In the last 16 years night and day prayer has exploded around the world in an unprecedented way. Even just 20 years ago it was unheard of that a group of people would devote themselves to prayer and sustain it nonstop for weeks or months or years on end. Now there are literally thousands upon thousands of such groups and they represent nearly every country, race, and church background on the globe. A variety of movements within the church have awakened people to a fresh realization of the value of spending time with Jesus. They have also witnessed the transforming effect of the Presence of God—not just on individuals, but on whole communities, on systemic injustices, and on the lost.
In the late 90s, Pete Greig was a church planter in the UK who was seeking the Lord about how to be the church in such a way that would connect with the poor and the lost in a real way. He wanted to authentically represent Jesus to an increasingly hungry and disconnected culture instead of just being on some “spiritual spaceship,” which it’s easy to be as a church. The search led him and a group of friends to Herrnhut, the town in Germany that was the home of the Moravians. For those of you that are not familiar, the Moravians were a small band of radicals that experienced a move of God in the late 1720s that spawned a number of extraordinary things. First of all, in 1727 they began a prayer meeting with one hour shifts that covered all 24 hours of the day, which continued for the next one hundred years! Fueled by prayer, the Moravians began sending missionaries to every lost place in the known world–including colonial America. This was unheard of at the time, and this small group of a few hundred people is credited with pioneering and launching modern missions as we know it today.
Inspired by the Moravians and encouraged by several divine appointments, Pete and the gang decided to try the same thing at their church in Chichester, England. They posted a sign up sheet for 1 hour slots and created a space designed to facilitate a meaningful prayer experience. To their surprise, people actually signed up! And so 24-7 Prayer was born in September of 1999. Little did they know where all this would take them, or what was happening in other parts of the world. In fact, at least 3 other major global prayer movements all began on nearly the same day in 1999–including the International House of Prayer in Kansas City–without any knowledge of one another whatsoever! Pete had set a start date an and end date for the 24 hour prayer, but the response was so surprisingly enthusiastic that they decided to just keep going through the end of 1999. Then several others in the UK and Europe heard about what they were doing. Suddenly the year 2000 was filled up (not just in one location but several). Stories began to circulate of extraordinary things God was doing in and through the lives of the people in the prayer rooms. Pete and the 24-7 folks began to realize the the place of prayer was the most effective launching pad for mission and justice. This is because people that encounter Jesus and spend time with him end up naturally getting lit up and empowered to go to the poor and the lost.
The story has only increased since then, and is still happening. If you want to read the full account, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Red Moon Rising. Many of us here at WWM have read it multiple times and have gone through multiple copies because we keep giving ours away! So, needless to say, we highly recommend it!