If you just pray hard enough, God will do it

war room claraAs a follow up to my last post, I wanted to bring the subject of The War Room closer to home. Again, in full disclosure I have not seen the film but I have heard a common thread in those that have seen, including the two reviews I posted in my last piece. Most notably, the takeaway from the film is that if you just pray hard enough God will do it.

Please allow me to get a little personal. Not that my story in no way can be a measuring stick but I think it can be instructive concerning this simplified formula in the context of God’s work in his creation. I also share this story because I know I’m not alone and I suspect this will resonate with a good number of Christians.

First know that I’m not sharing for this the sake of bashing a movie or releasing emotional diarrhea but the sake of examining how we consider prayer. For most of the 7 years I was in a troubled, unequally yoked marriage that was peppered with chronic illness and unkindness, I prayed. Oh how I prayed. I prayed that God would save my husband and soften his heart. I prayed that God would heal him and make our marriage whole. I turned my living room into a ‘war room’ and being more aligned with charismatic teaching at that time, would storm the gates, as I called it. The situation didn’t budge.

One day in 2004, I stopped dead in my tracks, or rather, I believe I was stopped dead in my tracks because the Lord gripped my heart. I was tired. I was disappointed. But most of all, I was intent on having things my way. My roar of anticipated triumph turned into a whisper of surrender – “not my will, but yours Lord.” I so desperately wanted him to give me that shiny object of a good marriage that I had prayed for. But alas, his will was something different. It was not long after that in that same year that my husband’s health rapidly declined and he passed away that August just shy of my son’s 7th birthday. Continue reading

When bad theology makes us feel good

woman hugging herselfImagine that you are enjoying a delicious ice cream cone on a hot summer day. There’s something soothing about the frigid, creaminess that alleviates the scorch of the sun. Now imagine that someone comes and tells you everything that’s wrong with the deliciousness that you are enjoying or even goes so far as to knock that cone of goodness out of your hand. If you are like me, you would not take very kindly to that gesture, especially for something that was giving you such relief and comfort. You would feel violated in a way.

Unfortunately, I think that’s very much the sentiment whenever critiques or criticism arise with popular Christian books or movies that many, many Christians enjoy. And I believe there is a good reason. For Christians, our faith is the most defining aspect of our lives and hopefully, the lens through which we view life. It’s life shaping and intensely personal. But the Christian life is wrought with challenges – trials, temptations, difficulties, periods of lethargy and even apathy. We need fuel and encouragement. And so when we encounter movies and books that give us that lift, we will want to embrace it with all our might. God forbid that someone come and try to mess up that mojo with words of warning!

So what I want to do here is not knock the ice cream cone out of your hand but rather ask you to examine the kind of ice cream that will give true relief that we really need. Because I’ve noticed a common denominator with each release of popular books and movies that people praise – “It encourages my faith.” But I think a more important question is at stake. Is that encouragement produced by something that is faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture? Continue reading