Insights from War Room: You’ve Got to Lead from Your Knees
Being a seasoned actress with an amazing makeup job wasn’t all that 59-year-old Karen Abercrombrie needed to sucessfully take on the role of Prayer warrior Miss Clara in the Box office hit War Room.In fact, the essential element was prayer, which was already the foundation for her life.
Amber recently talked to Karen about the movie and the power of prayer when it’s taken center stage.
In your role as Miss Clara, you could really feel the Spirit of God move as you prayed on screen. That’s not something that you can “perform.” How did you prepare for this role?
KATHERINE: Many years ago I went to a Women of Faith conference and I saw this dynamic actress using her gifts named Nicole Johnson. I just prayed, “God, if you would just let me use my gifts to glorify You, I will do it with excellence.”
Years past and I continued to use my gifts in church and school. But God in His infinite wisdom and understanding He used those years to grow me. Then, 12 years later, I ended up in this tiny little town north of Charlotte, North Carolina, looking for a church family and we found Grace Covenant.
A gentleman from the church named Gary Wheeler, who is the producer of small films, said that the Kendrick brothers were producing a movie and that I needed to send my picture and résumé. I did but, I didn’t hear anything back. Then Gary told me that they were going to be at church and he sent me some dialogue to prepare my audition.
Gary said, “When you go in to audition just do you.” But, when I started reading the dialogue, I could feel something stirring in me and I could hear Miss Clara’s voice immediately. So I pulled an old wig out and when I walked into the room to audition, I walked in the room as Miss Clara.
After the audition they asked about my faith walk.
So I told them about it and they just began to praise the Lord, because I was what they were looking for and they were only two weeks out from filming on the project. They hadn’t found anyone to play Miss Clara.
They had auditioned many actresses from Hollywood, but God kept telling them, “No” because He had this role for me, an answer to the prayer I prayed 12 years before. He was allowing me to get it into alignment and to be refined so I would be prepared for what He wanted me to do.
In the movie your character, Miss Clara, takes Priscilla Shirer’s character under her wing and teaches and mentors her to be a prayer warrior. Who was that prayer warrior mentor in your life?
KATHERINE: My Aunt Vine; she is 87. She had a children’s ministry and would reach out to unchurched children, including me as my parents didn’t go to church. She led me and numerous other kids to the Lord. She is a powerhouse who poured into me over the years. Aunt Vine is someone whom you just want to emulate.
A lot of people think the prayer warrior generation is the older generation. How would you encourage a new fire in this generation for prayer warriors to rise up?
KATHERINE: Prayer is a gift that God has opened up for everyone to have a part in. You don’t need the fancy words. You don’t need thees and thous. You need to come to Him humbly. He calls us to come to Him humbly. We must be willing to clean out the muck and mire because He wants to fill us with good things. He wants to answer our prayers, but we also must get into alignment so He can do just that. Whether it’s unforgiveness or any of the-isms–sexism, racism, classism. We’ve got to clean out the attic. We’ve got to clean out the basement. We must be as clean as possible and He can fill us up with all that good stuff.
Do you have a war room and what does that look like?
KATHERINE: I have a spare room in my house that I go to spend my time in prayer. I go in there to make petition and cry out to God. I have always thought that I was really working it out in prayer in there. But, through this experience, in taking on the role of Miss Clara, I’ve realized that I was only scratching the surface of the power of prayer. I learned a lot. I understand more the gift that prayer is…the tool that it is..the weapon that it is. And that it is something that should be respected as a constant in our lives, not just something to go to when there in desperate moments. It is a protective fortress around our lives.
I remember one scene where you are talking to Priscilla’s Character and she is communicating the busyness of her life that prevents her from devoting time to prayer and you respond that she seems to have plenty of time to argue.
Even as leaders, we often go into Church to serve, serve, serve—how can we reprogram our daily lives to focus on the importance of prayer?
KATHERINE: We have to stop. We have to understand God’s place in this process and we have to elevate Him in our hearts and minds to His appropriate place.
Oh, the busyness of our day is not going to help us move. You’re going before Him, behind Him and blocking Him—preventing Him from doing what He wants to do in our lives.
The Bible says He wants us to seek His face. And that means a lot. When you seek His face, you are looking at Him eye-to-eye—that’s intimate. He craves that intimacy with us.
We’re not being intimate when we lay down a list of what we want and boom we’re off with our day. We must desire intimacy. It’s time we started making time to get to know Him intimately and listen to what He wants to say to us.
Tell me one thing that changed in how you approach prayer from your time doing this movie.
KATHERINE: I want the priority in my life to be directing people back to Jesus. We must direct people back to Him. To do this we need a constant open communication line with the Lord, and it needs to be our priority. To get this we MUST take Him off the clock.
How would you encourage someone who is seeking God to breakthrough an area in their life that they have yet to see an answer?
KATHERINE: Breakthrough happens on so many levels and it is continuous. Sometimes it doesn’t always look like what we want it to look like because breakthrough will ALWAYS be God’s will transforming us so that our hearts and lives come into that perfect alignment with Him.
Keep pressing through. Make Him priority and obediently listen, don’t just talk. “Lord, my heart’s desire is to know you up close. Nothing less. I rest in your infinite love and faithfulness to work out the details.”
Check out this issue at leadinghearts.com