Moravian Prayer Meeting

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The story of the Moravian Brethren is a similar one. When the Christians of various and disparate traditions—Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Anabaptist, and many others—gathered together on the Von Zinzendorf estate in Moravia, in the early 1700s, they saw themselves as pilgrims in spiritual unity. The Reformation had gone sour in many ways, with the church splintering into still more divisions, and all at war with one another. These people purposed to live together in such a way as to answer Jesus’ prayer in John 17:23, and be brought to complete unity. They also had a mission motive, for they believed that such unity would persuade the world that Jesus was who he said he was. With many other Europeans of their era, they had a new and heightened sense of the vastness and diversity of the planet, and they wanted Christ to be confessed by every nation as Lord.

But within a few weeks, they were at each others’ throats, fighting as badly as everyone else. Von Zinzendorf and the elders of the community were heartbroken. In desperation, they called for concerted prayer that God would send a new Pentecost to their community and heal their divisions and make them one, so the whole world would know that Jesus is Lord. To this end, they instituted a twenty-four-hour prayer vigil—two women and two men praying each hour. Their prayers were answered as a powerful Pentecostal experience came on their community, and they were brought to repentance and harmony with one another in the Holy Spirit. Like the churches of Ipswich, the Moravians continued to pray twenty-four hours a day, with no break, for one hundred years! Wherever a Moravian community was established, twenty-four-hour concerted prayers was also established. During this time, two thousand missionaries went out from their communities to almost every corner of the earth.

It was in a Moravian prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London that a failed and discouraged missionary named John Wesley felt his heart “strangely warmed,” and the Wesleyan revivals were birthed

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