War Room was the number one film this weekend eclipsing Robert Redford and Nick Nolte’s, A Walk in the Woods, Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan in No Escape, and the action thriller, The Transporter Refueled. I would chance to say that the majority of movie goers who threw down thirteen bucks to gain admission to War Room were church goers.
Why is this film resonating so deeply with today’s church? I believe the answer is an easy one to come by and a sad one to confess to. Today’s church teaches passionate, God pursuing prayer, but seldom practices it. Oh, we preach the practice from our pulpits, proclaim it in our Sunday School classes and small groups, and read books about how to do it. But we seldom, if ever, as a community, truly cry out to God, expect Him to act, and celebrate when he does. War Room is resonating with the Christian community because we finally get to see someone praying really and then celebrating when the God of the universe answers those prayers.
Today’s church lacks models of faith driven, high expectation praying. When we see one, like we saw in War Room, we are inspired, even motivated to pray more faithfully, passionately, and to do so, “without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) Models like these are hard to come by because today’s church seems to be way too busy preparing a culturally sensitive weekend worship experience. Because there are people in the worship experience who may be uncomfortable if the church prays with high expectations of God and deep passion, churches make music and preaching the primary routes to the throne of God. And because of this, worship pastors feel obligated to make the musical experience transcendent and teaching pastors must make the sermon a work of art.
When worship services are primarily or only about these expressions, pastors have no chance to model real prayer. And they must be the models. The church needs models of real prayer more than the church needs teachings about prayer.
It doesn’t surprise me that, when those who were the ultimate models for Christlikeness for the early believers, Jesus’ disciples, didn’t have time for “prayer and ministry of the word,” due to the responsibility of feeding the widows, deacons were chosen. (Acts 6) Jesus had modeled prayer for them. In fact, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray He simply modeled prayer for them. He didn’t do a sermon on praying. (Luke 11:1-4) Modeling prayer is the only effective way to teach someone to pray.
When was the last time your pastors set aside time in worship to cry out to God for a miracle? If you’re like most churches, you can’t remember a time. Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer,”. (Matt 21:13) Today’s church seems to have been turned primarily into a house of music and preaching with a few readings thrown in. And when it comes to prayer… It seems as though praying is simply a transition into the next song or is a buffer for the sermon.
The church must be about prayer.
Prayer is what calls down the power of God, not preaching. (1 Kings 18: 36 – 38)
Prayer is what heals us of sinful habits, not a counseling session. (James 5:16)
Prayer is what frees believers being held in prison, not the signing of petitions. (Acts 12)
Prayer is what transforms a culture, not just planting churches. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Why is War Room making so much noise? Because we are finally seeing a follower of Jesus on her knees being the church and we know down deep that we want to be like her and we want our churches to be full of people praying like she prays.