Giving Up Closet Space

A movie inspires a movement of prayer

by Robert Jones

“This may be the first time in Canadian history when massive adversity has not turned masses of people to God in prayer.”

When’s the last time you heard of a woman giving up closet space?

Giving Up Closet SpaceCredit the movie War Room for that remarkable choice. Released in August 2015, War Room was on fire at the box office. It grossed $73.7 million and reignited the prayer life of Christian women across North America. My wife was one of those women.

Ironically, movie critics panned it as “a glossy, elongated infomercial for prayer.” War Room delivered just that. There are over a hundred women in our church alone who credit the movie and a companion Bible study for being catalysts that sparked a revival in their lives.

Written and directed by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, War Room tells the story of Tony (T. C. Stallings) and his wife, Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer). Along with good jobs, they have a nice house and a beautiful daughter. Beneath the surface, however, their marriage is in trouble. Tony keeps Elizabeth in the dark about what is happening in his life, which leaves Elizabeth feeling angry, bitter and resentful.

Elizabeth, a real estate agent, meets a new client, Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie). As Miss Clara shows Elizabeth around the house, she points out her second favourite room, which includes what she calls a “Wall of Remembrance” that holds reminders of answered prayers. “When I look at it I’m reminded that God is still in control, and that encourages me,” she explains. Miss Clara’s favourite room in the home is her “War Room”—a closet with prayer requests covering the walls.

Jocelyn Jones organizes Bible studies for women at North Pointe Community Church. When considering curriculum for the spring of 2016, she came across the movie War Room and felt an unusually strong compulsion to choose the six-week study based on the movie. Jocelyn started by setting up her own closet War Room.

Typically, the spring women’s Bible study attracts 50 to 60 participants. Jocelyn knew she was on to something when more than 120 women purchased study books. Women were challenged to set up their own War Rooms, and dozens responded with stories and pictures of their newly created prayer spaces.

One participant reported, “The study began and I needed to set up my War Room immediately. So I chose a little area in our loft as my own. It is not private, but it pays to be mom because I can make it private by putting everyone to bed!

“I wanted it to be perfect. I spent nearly an hour finding the right items to place in it and organizing everything into my steamer trunk. Then I was faced with what I would do. How would I begin? So I jumped right into it. That first night was unimaginable! I studied and read like never before and prayed for longer than I ever had. I was off to a great start!”

Although opportunities for praying in public places in Canada are being taken away—in June 2015 the Supreme Court found that official public prayers violate the state’s duty of religious neutrality—personal, private prayer spaces are still a choice fully under our control. The interesting thing is that, according to recent Angus Reid surveys, less than 25 per cent of Canadians pray regularly. Economic tsunamis, unprecedented wildfires in Alberta, layoffs across the country, and terrorist threats around the world may be filling the breadlines and headlines, but not the prayer lines. This may be the first time in Canadian history when massive adversity has not turned masses of people to God in prayer. Calling ourselves Christians means nothing unless we are actively praying for our family, friends, and those Jesus has called us to minister to. I don’t mean the kind of prayer thrown up now and then so we feel like we’ve prayed. I mean actual, on our knees, sincere from every ounce of our being, prayers.

I can’t think of any other film or program that focuses on the power of prayer so clearly and so boldly as War Room. We need more Miss Claras to go into their closets and pray. In the prayer words of Miss Clara:

 “Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel. We need an army of believers who hate to be lukewarm and will stand on Your Word above all else. Raise ’em up, Lord. Raise them up.… Raise up a generation, Lord, that will take light into this world. That will not compromise under pressure, that will not cower when others fall away.… Raise up warriors who will fight on their knees, who will worship You with their whole hearts. Lord, call us to battle, that we may proclaim You King of kings and Lord of lords!”[1]

This means war. Will you join us? 

 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV).

 

PrayAt the time of writing, Rev. Robert (Bob) Jones was the senior pastor at North Pointe Community Church in Edmonton, Alta. You can read his blog at blog.northpointechurch.ca. 

This article appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ©2016 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.

[1]. Chris Fabry, War Room: Prayer Is a Powerful Weapon, a novelization based on the motion picture by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015), 394-395.

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