PRAYER WEEK STARTED
GAINS WORLDWIDE MOMENTUM
COLWYN BAY, WALES (ANS) -- Steve
Houghton almost gave up after
he promoted a prayer walk at his church and only one other person
showed up. Then God told him to watch what He could do with humble
beginnings, and a tiny prayer movement expanded to the nations. (Pictured: Steve Houghton).
“I love to communicate with God,” says Steve Houghton, founder of
Prayer Week (www.prayerweek.com).
Houghton had no church background when he was born-again in 1994. Five
years later, he was asked to be the prayer coordinator at his church in
North Wales because “no one else wanted to do it.”
“I wanted to see the prayer life in our church galvanized, so I
organized a week of prayer,” Houghton says. He promoted a prayer walk
of the town, set for a Tuesday night at 7:00. “I had it all planned in
my mind,” he says. “But I stood on the steps of the church until 7:30
and no one else came.”
Houghton started to moan and complain to himself about the apathy of
Christians. When he was about to give up and go home, one other woman
showed up. Already discouraged, his first thought was: ‘I really don’t
want to see you because now I don’t want to do this.’
The two started to walk and pray through the heart of the city. “I
trailed behind while she prayed her heart out,” he recalls. “I was
grumbling to myself as we walked.” Then he sensed God speaking to his
heart. “He said, ‘Next year, if you stand with another church I’ll
expand this.’” Houghton wondered to himself if he was imagining things.
The next year, Houghton approached another church in Colwyn Bay and
they joined forces for a week of prayer in May 2000. “It was a fabulous
week as we shared and prayed and worshipped together,” he says. “We
came off that week on a real high.”
After that, Houghton started to get phone calls from other pastors in
North Wales, wanting to link up with the effort in 2001. “I didn’t go
seeking this, it’s just something that started to happen,” he says. One
very traditional pastor called and told him: “We don’t pray the way you
do, and we would like to join with you in Prayer Week, but we probably
won’t come to your meetings.”
“I said, ‘That’s great.’” Houghton was encouraged by 13 churches
standing together in North Wales in 2001.
Then Houghton began networking with other Christian leaders in South
Wales, and they held a significant meeting in Cardiff, where several
prayer ministries across Wales pledged their support for the next year.
By May 2002, 300 churches were involved with Prayer Week throughout
Growing exponentially, by 2004 there were 1600 churches involved
throughout the United Kingdom. “We also had people from 23 different
nations contacting us through our website, telling us they would stand
with us in prayer.”
Houghton says God told him to stop counting the number of churches
involved with Prayer Week after the event in 2004. “He said, ‘I don’t
want you to count how many churches are involved; I don’t want you to
declare how many churches are involved; I don’t want you to know how
many churches are involved.’”
One notable endorsement of the prayer movement came from South Korea.
Dr. Yonggi Cho, senior pastor at the mega-sized Yoido Full Gospel
Church in Seoul, Korea wrote to them: “God is healing the land of Korea
because believers are obedient to His Word, and they humble themselves
and pray. He wants to do the same in other nations around the world…
Every Christian should participate in Prayer Week and expect to see
lives changed, families changed, and nations healed…when people really
Houghton’s vision is to see Christians throughout the world spending
one week in prayer together, regardless of denominational backgrounds.
He believes this will promote unity and encourage the body of Christ.
“We want to join as ‘one accord’ for the purpose of seeing the lost
reached, the gospel shared and a harvest of souls.”
There is a global push toward greater unity among believers which is
being facilitated by prayer, Houghton believes. “It’s been coming for
years, but it’s accelerated,” he says. “The Holy Spirit is moving the
body of Christ back together in prayer. We need to be united.”
Citing John 17 Houghton adds, “My heart is to show the world that
Christians can work together.” The theme of harvest, from Joel 3, has
also become a prominent focus of Houghton’s prayers.
Houghton is intrigued by the timing of a number of prayer movements,
which all started in 1999. The Global Day of Prayer in South Africa, as
well as 24/7 prayer movements in Kansas City and England all trace
their beginnings to the same period in 1999.
“God is moving his people to pray,” Houghton says. “This is about
Christian standing with Christian, church standing with church, and
nation standing with nation.”
|Mark Ellis is a Senior
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service. He is also an assistant pastor
in Laguna Beach, CA. Contact Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org