“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’”– Matthew 21:12-13
God’s purpose for his house is that it be a house of prayer. God’s longing is that his house be a place devoted to prayer and seeking his face. However, when we look at the modern-day church, it is not always so. We are consumed and concerned about nearly everything else but prayer.
We have changed the house of the Lord into a place of buying and selling, a place of business; indeed, a den of thieves. We have erred and departed from God’s ordained purpose for his house. In speaking about “the house of the Lord,” there are two dimensions: the corporate level and the personal level.
The Corporate Level of the House of the Lord
Matthew 21:12-13 shows God’s expectations for his house at the corporate level: it should be a place of prayer and worship. The atmosphere should be that of seeking God. It should be a place where people can come at any time to spend time with God.
The Personal Level of the House of the Lord
At the personal level, the Bible also calls our bodies the temple of the Holy Spirit:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This means that God’s purpose for our lives as individuals is for us to be a temple of prayer. Our prime occupation is to worship and seek him in prayer. We are his temple; we are carrying an all-surpassing treasure in these earthen vessels of ours.
Prayer networks seem to be God’s answer to the lukewarm situation of our churches today. What started in the late 1970s has today become a wildfire. It is believed that millions of people are involved in prayer networks. However, no one actually knows how many networks are in existence. According to Benny Mostert, who is with the Global Day of Prayer and the International Prayer Council:
“In many nations, there is more than one network that calls itself the national network. Then you have international networks, and sub-continental networks. You also have new prayer movements and networks being birthed literally daily. More, who knows what is happening, for instance, in China, India, Indonesia, and the nations of the Middle East? And I can assure you much is happening there. There is simply no person on earth who can tell you right now how many international prayer networks there are in the world.”
In the last few years Graham Power of Transformation Africa has been organizing the Global Day of Prayer. In 2008, an estimated 400 million believers from 211 countries participated in these events. Isn’t that encouraging?
The term “prayer network” is typically used in the West and is sometimes little understood in the Majority World. The reason is that these churches are praying churches, and thus, there is no need for separate prayer ministries to mobilize prayer.
To illustrate this, a few months ago I sent out emails (for my role as intercessory director of the Lausanne Cape Town 2010 Congress), soliciting information about prayer networks from various parts of the world. Responses from places like China, Nigeria, and South Korea showed that in these places, the church is the prayer network. In fact, two pastors didn’t know what I meant by “prayer network.”
Classifying Prayer Networks
Prayer networks can be classified based on at least three criteria:
1. Geographically. Under this we can identify the following:
- International prayer networks with global coverage (e.g., the Global Day of Prayer, Intercessors Network and the International Prayer Council)
- Regional prayer networks, which cover continents or parts of a continent (e.g., Central Asia Prayer Network, Asian Wave, and Intercessors for Africa. Many of the international prayer networks have regional equivalents.)
- National prayer networks, which are country specific. In most countries, there is more than one national prayer network.
- Local prayer networks, which are city-wide, and in most cases, just a group of people meeting regularly to pray.
2. Target intercessor-oriented. This category defines who can join the prayer network.
- Children’s prayer networks (e.g., Children’s Prayer Network of Australia)
- Youth prayer networks (e.g., the Boiler Rooms in the United Kingdom)
- Women’s prayer network (e.g., Deborah Arise International group, which encourages mothers to pray for the youth)
- Men’s prayer networks
- Pastors’ prayer networks or fellowships
3. Target topic-oriented. These are prayer networks that are focused on a specific area of need. Examples include:
- Governments and those in authority
- Prayer for the persecuted Church
- Prayer for the unreached
- Prayer for the 10/40 Window
Prayer Networks in Different Parts of the World
In addition to the above classifications, the term “prayer network” has different names in different parts of the world. For example,
- 24/7 prayer are centers where people pray twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (e.g., the International House of Prayer, www.ihop.org). Many such centers are springing up around the world.
- Boiler rooms were started in the UK.
- Prayer fellowships is the most popular term used to refer to prayer networks in places like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
- Other common terms include: power houses, prayer warriors, prayer squads, prayer chains, prayer triplets, and prayer partners.
Many churches and organizations also have prayer/intercession departments led by intercessory leaders or ministers. For example, the prayer department of World Vision International facilitates strategic prayer in many parts of the world. GOD TV started a prayer team with a goal to raise one million intercessors. In fact, many secular organizations are beginning to take examples from Christian organizations in setting up prayer departments and employing full-time intercessors to pray for their marketplace work.
There is no doubt that one of the greatest needs of the Church in our generation is a return to humble, sincere, and down-to-earth passionate hearts in seeking God.
God is gracious and merciful and has promised that we will find him when we seek him with all our hearts: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Jesus has promised, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). Let us make the most of the time when we meet with fellow brothers and sisters to pray—no matter how few or how many we are.
Let us join our master, Jesus, in his ministry of intercession. God does things in answer to prayer.