How young people started a global prayer movement
Red Moon Rising tells the story of the founding of the 24-7 Prayer Movement when a group of young people decided to try praying for a month. That unassuming 1999 prayer meeting in a small English parish was the start of something that swept across the world, becoming an interdenominational movement of prayer, mission and justice. It has led to non-stop prayer for every minute of this century, and the creation of 22,000 prayer rooms in 78 nations.
Author Pete Greig confesses that he thought only his mother would read the book. In the introduction to the 15th Anniversary Edition, he writes: “Who buys a book about a bunch of nobodies deciding to pray a lot? It’s not exactly blockbuster material.”
I hear you, Pete, I hear you. I’m still a little surprised I stumbled across the book, took a dip into the first few pages and then couldn’t put it down. It has none of the features that normally keep me reading—a riveting plot, fascinating characters and lyrical writing. It’s written in plain language, jumps around a bit and sometimes lost me in the details of names and dates. In short, it’s a little ‘bumbling’.
So why, you may well ask, am I writing blogs on it, buying copies for my pastors and telling everyone I come across to read it?
The truth is that Red Moon Rising stirred something to life in me.
A fresh vision and desire to pray
This book gave me a desire to pray, not out of a sense of obligation or as something to tick off the To-Do List. It shows how ordinary people can learn to engage with God in authentic, creative and powerful ways.
“A prayer room is first and foremost a living room—a place where the Father waits for his children to come and climb into his arms.”
One of my favourite chapters in the book takes readers on a virtual tour of a prayer room. At the foot of a rough wooden cross lies a crown of thorns made from a jagged-edged coke can, and three huge rusty nails. There’s a bowl of water and a towel. An iPod dock lets you select worship music. There’s a graffiti wall and pens, an ‘Answers to Prayer’ book and prayer request cards. The day’s newspaper stories are stuck to a wall next to a map of the city. There are stones to draw on. There’s a mock brick wall with names of unsaved friends and family. There’s a journal to read or write in.
How I long to step into such a sacred space! I feel the need to be more creative and adventurous in personal and corporate prayer, agreeing with Greig’s conclusion that “we are long overdue for a cultural and creative revolution in the way we pray.”
A sense of the Holy Spirit at work
As I read this book I sensed the Holy Spirit, not only powerfully at work in bringing about the 24-7 Prayer Movement but also moving in my own heart. A warm joy and new courage suffused me, calling me to get out of my comfort zone and become involved in the world around me.
I found myself eager to pray early in the morning. The words of worship songs stirred my emotions. I felt something unclenching inside me, an expansiveness welling up in me. Red Moon Rising showed me that there is a different, whole-hearted, ‘all-in’ way to live out my Christian faith.
A picture of Kingdom-minded unity
The book gives a beautiful glimpse of God’s family praying, dreaming, loving and serving together. The motive was not individual self-promotion or self-glorification but the expansion of God’s kingdom.
“This was God’s movement, not built on personality or platform, and he was raising up all sorts of people, often in surprising places, to take a lead. This thing was holy and I knew that we must never touch it without humility.”
It was joyful to read how young and old, black and white, Catholics and Protestants began praying together. Greig explains: “We would rather celebrate diversity than divide over religious tags. When we approach another expression of Christian faith, we try not to ask, ‘what’s wrong with it?’ but rather ‘what’s right with it?’”
A call to mission and justice
Red Moon Rising clearly shows the connection between prayer, mission and justice, and I was deeply challenged by this. “Intercession is impossible until we allow the things that break God’s heart to break our hearts as well,” writes Greig. As their hearts broke it lead them to ‘become the prayer’ – to go into the dark, lost places of the world and proclaim Christ’s hope and love.
Karl Barth said, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world,” and this is very true of the 24-7 Prayer Movement.
Red Moon Rising is not just another book. It felt like a Holy Spirit invitation to step into a different kind of life, one of courage and obedience, creativity and joy, community and action. It left me with the sense that God is on the move and a desire to be a part of what he is doing.
I believe this book will touch the heart of anyone genuinely seeking or following Christ. As it all began with a rather wild, young crowd passionate about God, it will also hit the mark with teenagers and young adults. The 15th Anniversary Edition has a Discussion Guide that makes the book a great resource for groups, and one of its chapters (Young People and the Purposes of God) tells how God used specific young people in biblical times and in seasons of revival.
The exciting story of the 24-7 Prayer Movement proves that “God uses young people again and again to help restore and shape the destiny of nations. Young people stand at the heart of the salvation story.”