Imagine a church deciding to pray for a set period of time. That wouldn’t be thought unusual, unless we heard it was a decision to pray for 24 hours a day… for a week. But imagine if they decided to pray 24-7 for a month. That would be highly unusual to us, but not jaw dropping. But imagine if they decided to pray 24-7 for A YEAR! Now that would be something. But that is nothing compared to what one group of believers did. Their prayer vigil lasted 24 hours a day… 7 days a week… for 52 weeks… for ONE HUNDRED YEARS! (You read that right… 100 years!)
August 27, 1727: Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf’s Moravian community at Herrnhut, Germany, begins a round-the-clock “prayer chain.” Reportedly, at least one person in the community was praying every minute of the day—for more than a century. If you are interested in reading an article or two, click here and here. From the articles linked, this is written…
FACT: The Moravian Community of Hermhut in Saxony, in 1727, commenced a round‑the‑clock “prayer watch” that continued nonstop for over a hundred years. By 1792, 65 years after commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.
Could it be that there is some relationship between those facts? Is fervent intercession a basic component in world evangelization? The answer to both questions is surely an unqualified “yes.” That heroic eighteenth‑century evangelization thrust of the Moravians has not received the attention it deserves. But even less heralded than their missionary exploits is that hundred‑year prayer meeting that sustained the fires of evangelism.
During Its first five years of existence the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. An unlikely site for revival! Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for revival. On May 12 revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted. Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.” A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period.
On August 27 of that year twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer. Some others enlisted in the “hourly intercession.” “For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,” stated historian A. J. Lewis.
That prayer watch was instituted by a community of believers whose average age was about thirty. Zinzendorf was twenty-seven. The prayer vigil by Zinzendorf and the Moravian community sensitized them to attempt the unheard‑of mission to reach others for Christ. Six months after the beginning of the prayer watch the count suggested to his fellow Moravians the challenge of a bold evangelism aimed at the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey/Lapland. Some were skeptical, but Zinzendorf persisted. twenty-six Moravians stepped forward the next day to volunteer for world missions wherever the Lord led them.
The exploits that followed are surely to be numbered among the high moments of Christian history. Nothing daunted Zinzendorf or his fellow heralds of Jesus Christ ‑ prison, shipwreck, persecution, ridicule, plague, abject poverty, threats of death. Church historians look to the eighteenth century and marvel at the Great Awakening in England and America, which swept hundreds of thousands into God’s Kingdom. John Wesley figured largely in that mighty movement and much attention has centered on him. It is not possible that we have overlooked the place, which that round-the‑clock prayer watch had in reaching Wesley and, through him and his associates, in altering the course of history?
Many churches are organized beautifully… running like a well oiled machine… with programs galore… everyone who is anyone attends there… they are the envy of many in the evangelical community. Yet I’ve been in the game long enough to know that it is possible to do ministry… outwardly “effective” ministry… in the flesh. Sad thing is, numbers don’t impress the King.
I wonder… what would happen if a group of believers determined to pray, and keep on praying, until God sent revival and awakening to us?