The recent blockbuster hit “War Room,” about the power of prayer, was made for less than $4 million and has grossed nearly $70 million at the box office. On the heels of its release to DVD Dec. 22, The Christian Post caught up with the film’s creators, the Kendrick brothers, to discuss the impact the movie made and the future of Christian films.
Alex and Stephen Kendrick, together referred to as “the Kendrick brothers,” have pioneered the faith-based film mainstream invasion as their independently made films paved a way for a slew of Christian movies to be accepted by Hollywood and the media in the last couple of years.
The brothers have made incredible strides in their small town of Albany, Georgia, where they serve at Sherwood Baptist Church. Their first four movies – “Flywheel,” “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof” and “Courageous” –attracted huge crowds with their positive messages, together grossing over $80 million. With their newest film “War Room” grossing almost that same amount on its own, it’s apparent that they reached a new level.
Although films based on Christianity may be booming at the box office, American culture is seemingly becoming more and more irreverent to God. In a recent New York Daily coverpage, the headline read, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” That phrase stirred the filmmakers up to further push their message of prayer, which is the theme of “War Room.”
“That statement is foolish on multiple levels. It’s either very ignorant of the ways of God, you don’t know how God works, or they are claiming omniscient – that we know how God is working in every family, every street corner, in every church,” Stephen said.
“The scripture does communicate that when a nation rejects God, when a nation is dishonoring him – that he’s going to turn us over to our own devices and we will reap the consequences of our sin,” he continued. “Jesus is teaching, love your enemy. We reject Jesus, we reject His teaching, we hate our enemies and there’s murder in the streets. We shouldn’t be surprised that that’s going to happen.”
He then quoted the scripture found in 2 Chronicle 7:14 as the solution. The verse says, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
The Kendrick brothers admitted to holding on to that Bible verse because they’ve seen the power of prayer impact America throughout history in the past and they believe that “can happen again.”
Christian films on prayer, such as “War Room,” may have never been given the time of day just a few years ago. According to an article published in 2010 by Relevant magazine, mainstream media pegged Christian films cheesy and below average because Christians were behind “modern times.”
The Atlanta natives acknowledge that they too have struggled in their early films with having cheesy moments, but they assured viewers that they are working diligently to eliminate that stigma.
“There is something for us to do in studying and learning how to script, how to edit, how to direct,” Alex said. “We’re still learning those things. We hate the cheese factor and we have dealt with that in our own films and we are learning how to have less and less of that, but that’s a challenge.”
“Part of the issue is cheese is really connected to when something doesn’t feel authentic or real, when it’s overly sappy, sweet,” Stephen chimed in. “When it’s too preaching for people that’s when it start feeling cheesy, when you’re wearing outdated outfits or using wrong language or the special effects look not real, you say ‘well that’s cheesy’ so it’s tied to not lining up with thread of truth that doesn’t feel authentic.”
He went on to explain, “What’s hard for Christian films is we’re presenting to them [people], ‘here’s what a Godly, good, happy, loving marriage can look like, or here’s what forgiveness looks like, or here’s how God does answer prayer.’ So to the world that may feel inauthentic to them because they’ve never experienced that before. They may say ‘well that’s cheesy’ but we say ‘No! That’s real life, we’re introducing you to something you’ve never experienced in your own personal life.'”
Whether “War Room” has cheesy parts in it or not, people have been greatly moved by the film. It has incited a movement of people creating space in their closets to fervently pray and fight their battles in prayer. The Kendrick brothers spoke of a report they received from a pastor up North who was contacted by a construction worker because he had been hired 8 different times in a one month to go into people’s homes and remodel their closets into their own war rooms.
“We praise God that people are seeking and thirsting for an intimate time with God. We would never say that a closet is magical for prayer but Matthew 6:6 does tell us to ‘go into our inner room shut the door and pray to our Father and when He sees what’s done in secret He will reward you,'” Stephen noted. “The Lord longs for that one on one. I would tell couples as a couple you should have time to do it and as a family. Making prayer a priority is what to focus on.”
Alex and Stephen maintain that watching a film will not be enough to keep a prayer life alive. They want believers to always encourage one another in the area of prayer so that it does not fade and become lukewarm.
“As the body of Christ we ought to be meeting with one another on a regular basis walking in the door of church saying ‘here’s how God answered prayer, how can I pray for you? How can we keep prayer a priority in our lives or in our church?” Stephen advised.
The successful filmmakers realize however that prayer may not be the most popular subject because of the battles people come up against when they try to pray. With their DVD release, they provided resources to help believers along their journey.
“Prayer is contrary to the flesh. You can stand up on a stage, or you can sing a song, or make a movie in the flesh and chase the glory,” Stephen expressed. “But when you’re on your knees alone in your prayer closet – it says in Galatians that our flesh is in opposition to things of the Spirit of God. So when God is saying I wanna draw closer to you, I want you to do this… Your knees and your flesh is going to be saying this is a waste of time, this is uncomfortable, don’t you need to go work on this…”
“It is through answered prayer Jesus said that our joy is made full [and how] you know that you’re abiding in a close intimate daily relationship with Christ,” he sustained. “We’re in a position to pray bold daring prayers and John 15:7 says it, ‘If we abide in him and his word abide in us we can ask what we will and it will be done for us’. But it is hard work and a lot of times people can hear that but if they are not discipled in that, they don’t get to experience it. So that’s why we create the resources that are connected with each film.”
Alex added, “One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:13 and it says, ‘If you seek me you will find me, if you seek me with all of your heart.’ The key there is all of your heart. God is saying that to us. He can be found, wants to be found but we must seek him with all of our heart. The only thing Jesus said displeases Him is luke warmness and that’s where most of us especially in this American culture find ourselves, with lukewarm faith. We acknowledge God to a degree, we pray to a degree, but our faith is kinda lukewarm.”
“We don’t really take steps of faith, we don’t really seek him fervently. What do we seek? We seek that which entertains us, or gives us pleasure or money. We seek that with all of our heart but we must seek him first,” the actor continued, “That’s hard to do but once you taste what it’s like to see God do what only He can do, it’s hard to go back.”
The talented pair accredited all of their success with “War Room” to the Lord, and for their part, they credited pray and obedience and taking steps of faith in the directions the Lord prompted them to go whether it made sense or not.
The Kendrick brothers ended their interview by providing tips for people who would like to know when God is speaking to them. See an abbreviated version of those points below:
- He’ll give an inner peace in the heart
- He’ll confirm it in His word as it says in Matthew 6:6
- Others will give counsel that brings confirmation
- His Holy Spirit will deposit things while in prayer
- He’ll use circumstances such as open doors, provision and divine connections
“He uses all of those things simultaneously to point to what His will is for our lives and that’s how He has done for every film,” Steven concluded.
“War Room” is now available on DVD/Digital download. For more information on the film or the Kendrick Brothers visit warroomthemovie.com