The Rise of the Global Prayer Movement

Steve Hawthorne,

We may be living in the days of the greatest prayer movement of history.

Despite some familiar patterns of prayerlessness in the church, more Christians are praying now, certainly, than at any time in history. More than 200 million believers pray every day for the advancement of world missions. At least 15 million groups around the world pray weekly for missions in their communities, probably many more. Prayer events and gatherings abound in many countries.

In the 1990s, millions assembled to “March for Jesus” in public worship. But those numbers were eclipsed by the even larger, and perhaps still-increasing, Global Day of Prayer gatherings that emerged after the turn of the millennium. Reportedly, on Pentecost Sunday 2011, believers in 220 nations took part in this global prayer meeting.

I’ve heard prayer leaders from several countries tell the same kind of story: Ten or 12 years ago, it was typical to see a few prayer meetings or seasons of prayer called every year. Some leaders would dutifully try to coordinate these initiatives on the same national or regional calendar.

But in recent years so many prayer events are taking place that it is nearly impossible to keep track of all the meetings, prayer watches, initiatives, fasts, and solemn assemblies in just one country or region. National and global prayer initiatives are now commonplace.  Instead of leaders seeing these as competing events, many of them recognize that the explosion of prayer is evidence of a variegated global prayer movement far beyond anyone’s control.