I’m unapologetically committed to prayer meetings because they change the world! For instance, the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, in direct response to the promise of God, and the 10 day prayer meeting held by the church in the upper room. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14)

There are more than 500 direct references to prayer in the Bible, so obviously I believe in prayer meetings because they are Scriptural. God says prayer meetings are important!

Prayer meetings have also shaped the history of the church. The Moravians, for instance, held an unceasing prayer meeting that lasted 24 hours a day for 100 years. That prayer meeting launched the modern mission movement, broke the back of the evil of the slave trade in England, and led John Wesley to Christ. Wesley, in turn, helped ignite the Evangelical Awakening in Great Britain, and influenced the Great Awakening in the 13 American Colonies. The results of the 100 year prayer meeting touch almost every aspect of evangelical history

In the 19th century, the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting, also known as “the Great Prayer Revival,” in New York City spread prayer meetings across the United States between 1857-1858. More people came to Christ, per capita, during the Great Prayer Revival, than at any other period in US history before or since.

In addition, the Prayer Revival helped unify the nation enough to elect a President from a new, anti-establishment, anti-slavery political party. The political party, now called the “GOP”, was only 6 years old in 1860, when the “outsider” candidate, Abraham Lincoln, became the first Republican President. In that sense, the prayer meeting paved the way for the election of Lincoln and thus, the abolition of slavery in America. Obviously, prayer meetings have shaped history.

I also believe in prayer meetings because I’ve experienced their power first hand. From my college days, and the nearly all night prayer meetings that helped fashion my ministry, to the city wide prayer meetings in Austin, Texas that have led to increased unity in the Body of Christ and changed the weather patterns in Central Texas, I’ve witnessed God answer prayer.

Recently, I saw God’s protective power as a result of a prayer meeting. I was invited to preach at Promiseland Church in Austin where my friend, Bishop Kenneth Phillips is the pastor. Unbeknown to any of us, a disruptive group of young men had planned to interrupt our service that night. The leader was dressed as if he was headed to a masquerade ball garbed as an Old Testament prophet. Some of the men wore military style fatigues, and one carried a sign. They were a bizarre gang.

As I started to speak, the weird gaggle entered the worship center walking confidently toward me, shouting out to the congregation and to me, demanding to be heard. I can imagine numerous ways that scene could have played out badly but it didn’t. Those disruptive young men hadn’t calculated on what happens when chaos meets the superior force of a church anointed by the power of prayer. Promiseland Church had just concluded an intense period of seeking God through 40 days of prayer and fasting.

As soon as the trouble makers came in, noisily interrupting the service, the staff and others from the church immediately surrounded them and quickly escorted them out without incident while the rest of us entered spontaneously into a brief season of uplifting praise and prayer. 

The presence of the disruptive group and the church’s response to them was only a small part of the clear hand of God on the church that night. The Spirit of the Lord was manifestly conspicuous in every moment of the service. I don’t know to describe the sensation, except to testify with an imperfect analogy; the presence of the Lord was “thick” in the atmosphere.

A powerful prayer meeting produces that kind of indescribable experience, and leads to clear manifestations of answered prayer. If we want to see God move with power in our churches, our cities, and our nation, believers must gather frequently to pray. Prayer meetings change the world!