Review: War Room


War Room is the latest piece from the Kendrick brothers, known for their wholesome family films.

And before you write it off as just another one of those dodgy B-grade Christian films, consider that War Room took the number one spot on its release over the US Labor Day weekend in 2015 and went on to make a whopping $US73.7m at the box office, placing it in the top 50 movies for 2015.

It isn’t uncommon to come across a film that makes you laugh or touches your heart, but to find one that has the power of influence to change the lives of its audience is rare. War Room manages to do all three.

The opening scene sets the stage with a profound monologue about war:

“War. Power, riches, rights, freedom. . . . There always seems to be something to fight for. But one thing remains true: behind every war, behind the battle, someone has developed a strategy, a plan to fight against their enemy. Of the many battles we engage in today, be it money, control or matters of the heart, very few of us know how to fight the right way, or understand who we’re really fighting against. To win any battle we’ve got to have the right strategy and resources, because victories don’t come by accident.”

And thus begins our story.

Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) and husband Tony (T C Stallings) have a marriage in serious trouble. Tony is brooding and self-absorbed in his work as a top sales rep for a pharmaceuticals company. Under immense pressure to retain this status and lucrative income, Tony relentlessly strives for more material success. He he appears confident, arrogant and powerful. Yet is clearly resentful and bored with his home life, to the point of looking inappropriately at other women. His demeanour is cold and distant, resulting in his becoming emotionally neglectful of his wife and 10-year-old daughter, Danielle .

Elizabeth works in real estate sales and also has a full schedule. In the midst of the busyness and constant fighting, desperate for communication and connection, their daughter is overlooked and broken-hearted that her parents aren’t connecting either with each other or herself.

In a divine twist Elizabeth meets the lovable Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), a sweet and passionate old lady who really loves God. With a quirky and nosy directness, she has a talent for opening up deeper conversations and applying life-changing lessons to them.

During their early connection, Elizabeth visits Clara to establish an asking price for the sale of her house. Clara shows her through, commenting on each of her favourite rooms. During the second visit she manages to extract information about Elizabeth’s prayer life and marriage troubles. When Elizabeth remarks how fighting is “the one thing they do well,” Clara challenges her with, “No, I don’t think you do.”

She then offers to mentor Elizabeth in order to help her save her marriage. Clara’s warfare strategy is clearly revealed to Elizabeth in the strangest of places—her closet. “I call it my War Room,” she says. It is there that Clara surrenders her needs and trials to God and calls on His power to fight, to good effect.

She also agrees to spend an hour a week with Clara learning the art of victorious spiritual warfare, and then begins the battle for her marriage.

While Tony is away on a business trip, Elizabeth prays for him. She then receives a text message from a friend who also happens to be in Atlanta, containing a picture of Tony looking cosy with a woman in a restaurant. Elizabeth is broken, but goes into battle in her war room. She then emerges, filled with passion and rebukes the evil forces from her home and family.

At this very time, as Tony is contemplating an affair, he suddenly becomes violently ill with what appears to be food poisoning. He returns home early and avoids the affair. Other events unfold, revealing that Tony has been skimming product at work, and so is subsequently fired and, of course, chaos ensues.

But you’ll have to watch War Room for yourself to see how these crises play out.

Perhaps the best thing about this film is the practical examples it presents for dealing with real life issues and how to resolve them relationally and spiritually through power-filled prayer.

From conflict resolution, to extending grace, finding forgiveness, letting go and how to pray, this film manages to cover it all without preaching—showing not telling—and is definitely a great investment of your time if you are experiencing challenges in a relationship, or needing grace yourself.

A bonus to the visual practicalities and advice built into the film are the extended resources available, including self-help books, interactive video clips and guides to create your own war room and to build a prayer strategy.

War Room is the key to making this connection with God easy by example. It is realistic, dramatic and also quite hilarious. War Room is a must-watch.

So grab the popcorn, snuggle up on the couch and enjoy!

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