Monday, February 1, 2016

Does Your Home Have a War Room?

Lots of times I’m behind the curve – technology, fashion trends, TV shows, movies. So I finally got around to seeing the film, “War Room,” one of the growing number of faith-based movies by the Kendrick brothers. Better late than never, as is often the case.

While this certainly won’t go down among the greatest cinematic achievements of all time, its message – for those who believe in a personal God who hears and responds to our prayers and pleas – serves as a powerful reminder.

In case you still haven’t gotten to view “War Room” – whatcha waitin’ for, huh? – here’s a very quick synopsis: An elderly woman decides to sell her longtime home, and while meeting with the real estate agent, discovers the younger woman’s marriage is in dire straits. This prompts her to show the agent what she calls her “war room,” a prayer closet in the most literal sense, adorned only with her prayer requests and lists of prayers answered through the years.

As you might expect, the younger woman, desperate to save her marriage, decides she needs a war room of her own. Through a series of twists and turns, God works in her marriage so by the end, they’re all living happily ever after.

Of course, in real life prayers aren’t always answered so predictably or neatly. Often God’s answers differ from what we want – or expect. Sometimes He says “yes,” but other times responds with a “no” (knowing us and what we need better than we do), or “wait,” or even in a totally different way from what we asked.

The point is, prayer is a resource we greatly undervalue and underutilize. I’m pointing a finger directly at myself right now. It’s kind of like this computer and the software I use for writing. I could choose instead to use a legal pad and write on it with pen or pencil, or just sit around thinking about writing and never actually do it. That wouldn’t make sense. But don’t we treat prayer the same way?

Every day we talk, fret, argue, complain and agonize over an endless variety of problems, concerns and needs. We visit these issues, then revisit them, hash and rehash them. But the one thing we don’t seem to do a lot is pray about them. If we spent as much time praying fervently about these things as we do mumbling about and discussing them, might it make a difference?

In November we have a Presidential election. Each of us concerned about the course our nation has taken and will take in the future knows the outcome could be pivotal, not only for the next four years but also for the ultimate course of our nation. Surveying the state of our society, whether it be about violence, poverty, morality and ethics, or the polarization of views and ideologies, we all can see a need for major, dramatic change. We can spend our time talking about it, speaking with like-minded people to reinforce our prejudices – or we can determine it’s time to pray, to really, devotedly, consistently pray.

But why a “war room”? Because while there’s nothing wrong with public prayer, as long as we’re not like the Pharisees doing it for show, the Bible indicates the real work happens in our private, one-on-one moments with God. Jesus said, But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

Whether we admit it or not, I suspect one reason we’re not as ardent in prayer as we should be is we’re not convinced of its importance and value. Otherwise we’d never use the excuse, “I’m too busy to pray.” Maybe that’s why the apostle James warned, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

James also wrote, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

If we trust in Jesus and His promises, doubt shouldn’t be an issue. He assured His followers, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). He also stated, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22).

What happens if we do believe, if we are faithful to go to our own private “war room” and tell God whatever is on our hearts? Jesus promised, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). 

So whether you’ve already seen “War Room,” or even if you never see it, the principle still stands: There’s no telling what could be accomplished if we all went to war, not with guns and rockets and guns, but with the weapon of prayer, trusting God to respond in His way and in His time. Just no telling.

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