Way back in 2004, I was attending a conference in Phoenix where someone encouraged me to read the book Red Moon Rising by Peter Grieg. It depicted the explosion of 24/7 Prayer Centers across Western Europe and how it began spreading across the globe. With the main proponents being college students and young adults, I obviously took great interest.
I could barely sleep the next 3 nights as I read the book, meditated, and prayed that this could become reality at the University of Illinois. Doors began to open slowly over the next year, especially when we were given a facility on the UIUC campus. In late 2005, a couple college students contacted me, hoping to start a week long prayer chain after they had encountered One Thing at the International House of Prayer (IHOP).
Early 2006, I met with the students and put together a small steering committee of prayer coordinators from different campus ministries. We met for several weeks and targeted the first Friday of February after our All Campus Worship Service. Plans were made for a weeklong prayer chain, hoping to unite the 35 Christian ministries at U of I.
Easier said than done. Ministries have their schedules, directors have their insecurities and suspicions, and in general, Christians don’t always rush to prayer. Individually, members of the steering committee began to experience warfare in major ways. But at 10pm on that first Friday, we launched. The following Sunday, we had a unity service at the HUB (our campus facility) where we had Min Chung from Covenant Fellowship Church share a message on prayer, we worshipped together, then received communion.
By the middle of that week, we knew that God was moving in people’s hearts as word began to spread among the different campus ministries and churches. We decided to extend it one more week…then another…then another… The prayer chain continued through the end of the school year for 14 weeks. But in actuality, we left our facility open for the next 2 years to accommodate the students who were desperate to find somewhere to get into God’s Presence. Whether it was individual devotions, group prayer, intercession for the campus, our nation, or the world.
It was beautiful watching students coming together as one Body. No one promoted their own ministries or agendas. We prayed for each other’s requests (salvations, healing, miracles, outreaches), the Church, the government, the persecuted church, the nations, etc. 26 different ministries participated, demonstrating the need for such a venue.
People told us that night time hours would be hard to fill. Well, those were the easiest. Some of our leaders slept at the HUB through the night to help keep watch over the building. At any given moment during the early morning hours, there could be 20-40 students crying out to God in the basement. People would stop by the HUB, eat lunch, get some last minute homework done, then spend an hour praying. They hung out with each other, shared food, raised money for other’s needs, helped complete strangers out.
We began to hear of amazing stories of God’s provision, people following Christ, miracles taking place. Probably in my lifetime, this became the closest I’ve come to experience what the 1st Century Church was like. And it was awesome!
We’ve had a couple “reboots” since then, but I still hold on to a dream that we can establish a sacred space for 24/7 prayer, round the clock, 168 hours a week. Imagine what could happen at the University of Illinois, in our cities and in the world if God’s people would get a clue about the power of PRAYER!
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”
– Andrew Murray
“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”
– Charles Spurgeon