In 1722 Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, troubled by the suffering of Christian exiles from Bohemia and Moravia, allowed them to establish a community on his estate in Germany. The center became known as Herrnhut, meaning “Under the Lord’s Watch.” It grew quickly, and so did its appreciation for the power of prayer.
On August 27, 1727 twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend an hour each day in scheduled prayer, praying in sequence around the clock. Soon others joined the prayer chain. Days passed, then months. Unceasing prayer rose to God 24 hours a day as someone—at least one—was engaged in intercessory prayer each hour of every day. The intercessors met weekly for encouragement and to read letters and messages from their brothers in different places. A decade passed, the prayer chain continuing nonstop. Then another decade. It was a prayer meeting that lasted over 100 years.
Undoubtedly this prayer chain helped birth Protestant missions. Zinzendorf, 27, suggested the possibility of attempting to reach others for Christ in the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey, and Lapland. Twenty-six Moravians stepped forward. The first missionaries, Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann, were commissioned during an unforgettable service on August 18, 1732, during which 100 hymns were sung. During the first two years, 22 missionaries perished and two more were imprisoned, but others took their places. In all 70 Moravian missionaries flowed from the 600 inhabitants of Herrnhut, a feat unparalleled in missionary history.
By the time William Carey became the “Father of Modern Missions” over 300 Moravian missionaries had already gone to the ends of the earth. And that’s not all. The Moravian fervor sparked the conversions of John and Charles Wesley and indirectly ignited the Great Awakening that swept through Europe and America.
The prayer meeting lasted 100 years. The results will last for eternity.
Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? … He will surely hurry and help them. (Luke 18:1,7,8a)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). August 26.
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