Note: This is part 3 of a series of articles on the Prayer Movement
According to Mike Bickle, in the 1980s, there were a few dozen groups organizing 24-hour-a-day prayer watches. There are now an estimated 20,000 groups pursuing some expression of 24-7 prayer. Something miraculous is happening! There is a groundswell of prayer throughout the earth. This is happening “under the radar” in local churches, small prayer communities and on college campuses; and it is happening more blatantly through national prayer initiatives and stadium prayer gatherings.
While expressions of 24/7 or “day and night” prayer are only one facet of this global prayer movement, they are certainly one of the most provocative. In my previous article in this series, I shared on the history of 24-7 prayer. That post showed us that this concept of day & night prayer is not new to modern times, but it also shows us that it was a relatively rare occurrence in history. I reviewed nearly every instance of 24-7 prayer throughout Christian history in only one blog post, but now we have 20,000 24-hour prayer groups in one generation! This is true phenomenon. It is historic. It is unprecedented.
1999 – Flashpoint for Day & Night Prayer
It seems that God had the turn of the century on his radar to initiate a new wave of day & night prayer on the earth. Unbeknownst to each other, three key ministries were pioneering new initiatives of day & night prayer that would all go viral and have global impact.
24-7 Prayer, UK
In 1999, Pete Greig hosted a week of 24-7 prayer in England at his church. This sparked an explosion of 24-7 prayer weeks and prayer room across Europe and the nations. 24-7 Prayer has tracked over 7000 prayer room in over 100 nations since 1999. See book Red Moon Rising for info on 24-7 Prayer.
International House of Prayer, Kansas City
Also in 1999, International House of Prayer in Kansas City began 24/7 worship and prayer in the the spirit of the tabernacle of David (w/ live worship teams). Thousands of full-time intercessory missionaries and thousands of students and interns have now hosted 150,000+ hours of live worship with prayer. See the book Growing in Prayer for more info on IHOP-KC.
The Jericho Center, Colorado Springs
The exact same day that IHOP-KC launched, Dick Eastman broke ground on the Jericho Center in Colorado Springs, headquarters for Every Home for Christ with a 24-hour prayer center focused on praying for the nations of the earth. Since then Youth With A Mission and Every Home for Christ have started over 8000 Jericho Walls of Prayer (24/7 prayer chains) in Africa and 2000 in East Asia. See the books Purple Pig and/or Intercessory Worship for Dick Eastman’s story.
While these new 24-7 prayer ministries were still growing on a grassroots level in the late 90s, it seems as if God wanted to highlight the launch of this new prayer movement with a wave of stadium prayer gatherings in the early twenty first century.
On May 20, 2000, Passion Conferences gathered 40,000 college students in Memphis, Tennessee for OneDay, a solemn assembly of fasting and prayer inspired by Joel 2.
In July 2000 in South Africa Graham Power receives the vision for the Global Day of Prayer, which would go on to host the largest prayer meeting in history with over 220 nations praying in large gatherings across the earth.
In September of 2000, Lou Engle and The Call gathered 400,000 young people to the Mall in Washington DC for a day of fasting and prayer inspired by Joel 2.
The recent trend of massive gatherings for worship, fasting and prayer occurring in stadiums across the earth is surely one of the most visible evidences of this movement, but just as important is the marked increase of small meetings at local churches. Within the larger contours of the international prayer movement is the phenomenon of houses of prayer. Without any united effort or centralized organization whatsoever, Christians all across the earth are gathering with a common longing to establish night and day prayer in their cities and regions. It must be emphasized that this has never happened before. History does provide some wonderful examples of night and day prayer, but nothing even remotely comparable to the scale of the present movement. We stare into the horizon and can faintly see a day when unceasing worship and prayer may be normative. Whereas in the past it may have been possible to dismiss it as nothing more than historical oddity of fanaticism, today it is a movement that must be reckoned with. If we are looking correctly, this vision of perpetual incense rising from the cities of the earth should raise monumental questions. –Stephen Venable
Emerging Prayer Ministries, Expressions & Houses of Prayer
Important Note: While we try to get a sense of what God is doing, there is endless variety of the styles, formats, models and terminology that is used in the global prayer movement. For example, the term “house of prayer” can mean many different things to many different people and ministries. The following categories are not perfect, but they help to get a glimpse of the kinds of prayer and worship ministries God is raising up in this movement.
Praying Churches – 10,000s in USA
- Local churches that have a culture of prayer, prayer ministries, intercessory groups, prayer meetings, and leaders that pray.
- Jesus’ house is a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7), and most of the global prayer movement will be expressed within the context of the local church. If you want to get involved in the prayer movement, your local church is the first place to start.
Prayer Groups – 1,000s in US
- Informal prayer meetings, strategic prayer networks, prayer chains, etc. not usually based out of a local church. These grassroots prayer gatherings are an important part of the prayer movement.
- Luke 18 Project has tracked over 400 student prayer groups on college campuses in America
- Examples: Reformation Prayer Network, Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, Intercessors for America
Regional Prayer Ministries – 100s in the US
- City-wide or regional prayer & worship groups, many times with a temporary or permanent prayer room. These are parachurch expressions that involve volunteers from multiple local congregations. Most of these ministries have no or very few vocational staff. Most cities or regions will have a ministry like this, as incense starts to rise “in every place” (Malachi 1:11).
- Many take on the name “house of prayer”, such as the Chattanooga House of Prayer, Concord House of Prayer (in Concord, NC) or RIHOP/Richmond International House of Prayer.
- 24-7 Prayer rooms, based on Pete Greig’s prayer network based in the UK, would fall into this category (24-7prayer.com). Globally, 24/7 Prayer is seeing about 700 prayer room in 114 nations each year (around 100,000 hours of prayer).
- Most of the furnaces (communities) of the Burn 24-7 movement would fall into this category. Globally, Burn 24-7 movement has about 200 Burn “furnaces” in multiple nations hosting monthly or weekly citywide extended worship & prayer sessions.
- Most of these ministries are called to stay relatively small and catalytic, but they are extremely powerful in impacting their cities and regions. These regional prayer ministries are a crucial expression of the modern day prayer movement.
House of Prayer Missions Bases – dozens in the US
- These are, in a sense, highly developed regional prayer ministries that include a large number of weekly hours of prayer, training programs, outreach and some expression of community. Most call themselves a “house of prayer”, “prayer furnace” and/or a “missions base”. Not all citywide or regional prayer ministries are called to grow into larger missions bases, but some are. Most major prayer leaders would agree that these are rightfully more rare and that there is not supposed to be this kind of ministry established in every city.
- Most are sustaining 50+ hours of weekly corporate prayer. A few are sustaining 24-7 prayer and live worship: IHOP-KC, IHOP-Atlanta, Orlando House of Prayer. Gateway House of Prayer in PA is 24-7 in prayer, but does not 24-7 live worship. PIHOP/Pasadena International House of Prayer is open 24-6 and will always stay closed in Sundays. Most larger houses of prayer have a vision to see sustained corporate 24-7 prayer.
- Most of these larger houses of prayer are staffed by dozens or even hundreds of full-time and part-time missionaries, many of them are musicians, singers and worship leaders. Thousands of full-time intercessory/prayer missionaries around the world are serving the Great Commission through the work of prayer & worship, building houses of prayer, equipping the Church and interceding for kingdom breakthrough. These prayer missionaries are “watchmen on the wall”, building day & night prayer throughout the earth (Isaiah 62:6-7).
- Most of these missions bases have planted a local church to provide discipleship, fellowship and community for their missionaries and others involved in their ministry. In this sense they become a “hybrid” of a regional prayer ministry (#3 on our list) and a praying local church (#1 on our list). Very few houses of prayer are able to grow large without this support of a local church community as one facet of their missions base. Many believers from across the city and region still continue to engage in the prayer & training, even if they do not join the local church expression.
While this is my best attempt to give an overview of the growing prayer movement in the United States and the nations, I must say again that this movement is a true movement that is impossible to track and trace. However, we can see enough to know that God is up to something special in this day and age! In the coming articles I will begin to discuss why I believe God is doing this and some of the biblical basis for this global prayer movement. Stay tuned via email, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to make sure you don’t miss the rest of the series!