There has been a lot of buzz about the Christian-based movie War Room, which hit Canadian theatres last week. We chatted with War Room director, co-writer and producer Alex Kendrick about the success of his film, the message he wants to get across and how the power of prayer has helped him and his team.
Congratulations on the success of the film! What inspired you to write and direct this story in which prayer is the main focus?
Thank you! After we finished our last movie called Courageous, we began praying and asking God to direct us to the next story he wanted us to make. In 2012, he began calling his people back to prayer, specifically how to do battle in prayer. So we began praying and researching that and writing the story and shot it in 2014. Every single day we prayed our way through production even through its release in theatres. We are amazed by the response and grateful that the Lord is doing something with the film that we did not expect.
Can you tell us a bit about the title War Room and how this title came to be?
In the military, leaders will meet in a War Room and look at what their enemy is doing and will form a strategy and call in the resources to fight that enemy before disseminating that information to the troops in the field. In our prayer lives, we should be doing the same thing. We should go to our War Room or place of prayer to do battle in prayer first. Mathew 6:6 talks about going to your inner room and closing the door and praying to your Father in Heaven and your Father, who sees what’s done in secret, will reward you. So there is evidence in the Scripture that at times there needs to be occasions where you go alone before the Lord and seek Him. Before we take action ourselves there must be that moment of seeking God in prayer, so in the film we draw a parallel between how the military uses the War Room and how we as believers should use a War Room, meaning a place of prayer.
Karen and Priscilla are just perfect to carry out the message of the story. How did you cast them?
We already were familiar with Priscilla Evans Shirer. She is an excellent speaker, Bible Studies teacher and she is a bestselling author. We asked her to audition for this role and she did. She had a lot of natural talent and we had an acting coach to help her prepare for this role. She did a fantastic job in this film and it’s her first time acting. We also found Karen Abercrombie, the lady who plays Miss Clara, in North Carolina when she was auditioning in Charlotte. She came in and just amazed us. She is also a Christian who wants to honor God with her abilities. It was a real honor to work with both of them.
I read about your book The Battle Plan for Prayer inspired by War Room. Tell us about this resource and how it reinforces the message of the movie.
We wrote the The Battle Plan for Prayer because we wanted people to have a resource after seeing the movie if they wanted to build their own prayer strategies. So we went through a scripture and we talk about what God says prayer is meant to be and what it is not meant to be. Then we wrote out places and scriptures where you can pray for your spouse, your children, your community, even a nation and ask for God’s intervention and for him to do what only he can do. The Battle Plan for Prayer walks readers through how to fight in prayer first and how to do so based on the scripture.
What are you hoping audiences will take away from this film?
It is our hope and desire that, first, the Church will get more serious about prayer and make it the highest priority. Jesus said my house shall be called the house of prayer. What we tend to do is push prayer to the side and do work on our strength and programs. But you should never make prayer a secondary priority. It needs to be a primary part of your worship and your walk with the Lord. And I hope that when people leave, they are drawn to the Lord, that they have a desire to pray, the desire to fight in prayer for their country and for their families. And I think as we do that God will show up in unexpected ways.
Can you give me an example of how answered prayers have helped you and your team successfully bring this project to the big screen?
When we went to Charlotte, North Carolina we had certain locations we wanted to use for the movie and so we went looking for these types of locations and initially we couldn’t find them. We prayed and asked the Lord for guidance and to help us find them. One by one we found them and they were perfect. Specifically the house we used for Ms. Clara’s home was perfect and it was for sale. It had been on the market for nine months with no interest. The gentleman who was trying to sell it was somehow frustrated and we asked him if we could rent it for one month to shoot the scenes for War Room and he agreed. For his kindness, we began praying for the Lord to sell his house for him as soon as we finished shooting. The day we finished shooting, the very day, a couple came to see the house, fell in love with it and made an offer that was accepted that afternoon.
As a Christian director, can you tell me about some of the struggles you have faced?
There are various world views out there and not everyone has a Christian world view. So we get quite a lot of criticism. People who share our faith, 90 per cent will be very positive and that’s why the movie is doing so well. We do have some people that may not be people of faith, that have appreciated and come to see our film and some of them are highly critical and don’t want to see any religion, any Christianity shared in movie theatres. But we’re okay with that – even Jesus was criticized when he was here. That tells us we are doing the right thing. We want to encourage people of faith and hopefully draw people to the Lord through these films and so far it looks like that is happening.
What’s next for you?
We have few books coming out and we have War Room the novel, that is out. We will then go on a brief break with our families and whatever the Lord directs us to do next, that’s what we are going to do.
Thank you so much for chatting with us and congratulations again on the film!