ask Him what those actions should be.

Did you see The War Room? What did you think? Have you ever heard the “Duck Philosophy”? Let me know in the comments!

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