Listen: Film maker Stephen Kendrick talks to Hope Media’s Emma Mullings.
Whenever film-making duo Stephen and Alex Kendrick are deciding what kind of movie to work on next, the first thing they do – without fail – is pray for guidance.
It’s little wonder, then, that their latest offering carries a strong message about the power of prayer.
War Room tells the story of Elizabeth and Tony Jordan, a middle class American couple with a gorgeous daughter, impressive careers and bank balances to match, as well as a struggling marriage and a half-hearted Christian faith.
When Elizabeth meets Miss Clara, a black woman with grey hair and a fierce love for God, she learns what real faith is all about; Miss Clara teaches Elizabeth how to pray. Her wardrobe becomes her prayer room.
Filling The Big Screen With Messages Of Hope
Watch: The ‘War Room’ trailer.
War Room is the fifth film from the Kendrick brothers, who also created Flywheel, Facing The Giants, Fireproof and Courageous.
Stephen Kendrick spoke to Hope Media’s Emma Mullings on the launch of War Room, saying that each of their movies carried a message of hope.
“With Fireproof it was a call to unconditional love and to marriage,” he said. “With Courageous it was a focussing on fatherhood and the impact that a man can have when he steps up to spiritual leadership of his home.
“And with War Room, it’s about the power of strategic prayer; learning how to write down your prayers, learning how to be specific.
“It’s about the powerful effect that prayer can have on families, individuals and churches.”
News Anchor Caught Off-Guard By Emotion
Watch: News anchor chokes up over War Room
Stephen said he believed audiences would be “caught off-guard” with the way God speaks to them through the movie.
At least one moviegoer who was indeed caught off-guard was a Fox TV news anchor, who came close to tears in the middle of introducing the Kendrick brothers for their live TV interview.
He stopped to explain, with a breaking voice, how much the movie impacted his own life. At the end of the interview the anchor explained that people in his hometown were so impacted by the movie that they had to escorted out of the cinema as they were getting caught up in prayer.
When Bible Teachers Become Actors
The Kendrick brothers, both former pastors, have roles in War Room; Stephen is an MC at a sports event, while his brother Alex plays Tony Jordan’s boss.
They’re not the only preachers-turned-actors in War Room. The standout is Priscilla Shirer, an author and speaker best known for delivering Bible messages at women’s conferences.
Stephen told Hope Media that Shirer’s talent took him by surprise.
“We met Priscilla Shirer when we were working on Courageous,” he said. “She wrote the book The Resolution For Women [a book to accompany the film] and did an outstanding job.
“She is such a dynamic person with a fun personality, and we just fell in love with her family.“
Uncovering Priscilla Shirer’s Hidden Talent For Acting
The Kendricks felt drawn to focus the movie on African-American characters, because of the passion and humour they believed they could bring to the topic.
When they asked Priscilla Shirer if she would audition for the movie, she laughed at them, saying, “I’m a minister, not an actress!”
She warmed to the idea after reading the script.
“We thought about Priscilla, because we knew that she believed in the message of prayer,” Stephen said. “After she read the script, she said “this is ministry, this has a great message”.
“So her husband would film her, with his iphone, acting out scenes and then send them to us. We realised that she had raw talent.”
An acting coach was hired to train Shirer and according to Stephen “she learned quickly”.
“If anybody knows Priscilla or has seen her before, you’re going to be blown away at how good she is in War Room,” he said.
Amazing Answers To Prayer Since Childhood
Stephen told Hope Media that prayer has been foundational in his life since childhood and it made sense to base a movie on it.
“Alex and I grew up in a praying home,” he said. “We saw some amazing answers to prayer in our parents’ lives.
“We’d been attending a praying church and just seeing God provide, protect, lead, with all the decisions that we’ve made.
“And every one of our films has been really a string of miracles; one answered prayer after another. For us to be even writing movies, having not gone to film school, and then having international distribution [is a miracle].
“After Courageous, God led us to focus in on the issue of prayer, and the message of calling people back to their knees, to fight their battles in prayer first.”
Why The Title ‘War Room’?
The movie’s title is based on the analogy of a army headquarters. Stephen explains the metaphor in military terms.
“When the military is fighting a battle, they will meet together in their war room,” he said. “They’ll look at what the enemy is doing, evaluate their resources, then come up with a plan.
“What we do though, in the church, is that we’ve got a spiritual battle taking place – the enemy is trying to destroy our families, our marriages, our homes, our faith – and we try to deal with problems on our own.
“Then, after we fail, we’ll run back and cry out to God, “what are you doing?” and blame it on Him. What we need to be doing is seeking Him first.”
“Fight On Your Knees”: Stephen Kendrick
Stephen said he hopes the movie will inspire believers to “begin to fight their battles on their knees first,” and to encourage the people around them to do the same.
“We hope people [who watch this] will know that there is a living God in heaven who answers prayer,” he said, “and He is inviting each of us into a closer relationship with Him.
“And we hope that pastors and churches will use War Room to call their congregations back to prayer.”
“Then God Shows Up In Power…”
He added that Jesus prioritised prayer above every other strategy for life.
“Programs and music, and preaching and everything else are wonderful, but if prayer doesn’t come first, then all of those things will be spiritually dead,” he said.
“When we prioritise prayer, and when we are seeking the Lord first, and seeking His power and intervention before anything that we can do on our own, then God…He shows up in power.
“We hope this movie will be a tool that God uses to call the body of Christ back to Him, and back to unified prayer, because that’s when revival and spiritual awakening can happen in our land, when we seek Him on our knees.”