These reminders came out of my preview of the forthcoming faith-based movie “War Room.” And though I don’t want to give too much away, I will say the film left my popcorn a bit soggy, and I’m not talking by butter.
“War Room” reminds us how the simple act of prayer can transform our lives and relationships — something easily dismissed in our world of competing interests. And yet the war within threatens our very well-being and all we hold dear. Without a proper strategy, we risk despair and doom.
Though prayer and faith go hand in hand, sometimes we misunderstand what prayer really is.
In the late 1800s, a young Carmelite nun named Therese of Lisieux, France, described prayer simply as “a surge of the heart” toward heaven, “a cry of recognition and love.” Mahatma Gandhi called prayer “a longing of the soul,” adding that it is better when praying “to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
Prayer isn’t like a gumball machine whereby we insert our coin and expect an immediate treat. Rather, it’s the placing of our burdens and blessings before the Lord and submitting to God’s will. Since God’s vision is so much wider than our own, the effects of prayer often bring us to a better place than we could have imagined alone.
The substance of a life of faith, prayer provides the basis for a reciprocal, life-giving connection between creature and creator. On bended knee, or through some other posture of humility, we approach God like children in this universal act of yearning toward the divine.
And though we don’t actually see God with our eyes in prayer, through “the assurance of things hoped for,” as Hebrews 11 describes faith, we trust our good God is listening.
The movie “War Room” takes these timeless truths and brings them into the heart of a modern-day home, a family and its web of relationships, and even closer in, into a small room — a prayer room — that turns out to be the place where the battle plan is laid out and carried out.
It’s so simple as to be missed by many of us, who have our “to do” lists in hand and worries small and large to cover our days. Who has time to stop and pray — really pray?
But anyone whose heart has ever lurched toward God in prayer and found things changed for the better will recognize themselves in this story and, I think, feel moved to recommit to a life of purposeful prayer.
We control so little really. Situations, people and our own weaknesses do not always fall in line the way we would like. But we don’t have to feel powerless against these many uncontrollable elements in our lives.
“War Room” shows us that we have recourse to all that ails us, emotionally, physically and spiritually, and even when our relationships fray and our burdens loom large, hope can spring up through the humble, mighty act of prayer.
Showing in theaters starting Aug. 28, “War Room” will be an encouragement to those who believe in the almighty, even if that belief is waning at the moment, and should cause a spark somewhere in the soul. Though perhaps not Academy-Award-winning material, “War Room” will keep viewers enthralled and leave them inspired.
And as I discovered, it’s even worth a bit of popcorn drenched by tears; tears tapped by the reminder of something powerful to which we all have access: a groping for God through prayer.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on August 15, 2015.]