Alex and Stephen Kendrick, co-creators of the movie "War Room," tell stories of answered prayer in the making of the movie. Joining them are T.C. Stallings and Michael Jr., who appear in the movie.
Alex and Stephen Kendrick, co-creators of the movie "War Room," tell stories of answered prayer in the making of the movie. Joining them are T.C. Stallings and Michael Jr., who appear in the movie.
Bob: There is a movie opening in theaters today called War Room. The director of the film, Alex Kendrick, says this is a movie about the kind of spiritual warfare that every one of us ought to be involved in.
Alex: We paint a picture of “What does fighting in prayer look like?” We do not say that the magic of prayer is because you pray in an empty closet, a full closet, whatever, but that you find a place that you are not distracted—that you are tuned in and focused on the Lord. This is your time to totally seek Him with your whole heart. The Lord says, “You seek Me and you’ll find Me if you seek Me with all your heart.” So, it’s time to go to war.
Bob: This is a special edition of FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to take you aboard the Love Like You Mean It®marriage cruise today as we talk about the fact that all of us are engaged in a battle. The only question is: “Are we fighting?” Stay tuned.
[Previously Recorded Interview]
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition and the Friday edition. This is the first time we’ve ever had both a Tuesday and a Friday edition, simultaneously. The reason for that is because we’re recording this program on a Tuesday. This is Tuesday, February 10th, and we’ve just pulled out of Key West onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. We have a great studio audience joining us here. [Applause]
But today is also Friday, August 28th. This is the day that listeners are going to be joining us as we all head to the theaters today because of a new movie that is coming out in theaters tonight.
Dennis: The War Room is about to descend on theaters across the nation. We have the co-creators of War Room, Stephen and Alex Kendrick, back with us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, guys.
Alex and Stephen: Thank you.
Dennis: And welcome them; will you? [Applause]
Folks know them from Fireproof / Courageous, but they’ve also brought—well, we’ll have to tell the story. Last night, as we began the Love Like You Mean It cruise, Bob really introduced T.C. Stallings. Tell the audience—the listening audience—how you introduced and talked about him last night, as we began our cruise.
Bob: Well, as you’ll see in the movie, War Room, he’s kind of a jerk—really, is what he is—[Laughter]—but by the end, he is not only repented and he’s forgiven, but he’s also pretty awesome when it comes to jump roping too. So—[Laughter]
Dennis: I just—T.C., I have a question for you: “The scene where you dunk the basketball,—
Dennis: “—did you have help in doing that?” Now, tell the truth.
T.C.: Yes, I threw it off the backboard. [Laughter]
Dennis: And that was not T.C. Stallings!
Dennis: That’s our disrupted part of our program. [Laughter]
Michael Jr., welcome to the broadcast. [Applause]
Dennis: So back to the question, T.C.
T.C.: No, there was no help. I thought it was cool that every stunt, every flip, every acrobatic thing—he didn’t know that I could do some of those things—and he gave me a chance to show it all off. [Laughter]
Bob: Wow. [Laughter] Well, but the jump ropes were all digital, so—I’m kidding. [Laughter]
Dennis: No, they were real!
Bob: Yes, they were real.
T.C.: About four months before we shot, he told me—now, that’s the one thing I’ve never done in my life. He was telling me all these things: “You’re going to dunk.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “You’re going to back-flip.” I said, “Okay.” “And then you’re going to Double Dutch.” I’m like, “Double who?” [Laughter] So I spent a few months learning how to do that. They brought a coach on, and it all came together.
Bob: Who knows where you’ve seen T.C. Stallings before?
Bob: Yes—in Courageous. You were the thug in Courageous; right?
T.C.: Iwas a bad guy—yes.
Bob: You were the baddest of bad guys. I didn’t want to be in your way at all in Courageous, man. [Laughter] So, that was really the first time you’d ever acted; right?
T.C.: Yes—that was the first time. Before that all—I’d done some work with The Animal Planet, but that was just a reality TV show. So it was not acting. I’ve never taken any acting classes—I’ve never trained in that area. [Applause] My folks—
Dennis: Well T.C., some folks from Hollywood saw you. You’ve now been in three movies since then; right?
T.C.: Yes. Well, actually, this one would make my sixth film. I’ve had six films and three commercials. Yes, an agent in L.A. saw Courageous—asked me to come out. I told her—I thought it was ridiculous—so I told her absolutely everything I wouldn’t do. I said: “I’m probably not going to make you a lot of money. I’m going to probably say, ‘No,’ to everything that you want me to do. I want you to understand my place.”
She said: “I think God has something for you. I have a Christian agent in L.A.—a highly-reputable agency.” She brought me out there. All she does is send me clean work, and that’s what I get. That’s always the way it’s going to be. [Applause]
Dennis: Speaking of rookies—Michael Jr., you had to have been in several Oscar-winning performances before this; right?
Michael: I was in a couple movies—there’s a movie theater on the corner of 28th Street at my house. [Laughter]
I think it’s legit! I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m glad I was able to add some funny to the film where I could—so I’m just excited. You guys did a—y’all ripped it up / you did a phenomenal job to the glory of God. [Applause]
Dennis: Share with our listeners what this movie is all about.
Alex: You know, between each of our films, we talk about going through a season of prayer, where we just say, “God, what do You want us to do next?” The Lord has always been faithful —that during that season, where we’re praying / we’re just seeking Him—He always sends us in a direction. As our previous films—it’s been love, it’s been lordship, it’s been courageous parenting.
This time, it was the power of prayer—
—the Lord saying, “Call My people back to pray, to seek Me first, to do their fighting in prayer first,” and to let God do what God’s supposed to do. We do the trusting and the obedience unto the Lord. When we do it the proper way, and honor the Lord in the sense that He’s meant and supposed to be honored, we’ll see a difference in our culture.
I would say—even for the body of Christ in America—our nation would be different if we unified and sought the Creator God, who is more powerful than any of our issues, and we sought Him together and humble ourselves before Him. We end with 2 Chronicles 7:14 at the end of the movie. That was spoken to Israel, but that principle applies to us—we must humble ourselves before the Lord and seek Him.
Bob: Stephen, with the themes you’ve tackled over the years, one thing that has seemed to be in every movie is marriage and family.
Bob: You’re obviously aware of that. As you’re dealing with whatever the themes are, that’s the context in which you’re dealing with them. Talk about that a little bit.
Stephen: Well, it is the core of our society. If we do so many other things, but we don’t fix the home, then, at the cell level, there’s still a disease in our culture. So, we always want to be telling a story that presents biblical truth in a way that’s emotionally-encouraging / entertaining. We want people to laugh, and cry, and be caught up in the story; but we want them to see marriage from a biblical perspective, parenting from a biblical perspective, reconciliation/redemption from a biblical perspective.
There are so many people in our culture now—they don’t know what a godly home looks like, or they don’t know what a marriage should look like. So, we try to start every film with where people are and then take them on a journey of where they should be by the end of the movie—pointing them to a biblical standard—so that they say, “Okay, now I know where to head,”
“Now I know I need to go apologize to my spouse that way,” or “I need to be seeking the Lord like Elizabeth does in the closet in War Room.” The Lord has honored that, and we want to keep growing in that way.
Bob: I watched this movie and I thought to myself, “We could just show Fireproof on Friday night at the Weekend to Remember®, show this on Saturday morning, and let them have the rest of the weekend off.” [Laughter] We pretty much got it covered—I mean, you’re dealing with the core themes, Alex, that every couple is wrestling with in a marriage relationship.
Alex: And you know—when you watch the film / really, either of those films—from the worst it is in the film to the best it becomes—somewhere, all of us are on that journey. We may be at different points; but all of us have faced these issues. All of us have faced the frustration, and sometimes bewilderment, and sometimes bitterness, and “How do we handle those?” There is a God who says, “I have the answer for how you handle each of these things.” He presents truth to us, but then we have to obey. We have to walk in faith and apply those truths to our lives. When we do, He can do amazing things.
In War Room—in Fireproof, it was coming from the vantage point of what Scripture says love does and love is / this time, we’re talking about prayer—both essentials in a God-honoring marriage.
Dennis: Marriage is a spiritual institution—God created it. As I was watching the film, I thought of all you folks, here on the cruise—some 2,000 folks—and I thought, “You know, there are marriages here that have burdens, battles, valleys, struggles, big-time issues in your marriage because you’re human beings.” I thought: “What a great message for them to hear, at the beginning of the cruise—that there is a God, who cares about every person here and how they arrived on this cruise,”—and every listener who’s listening to our broadcast—“Regardless of your burden, there is a God in heaven whose ear is attentive to our prayers.”
You guys just took it on—I thought, “You went for the jugular on this one,” because you really talk about—[Applause] —
—of imperfect people, following Jesus Christ, and casting their burdens on Him. Stephen, it nailed it; didn’t it?
Stephen: Well, we look back to a dad who grew up with a dysfunctional father himself. I would stumble upon my father, on his knees, in his prayer closet, crying out to God to help him to be a good husband and a good father. We saw incredible answers to prayer in our parents’ lives. So, we saw our faith was not in the wisdom of men—it was in the power of God. That’s what we grew up with.
So, we’ve been crying out to the Lord for our own marriages, our own hearts, [and] our own children. I’m praying now for my great-grandchildren—who are—My oldest is 13 right now—my kids are looking at me; and I’m telling them, “I’m already praying for your kids and your grandkids,” because we can—there’s not an issue that we’re dealing with right now—in our culture, in the church, or in the home—that prayer cannot address because there is a living, powerful God, who is asking us to pray to Him.
He’s inviting us, through Christ / everything He did, so that we could pray to Him.
Dennis: You think about how we wear ourselves out, taking the burden on ourselves, trying to fix these things. I want to go back to what you said. You said your dad—did he actually have a closet like this?
Stephen: Yes. Yes—he had a prayer closet.
Dennis: Describe it.
Stephen: Well, it was full of clothes, you know; but there was an open area. There were all of his ties—his ‘70s / 1970s, ties were hanging there. He would go in there, and get on his knees and pray to the Lord. Our mom is a praying mom. She, even now, at 72 years of age, gets up every morning and cries out to God for us and for our kids.
So, there’s a whole lot of wind in the sails. We set the sails and the Lord has been blessing the fruitfulness of these ministries, but we know we’re standing on the shoulders of some godly people who are behind us. We wanted you to do the same thing in our home, and we want other people in the church to do the same thing for their families.
Alex: Yes, so we paint a picture of: “What does fighting in prayer look like?”
You see Elizabeth and you see Miss Clara going to war in their closets. Now, I hope you caught in the movie—we do not say that the magic of prayer is because you pray in an empty closet, a full closet, whatever—but that you find a place that you are not distracted. Initially, she walks in there—this character—and she’s looking at her shoes, and she’s doing this, and she’s all distracted. Eventually, she says, “No, I’m going to find a place that’s exclusively my place to go before the Lord.” The point is that you are tuned in and focused on the Lord—that this is the time to totally seek Him with your whole heart.
If you notice—when she goes to war and she starts building strategies—for her daughter Danielle / for her future, for Elizabeth herself, for her husband, for their marriage, for their community. We start in the individual battlefield and then, by the end of the movie, what have we done? We’ve expanded. We’re praying for our corporate battlefield and our Kingdom battlefield, which is our whole entire culture.
Miss Clara finishes this movie with the prayer that I hope we all get to—we are praying for our leaders, and the body of Christ, and our influence, and etc., etc., etc. The Lord says, “You seek Me, and you’ll find Me if you seek Me with all your heart,”—so it’s time to go to war.
Bob: As you’re talking about this, I’m thinking back to two years ago, when you were with us on this cruise. You spoke on this subject of prayer and having a strategy for prayer. This is something God’s had on your heart for awhile.
Alex: He has. You know—the Lord ends up tilling the soil, and then stirring in us, and then, as that fruit begins to grow, we begin figuring it out ourselves because Steve and I are not the smartest guys on the planet. We need the Lord to show us what to do. [Laughter]
But anyway, the more we walk with Him, and obey the Lord, and seek Him—and yes, there’s work to be done / yes, we have to put forth a lot of effort—we want excellence—but the fruit—the change in your hearts and in the hearts of the people who see this movie—that’s only from the Holy Spirit.
Stephen: That’s right.
Alex: We’re just here to say, “Lord, we’ll do what You’ve called us to do.”
Stephen: Well, the godliest men in Christian history were men of prayer. You look at Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret—his spiritual secret was prayer. You look at George Mueller, at the end of his life—50,000 documented answers to prayer in his life / 5,000 were answered on the day he prayed them. You look at the greatest men in Scripture—were men of prayer. Abraham was a man of prayer. David was a man of prayer. Paul was a man of prayer.
In the church, we’re called, and commissioned, and commanded to be people of prayer—to make His church a house of prayer, to be devoted to prayer in our own lives, to put on the armor of God daily and to be praying at all times for all the saints in all occasions. We’ve been disobedient, as a church, to that calling. We’re reaping the consequences of our disobedience in our culture because we’re trying to solve problems in human effort, with human wisdom, and we’re failing.
Dennis: That’s right.
Stephen: So we, as a church, have a great opportunity in our generation to do what they did at the beginning of every Great Awakening—and that is to get on our knees, and to cry out to God, and to say, “Our sufficiency is totally in You.”
Alex: And the more you do that, you will learn how to fight the right battles the right way with the right resources. That is very, very important—that we fight the right battles the right way with the right resources. You do not fight in your flesh. You do not fight with emotion. You guys know emotion will mess you over if you let emotion drive your marriage / if you let emotion drive your ministry. Oh man, you cannot do that.
You must fight with the Word of God—what He says—that’s truth, and then you apply it to your life. The right battles with the right resources. You have a very real enemy—your spouse is not your enemy / our government leaders are not our enemy.
Stephen: That’s right.
Alex: Right? But there is an enemy that wants to stay hidden. Miss Clara said it best in the War Room movie: “He wants to stay hidden. It’s our job to seek the God over him and that he would be exposed.” We pray the Lord’s principles, the Lord’s way, and that’s where you see fruit.
Dennis: I want to ask the Kendrick brothers a question because, in the movie, there’s this scene where there are answers to prayer that are framed.
Dennis: You mentioned your father had a prayer closet.
Dennis: Did he also have some spiritual artifacts framed as well?
Alex: Oh, those—as a matter of fact, if you were to look at those in slow motion, those prayer requests were all real—like if you could zoom in on them—
Stephen: The answers to prayer were real answers to prayer.
Alex: Yes. They were—
Stephen: They were the real answers to prayer over the years. And the pictures around there are really—
Alex: —answers to prayer. Yes. They’re all real. We didn’t make up anything.
Dennis: —of your father’s?
Alex: Well, some of them were from him but not all of them.
Alex: And some of them were from some of the leaders on our crew that said—because every single day, we’d start off with devotions and prayer time. Some of them were like, “The biggest answer to prayer—we’d pray for this and this happened.” So that’s on that sheet. Some of them were from our family, yes; but some of them were from the crew. When you see that—and this is going to be on the DVD / it’s part of the DVD—when you zoom in and start looking at those things, all of them are real. All of them are real answers to prayer.
Michael Jr.: Are you telling the house story yet, or you not doing that yet?
Dennis: What’s the house story?
Alex: Well, on set, we saw God answer prayer after prayer on set. Miss Clara’s house—that older white with the columns in the front that she’s on / the nice front porch with the rocking chairs—we were praying for a home—couldn’t find the proper home. We had this type of home in mind. Stephen and I were walking through the neighborhood and see this house—that we ended up shooting at—for sale / asked the guy if we could rent it for one month to shoot in it. His agent didn’t want that to happen because it had been on the market for nine months with no bites. His agent said, “No, this is going to mess—because they’re going to want to come in and redo the wallpaper and paint,”—which we did.
But we prayed for favor. That guy said, “Okay, I’m going to let you have it for one month.” We paid him a fair rent, went in there, did all our work—shot the movie. We started praying, “God, would You sell this house to bless this guy who owns it / that’s been trying to sell it?—because nothing’s happened for nine months.”
The day we finished shooting in that house,—the day—a couple comes up to look at the house—they fall in love with it / they make an offer—the guy immediately accepts. They sold the house the day we finished shooting. [Applause] Thank God! You see what happened here—nine months, nothing going on—and God says, “I’ve set this house aside for My movie.” [Applause]
Stephen: Well, let me say this too—when we met the gentleman at the house, we said: “We’re making a Christian movie. Are you a person of faith?” He said, “I’m a pastor.” We go into his house and we said, “In this room, we’re actually going to take a bedroom and we’re going to build a closet, and then, this is going to be Miss Clara’s prayer closet.” He said, “That’s where I do my devotions every morning—
Stephen: —“is inside that room.” We’re like, “This is the place!” God just went before us in every detail He worked out.
Bob: Did it surprise you—sitting in this room, listening to this audience watch your movie?
Alex: The first thing that surprised me is how hard Michael Jr. cried during the movie. [Laughter]
Michael: I’m not going to lie—I did cry a little bit.
Alex: I’m grateful. Even more important than a laugh or tearing up—is that you see truth, and that you apply it as we are, and that you walk away from this, hopefully, inspired to say, “It’s time to amp up my prayer life.” If you do that, that’s the fruit we’re looking for.
Bob: How important—just remind our listeners how important this weekend is for this movie and for Christian movies in general; will you?
Stephen: Sure. Opening weekend for any film really determines the fate of the film in theaters. It determines the number of theaters / it determines how wide the reach that it goes. What Hollywood does—and what the studios do—is: Monday morning, they look at opening weekend; and then they make the determining decisions as to how many more or less theaters—they’ll shut down a movie / it’ll last only one weekend if people don’t go see it. They say, “Oh, I’ll just wait until later on.” Well, it may not be there if you don’t go see it soon.
We encourage people: “Please go see it opening weekend. Take your church.
“More importantly, use the movie in your churches, your families, your ministries to launch them into prayer and to begin to become people of prayer in your church—launch prayer movements / prayer training—those kinds of things.”
Bob: Dennis, I wish our listeners could have been here, with our studio audience, when this movie was over because I’ve been in movies where, when it’s over, there are cheers, and where there’s applause, and where an audience responds. We couldn’t get this audience to quit cheering for this movie.
Dennis: We couldn’t. I think the reason is all of us here felt like it resonated within our spirit in terms of what we wish God would do, not only in our own marriages / in our families, but also across our nation and around the world.
T.C.: I catch a lot of people—they say Christian movies and things—you’ve probably heard this before: “They’re too cheesy,”—that they’re unrealistic. I think the reaction with the people standing up and, throughout the movie—clapping at certain points— is because, when God comes through when you didn’t think He would, or this miracle happens, or that miracle happens—the world calls it, “cheese”; Christians call it “our reality.” [Applause] That’s what I have to say.
Bob: Well, once again, we want to thank Alex and Stephen Kendrick, T.C. Stallings, and Michael Jr. for joining us onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, back in February, for a sneak preview of the movie, War Room, and for sharing with us about the movie and about the importance and power of prayer after the movie was over. Again, the movie opens in theaters this weekend. We hope you’ll take a friend and plan to go see War Room at a theater near you.
And of course, we hope you’ll also be signing up for the Oneness Prayer Challenge that FamilyLife is initiating during the month of September. We’re hoping that there will be tens of thousands of couples who will be doing what they see the two stars of the movie doing—and that is praying together, as a couple, and seeing God work in their marriage and in their family.
We’re hoping that you’ll join us on a 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. If you sign up today, at FamilyLifeToday.com—go to our website and click the link, where it says, “GO DEEPER,” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, you can sign up for the Oneness Prayer Challenge. When you do, we will send you, in September, a text, or an email, or a message via the My FamilyLife app each day, during September, that will remind you to pray—will prompt you to pray—and will give you instructions on how you can pray together each day. It just takes a couple of minutes—a great discipline for husbands and wives.
We have a whole bunch of people who have already signed up. Why don’t you add your name to the list and join with others who are praying during the month of September as a part of FamilyLife’s Oneness Prayer Challenge? Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” Sign up online for the Oneness Prayer Challenge.
And then we want to also ask you to consider making a contribution to FamilyLife while you’re on our website. We are about to wrap up our fiscal year. The end of August is the end of the fiscal year for us. We’re hoping, over the next couple of days, to end this year in a good, strong financial place. To do that, we’re asking for your help. You can make a donation, online, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I care,”—make your online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make your donation over the phone. If you’d prefer, you can mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And by the way, when you make a donation today, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book on praying together as a couple—it’s called Two Hearts Praying as One.
It’s our thank-you gift when you support the ministry. Again, we hope you’ll sign up for the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge for the month of September.
And with that, we’re going to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. And we hope you get a chance to go see the movie, War Room. I hope you can join us back on Monday, when we’re going to talk more about families and couples praying together. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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