'War Room' guide looks at spontaneous & planned prayer

by Michael Foust , Guest Reviewer |

(War Room Movie/SCREEN SHOT)

ALBANY, Ga. (Christian Examiner) -- Stephen Kendrick says he would rather do just about anything than write a book. And that includes making a movie – a grueling task that takes well over a year.

But God often has other plans for Kendrick and his brother, Alex, two men who are best known for their filmmaking skills but who have penned a New York Times bestseller ("The Love Dare") and a handful of other well-received books that take moviegoers deeper into the weighty subjects spotlighted in their films.

Their latest book is "The Battle Plan For Prayer," a 256-page project that guides the reader through Scripture on a path to learn more about prayer – all with the goal of becoming a prayer warrior.

It's intended as a companion to their Aug. 28 film "War Room," although the film is not mentioned in the text of book and it can work as a stand-alone.

"War Room" (PG) – the Kendricks' fifth movie – tells the story of a couple whose relationship is crumbling when the wife meets a godly elderly woman who has placed prayer at the center of her life. The movie gets its title from the nickname for the woman's prayer closet – her spiritual "war room."

The goal of the book, Kendrick told the Christian Examiner, is to provide a resource for people who walk out of the theater thinking, "I want to be a prayer warrior. I want to devote myself to prayer. I want to make this a more important priority in my life."

"We didn't want them to just fade out with no plan of action," Kendrick added.

"The Battle Plan For Prayer" is one of at least five prayer-focused books related to the movie.

"Peter's Perfect Prayer Place," written by the Kendricks and illustrated by Daniel Fernandez, is a colorful book aimed at young children, while "Prayer Works," authored by the Kendricks with Amy Parker, is targeted toward children in elementary school. There's also the teen-focused "This Means War," written by the Kendricks and Troy Schmidt, and "Fervent," written by Priscilla Shirer and aimed at women. Shirer stars in the movie. For those wanting something tied more closely to the movie, there's a "War Room Bible Study" and a "War Room Church Campaign Kit."

Kendrick said that as he and his brother worked on the movie, it became obvious that they needed to write the companion book which became "The Battle Plan For Marriage."

"I had been leading the prayer ministry in our church [Sherwood Baptist in Albany, Ga.] for six or seven years and had preached probably 12 to 15 times specifically on prayer, and had a ton of great things I was learning about prayer in the process. It was very clear again that the Lord was leading Alex and I to write this book and to share what we had been learning in our own prayer lives, but also to give people a next-step plan of action immediately that they could jump into."

Christian Examiner spoke with Kendrick about the book. Following is a partial transcript:

Christian Examiner: What do you mean by a "battle plan" in the title of the book? That seems also to be an emphasis of "War Room."

Stephen Kendrick: We are fighting spiritual warfare when we're praying. The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and rulers of evil wickedness. He was saying there is a battle that is going on all around us -- whether we're aware of it or not. But our battle is not a physical one. It's not against the politicians. It is specifically against the enemy. ... After he talks about putting on the armor [of God], he shifts to prayer and he says, "Take this sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times for all the saints." He says the battle is in prayer. So when Alex and I were thinking back over our lives, every one of movies has been a string of one answered prayer after another. It has not been because of our talent or training. It's been because of God's merciful provision and guidance in our lives. There is no explanation that two South Georgia associate pastors at a church would make movies that would go international and have the impact that they have had. We know it has been because of the Lord. Each movie has been birthed out of prayer and every stage of the filmmaking has only been carried on the prayers of the saints.

CE: It seems that a prayer room is really emphasized in the movie – a physical prayer room. What are your thoughts on the necessity of that?

Kendrick: We talk about in "The Battle Plan for Prayer" that there needs to be scheduled prayer and spontaneous prayer, because that's what you see in the life of Jesus, and even in Nehemiah and David. Jesus would get up and He had a specific place – it says He went out to a solitary place and He would pray early in the morning. Judas went to the Garden of Gethsemane because Jesus was accustomed to going there and praying. But He also prayed spontaneously, depending on the needs of the moment. When Jesus was giving instruction on prayer in Matthew 6, one of the first things he said was go and find a quiet place – the King James uses the word "closet." Another translation says "inner room." But find a private place where you can get alone, shut the door, and it be your prayer room. So we use that analogy in War Room to challenge people.

CE: How do you see these books being use? Small groups? At home?

Kendrick: My family is going through the "Battle Plan for Prayer" – the adult book – right now with my kids. There are 35 really short chapters, and I'm walking through each chapter with the kids. And it's been fun. To hear my children pray now, they're praying now much more biblically with an understanding of how prayer works. It's been very encouraging and refreshing. I've got a 6-year-old, a 9-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old, and hearing them pray has been very exciting. We want all ages to have a resource to springboard them into prayer, so it's not just the adults but any age can go through it together. We hope pastors will use "War Room" to inspire their churches to want to pray more and to want to study it more. We also hope pastors will preach through a sermon series on prayer that they develop. And then we have the curriculum and the books that they can use.

CE: Do you think that one of the problems is that we may pray a lot as Christians, but our prayers tend to be rather shallow?

Kendrick: Absolutely. We've never been trained as a generation how to pray effectively. What tends to happen is we hear people pray in church lofty prayers that sound impressive, but we feel, "I don't know how to pray that way. How do I do this?" We want to unwrap the mystery and simplify it. An exciting part of the book personally for me is that at the end of the book we go through Nehemiah's prayer in Nehemiah 1, and you see that He applies just about everything we talk about in the book – humbling yourself before the Lord, being persistent in prayer, praying according to the names of God. He's praying in repentance. He's praying corporately. There's actually other people that are praying along with him that he references in that prayer. And he's praying very specifically – for those over authority over him, for himself, and also for the nation. He prays according to the Word of God, because he's referencing the Old Testament promises of God. We're touching on those things throughout the book. We want to make it where anybody – even Bubba on the back row – can be a prayer warrior, too.

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