The story that the Kendrick Brothers tell here is of the power of prayer in the midst of tough times and in day-to-day struggles and success. It’s actually the most powerful film about prayer I’ve ever seen (with apologies to Robert Duvall’s The Apostle). Here, a young married woman named Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Evans Shirer) finds counsel in the home of an elderly woman named Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), and discovers that everything she thought about her life might need reworked.
Elizabeth is married to Tony Jordan (T.C. Stallings), but the two of them spend most of their time fighting, even in the presence of their daughter. They blame each other for the issues they face, and they’ve settled on different ways of adjusting to their lives and their miserable relationship. We realize that their issues verbalize in typical male-female arguments, in ways that they fail to work together, and in the way they seem to be intent on hurting each other.
Lightening the mood are the likes of Michael (Michael Jr.), Tony’s best friend, and a reoccurring bit about how bad Elizabeth’s feet smell. But nothing in the Kendricks’ script is superfluous, from the way that we’re set up from the very beginning to understand that we’re seeing a battle of spiritual proportions and neither Tony or Elizabeth realize what they should be fighting.
Miss Clara tries to tell Elizabeth early on but she’s not ready to listen. Thankfully, we’ve had the prologue so we know that Clara believes that “Very few of us know how to fight the right way, or who we’re fighting against.” She adds that we need to be prepared and ready with the right resources, because “victories don’t come by accident.”
This truly is a movie about prayer, wrapped inside a study of relationships, both the romantic, married type, and the mentoring/discipleship type. The vehicle of the film is really the Jordan marriage, but the power of the film is in the way that Clara tackles her latest opportunity to help someone else avoid the land mines she has stepped on in the past. Clara sees her role as Godgiven, and her role in the film is as inspiring as the reminder that we should all be praying.
In one of my favorite scenes, Miss Clara serves Elizabeth luke warm coffee, to highlight that she has to pick a side about whether she’ll pray or let go of religion. She’s encouraging Clara not to play both sides, to not marginalize God, to be all-in on what it means to follow Jesus. It’s a battle cry in the context of the story, but it’s a battle cry to followers of Jesus, to not just be casual attendees but to be real participants in God’s overwhelming movement to change the world.
"Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds." - Hebrews 10:24
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