Continual prayer

The practice of perpetual prayer (Latin: laus perennis) was inaugurated by the archimandrite Alexander (died about 430), the founder of the monastic Acoemetae or "vigil-keepers".

Laus perennis was imported to Western Europe at Agaunum, where it was carried on, day and night, by several choirs, or turmae, who succeeded each other in the recitation of the divine office, so that prayer went on without cessation. The inauguration of laus perennis at Agaunum was the occasion of a solemn ceremony, and of a sermon by St. Avitus which survives. The "custom of Agaunum", as it came to be called, spread over Gaul, to Lyons, Chalons, the Abbey of Saint Denis, to Luxeuil, Saint-Germain at Paris, Saint Medard at Soissons, to Saint-Riquier, and was taken up by the monks of Remiremont Abbey and Laon Abbey, though the Abbey of Agaunum had ceased to practice it from the beginning of the ninth century. (Catholic Encyclopedia "Agaunum")

Contemporary 24-7 prayer movement

The practice of perpetual prayer, now given the term 24-7 prayer movement, found new adherents in the final years of the twentieth century and continues to gain momentum. It is a movement within the worldwide Christian church, across denominations, that focuses on creating "prayer rooms" where there are Christians engaged in prayer day and night.

In places where it is not feasible to staff a location with people who can keep prayer continual, prayer chains are often created in which at least one person from a congregation commits to each hour of the day or week, so that someone from that congregation is always in prayer.

Theologically, proponents of the prayer movement point to evidence that the original Tabernacle of David, and temple built by Solomon, had priests ministering before Yahweh around the clock. Some Christians believe that Yahweh chose the tabernacle and subsequent temple to be a dwelling place, a habitation of God. Supporters of the 24-7 prayer movement acknowledge that it was not the place, so much as the fervency of David's passionate devotion that led Yahweh to choose the tabernacle as dwelling place. Continual prayer is seen as a conducive atmosphere to develop that passionate devotion, as well as a result of the same devotion.

The rhythm of 24-7 prayer occurred during biblical times and most likely ever since the early church in the book of Acts. Some communities, such as a 17th century Moravian Church refugee settlement in Saxony, Germany, prayed 24-7 for over 100 years.

Taking its cue from these Moravians, a church under the leadership of Pete Greig in the southern part of England began experimenting with non-stop prayer in September 1999. Within a year this room had inspired literally hundreds across the world to run weeks or months of continual prayer. Currently this movement has seen well over 3000 rooms in more than 65 countries joining this non-stop prayer meeting.

The International House of Prayer in Kansas City is another visible example of 24-7 prayer and has continued non-stop in worship and intercession since September 19 1999. Whereas the 24-7 Prayer movement under Greig is constantly moving from site to site (in the tradition of the Tabernacle), IHOP is a permanent place of prayer (in the tradition of the Temple).

Technology is also another popular tool used to facilitate 24 hour prayer. Churches across the country use a computerized prayer room system to allow their membership to login and pray for prayer requests from any internet connection anywhere in the world.


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