My Journey into Prayer Evangelism
By Phil Miglioratti
I’m grateful I was introduced to prayer evangelism as a process, not a program; a strategy rather than a series of events. At some point in the 1990s, prayer and evangelism were reintroduced to one another and became the “prayer evangelism movement,” with notable messengers and a myriad of new ministries. God only knows every tributary that flowed together to form a great river of renewal and a return to “Book-of-Acts basics” by the end of the decade. But certainly the following must be included:
- For decades, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Operation Andrew has used Look Around, Look Up, Look Out, Look Forward, Look After as a simple plan to encourage Christians to pray for, build bridges to, and invite lost persons to a citywide crusade and then disciple them.
- John Stott introduced the vision of “The whole Church, taking the whole gospel to the whole world,” at the First International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974. It became a banner for integrating prayer with holistic ministry as essential components of evangelism.
- Several denominational leaders helped lead the emerging prayer evangelism movement in the late 1980s and early ’90s, including Lon Allison and Dallas Anderson of the Evangelical Covenant Church and Alvin VanderGriend of the Christian Reformed Church.
- In 1992 the Mission America Coalition (U.S. Lausanne Committee) devoted a year to seeking God’s vision to accelerate evangelism in the United States. Led by Paul Cedar, and drawing from a wide spectrum of denominations and ministry organizations, the coalition quickly identified God’s Spirit at work in an emerging prayer movement and in citywide collaborations of holistic evangelism.
As God was setting the stage of the prayer evangelism movement, He was rearranging my perspectives as well. Like so many pastors and Christian leaders, I was being schooled in what was becoming a new prayer-care-share lifestyle paradigm.
- David Bryant’s concerts of prayer and Bill Bright’s prayer and fasting conferences encouraged the Body of Christ to pray for “John 17 unity” with Christians from other denominations.
- International Renewal Ministries, led by Joe Aldrich, introduced a new style of corporate prayer to communities across the United States. Pastors and leaders spent three to four days in Spirit-led, Scripture-fed praying. This “no agenda, no preaching” approach resulted in cleansed hearts, relationships forged by the Spirit, and a vision for increased collaboration.
- In God’s perfect timing, the technology explosion brought email and Internet ministries, making it possible for new ideas like the National Pastors’ Prayer Network to communicate instantaneously with pastors’ prayer groups across the country. New technology also gave birth to the Mapping Center for Evangelism, enabling outward focused, neighborhood-based prayer to flourish. Transformation videos produced by George Otis revealed God’s heart to transform communities.
- March For Jesus brought millions of Christ-followers out of their seats and into the streets, demonstrating the power of combining people, prayer, and praise in presence-based proclamation.
- Steve Hawthorne’s Seek God for the City prayer guide equipped Christians to pray for lost persons and nations with hope-filled, Scripture-based prayers.
- Francis Frangipane crossed the country, challenging pastors to meet together to pray for their cities.
- Evelyn Christenson asked “What Happens When Women Pray?” and encouraged the formation of prayer triplets to pray specifically for unbelievers.
- Bill Bright called us to prayer and fasting. The call to “pray for, care for, and share the gospel with every man, women, and child in our nation by year end 2000” swept many of us into the prayer evangelism movement.
- Radio station KTIS in Minneapolis introduced many to this lifestyle via several radio marathons devoted to starting neighborhood lighthouses of prayer.
- For more than a decade, in their monthly Lighthouse Report on radio stations across the country, Campus Crusade (now Cru) has been broadcasting stories of people living the prayer-care-share lifestyle.
- H.O.P.E. ministries, led by Alvin VanderGriend, produced resources to serve lighthouses.
- Ed Silvoso’s books, That None Should Perish (1998) and Prayer Evangelism (2000), along with Pray! magazine’s articles by various authors, gave credibility and definition to the prayer evangelism movement.
- The first City Impact Roundtable in 1988, facilitated by Glenn Barth and Jarvis Ward of Mission America Coalition, convened 46 leaders from 28 cities, sharing best practices on prayer, community development, and outreach.
Phil Miglioratti is COO of Mission America Coalition.
WIth thanks to theChurch Prayer Leaders Network