The Lord is calling people to a full-time ministry occupation that I refer to as an prophetic missionary. I define an prophetic missionary as one who does the work of the kingdom from the place of prayer and worship, while embracing a missionary lifestyle and focus. Others may define this term in a different way. As a rule, we ask those who embrace this full-time occupation of “prophetic missionary” to commit to fifty hours per week, including being in the prayer room for at least four hours a day, six days a week.
People sometimes ask me what an prophetic missionary is and where it is in the Bible. In principle, this calling and occupation is found throughout the Bible. In this article, I will briefly mention where this calling is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament—particularly in end-time prophecy—its presence throughout church history, and how it is being embracing today in contemporary ministries.
Though the New Testament gives only a few specific ministry titles and job descriptions, it does present intrinsic values, such as winning the lost, caring for people, helping the poor, and praying. “Apostle” is the title with the clearest job description in the New Testament. We don’t find the title of senior pastor, marriage counselor, youth pastor, children’s pastor, or outreach pastor, etc. My point is that most of the titles we use in the Church today are not specifically mentioned in the New Testament.
The Bible doesn’t give a comprehensive list of ministries that the Spirit has used to meet the specific needs of every culture in the different generations throughout church history. The Church has liberty to name specific ministry focuses in a way that applies to their generation and culture, as long as biblical values are upheld.
The Value of Night-and-Day Prayer in Heaven
Revelation 4–5 describes the worship order around God’s throne. Those nearest the throne magnify Him and agree with His purposes in 24/7 worship and intercession. The worthiness of God demands 24/7 worship—this value will be embraced and expressed forever.
The four living creatures… do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy…” (Rev. 4:8)
Jesus exhorted us to pray that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10). One aspect of God’s kingdom being expressed on earth as it is in heaven involves worship. God’s desire to be worshiped on earth as He is in heaven has not changed. The Holy Spirit has not emphasized this globally through history, but is now emphasizing it to some in many nations. The value of the worship around the throne is timeless. The applications of it on earth have differed in each generation and culture.
Prophetic Missionaries in End-time Prophecy
The Holy Spirit will establish the most powerful prayer and worship movement in history. The Scriptures give indications of the significance of prayer in the end times (Lk. 18:7–8; Rev. 5:8; 8:4; 22:17; cf. Isa. 24:14–16; 25:9; 26:8–9; 27:2–5, 13; 30:18–19; 42:10–13; 43:26; 51:11; 52:8; 62:6–7; Jer. 31:7). It is one of the major themes of biblical prophecy; the conflict at the end of the age will be between two prophetic movements. The Antichrist will empower a worldwide, state-financed, false movement (Rev. 13:4, 8, 12, 15), but the global prophetic movement led by Jesus will be far more powerful.
Isaiah prophesied concerning prayer ministries that would continue 24/7 until Jesus returns—this is when Jesus will restore Jerusalem as a praise in the earth. Isaiah was speaking of the watchmen-intercessors the Lord Himself would appoint and set in place who will not keep silent day or night.
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen [intercessors]; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isa. 62:6–7, NAS)
This clearly emphasizes that God will raise up 24/7 prayer ministries in the end times, which will never be silent until Jesus returns. The 24/7 dimension of this promise implies that some intercessors and ministries are called to engage in this as a full-time occupation. God’s promise to appoint intercessors indicates that He will make a way for them to walk in this calling, including financial provision.
Isaiah is referring to New Testament believers (who will be on the earth when Jesus returns)—some will be full-time occupational intercessors. Their hard work in prayer is meant to serve and strengthen the prayer ministries in local churches in their region, and to be catalytic by inspiring and supporting others in prayer.
Only one generation will see the fulfillment of God’s promise to appoint, or set, watchmen (intercessors) in place to cry out all day and all night until Jerusalem becomes a praise in the earth. This prophecy speaks specifically of prayer ministries being established by the Lord that will continue until He returns, for Jerusalem will become a praise in the earth only after Jesus returns. At that time, all the nations will see Jerusalem as Jesus’ own city, as the city of the Great King (Jer. 3:17; Mt. 5:35).
Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of a “spiritual wall” of intercession from which the end-time watchmen-intercessors will cry out 24/7 for the release of God’s promises. Ezekiel also spoke of “spiritual walls” consisting of prayer (Ezek. 13:3–5; 22:30). God will establish end-time watchmen-intercessors in their place to function as a “wall of prayer.” These watchmen are to “make the wall” by standing in the gap in prayer before God and the people, so that the land may be blessed rather than destroyed.
Are you grasping the gravity of this promise? Through Isaiah, God promised sovereignly to appoint intercessors and establish them in the work of intercession that will never stop until Jesus returns. This will include full-time occupational intercessors who will stand on the wall of intercession to cry out for God’s purposes for Jerusalem.
Prophetic Missionaries in the New Testament
Some ask where prophetic missionaries are found in the New Testament. My response: Where in the New Testament do we find leaders who do not prioritize the voice of God? Starting with Jesus and the apostles, the New Testament highlights many leaders who gave themselves to prayer in an extravagant way.
Jesus spent long hours in prayer (Mk. 1:35; 6:46; Lk. 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28). Jesus valued Mary of Bethany’s choice to sit before Him; He called it the one thing needed (Lk. 10:38–42). He emphasized prayer, or “watching,” more than any other specific activity when speaking about the generation in which He would return (Mt. 24:42–43; 25:13; Mk. 13:9, 33-38; Lk. 21:36; Rev. 3:3; 16:15).
Paul embraced night-and-day prayer in various seasons and called widows to this ministry (1 Thes. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:5; 2 Tim. 1:3). John the Baptist spent a lot of time communing with the Lord in the wilderness of Judea (Mt. 3), and the apostles were committed to their prayer lives as well (Acts 6:4). An angel explained to Cornelius, a man who “prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2), that his continual prayers were a memorial before God (Acts 10:4).
Prayer was a high priority to the leaders in the New Testament (Acts 1:14, 24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:31; 6:4; 9:11; 10:2, 9, 30-31; 11:5; 12:5, 12; 13:3; 14:23; 16:16, 25; Rom. 8:26; 10:1; 12:12; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 1:11; 9:14; 13:7-9; Eph. 1:17-19; 3:14-20; 6:18; Phil. 1:4, 9-11; 4:6; Col. 1:3, 9-11; 4:2-3; 1 Thes. 3:10; 5:17, 25; 2 Thes. 1:11; 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:8; 4:5; Heb. 13:18; Jas. 5:13-18; Jude 20). Consider just a few of the many statements reflecting the value of prayer in the New Testament (Acts 2:42; 6:4; 12:12; 1 Thes. 3:10; 5:17).
They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship… and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)
It is easy to find leaders in the New Testament who were consistently engaging in prayer and the Word; it is actually difficult to find a precedent for leaders who did not do this. God’s kingdom work is accomplished in the place of prayer and outside of it: three dimensions of missions work—continual prayer, mercy deeds, and sharing the gospel—must go together. Prayer causes the work of outreach to the lost and needy to be much more effective. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
Some are concerned that intercessory missionaries may develop lazy, isolated lives in prayer, detached from the real needs of people. Anyone who has prayed four hours in one day, with fasting, and then gone out to preach the gospel, will know that the call to be an intercessory missionary is not for lazy people. Some ask if too much prayer leads intercessors to neglect walking in love for others. I have observed just the opposite.
Night-and-day prayer is a practical expression of the commandment to love one another, through which multitudes are blessed and delivered. Intercessors also grow in love for the ones they take up in prayer. When someone has a family member who is being tormented by a demon, that family member needs someone to cast the demon out. Jesus linked greater effectiveness in casting out demons to prayer and fasting. He spoke of the need for prayer and fasting when ministering to certain kinds of demonized people (Mt 17:21). In other words, the rigorous lifestyle of an intercessory missionary is one that embraces the first and second commandments to love God and others.
The Anna Calling
Anna was a “watchman” who was set upon the wall in Jerusalem. We see an expression of Isaiah’s prophecy in Anna, who prayed in the temple night and day (Isa. 62:6; Lk. 2:36–38). She was a token of what will happen across the nations during the generation in which the Lord returns.
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess… She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day… she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of [Jesus] to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Lk 2:36–38)
Notice that Anna was a prophetess (v. 36), intercessor (v. 37), and evangelist (v. 38). The grace for prophetic ministry, intercession, and evangelism came together in one woman. Anna was widowed after living with her husband for seven years (v. 36), probably when she was in her mid-twenties, and that is when she began giving herself to prayer day and night. At eighty-four years old—approximately sixty years later—she was still ministering to the Lord in much prayer with fasting. Anna stayed faithful in her calling to long hours of prayer! What a remarkable woman! Anna represents those with the grace to sustain long hours of prayer for many years. Anna’s calling transcends gender and age—this calling is for male and female, young and old. I refer to some intercessory missionaries as having a specific “Anna calling,” by which I mean they have grace for much prayer and fasting.
Anna is the most extreme example of the intercessory missionary lifestyle in the New Testament. She probably spent more hours in prayer each day than we ask our intercessory missionaries to do. In this very hour, the Lord is wooing those with a heart and calling like Anna to the full-time occupation of worship and prayer. He is personally appointing and setting them into their places. The Lord is calling forth modern-day “Annas” in churches and prayer rooms around the world. Those whom God raises up as “Annas” we must celebrate as a great gift to the Body of Christ and the prayer movement. These individuals need to be called forth, recognized, and released by their leaders to obey their God-given mandate.
Jesus made a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy about day-and-night prayer when He promised that it would result in a great release of justice to the earth (Lk. 18:1–8).
Shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night? He will bring about justice for them… When the Son of Man comes [second coming], will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:7–8, NAS)
In verse 8, Jesus connected the call to night-and-day prayer to the timing of His return to the earth. It is important to notice that this parable was given in conclusion to what He had just taught about the end times in Luke 17:22–36. In other words, He connected His release of justice in the earth during the end times to night-and-day prayer, and, in verse 8, Jesus referred to the generation in which He returns.
Prophetic Missionaries throughout History
The Lord has led many throughout history to establish night-and-day prayer ministries. Looking back through church history I see a golden thread of the Spirit testifying that this is on God’s heart. Although it is clear that the Holy Spirit has not emphasized this calling to the whole Body of Christ through the 2,000 years of church history, He has clearly called some to this ministry. Thus, we see a witness of night-and-day prayer down the centuries, a testimony that God desires this kind of extravagant ministry from His people.
The order of worship that God commanded David to establish—full-time singers and musicians in God’s house—is timeless and valid today, but the application of this command differs according to each generation and culture.
Throughout 2,000 years of church history, intercessory missionaries have been known by different titles. However, we see the biblical values behind this occupation in that they did the work of missions from a lifestyle of being deeply engaged in prayer, worship, and the Word.
One of the most dramatic expressions of 24/7 intercessory prayer began with Comgall, a monk in Bangor, Ireland, in AD 558. After Comgall’s death in AD 602, the annals reported that 3,000 monks had joined his monastery that maintained a 24/7 prayer ministry for over 300 years. It became an influential missions-sending community, famous for its choral psalmody and unceasing prayer.
In those days, most of the people who sustained 24/7 prayer ministries did so as their full-time occupation; therefore, I refer to them as “intercessory missionaries,” although they themselves did not use that term. Most who embraced this calling in medieval times were monks, priests, or nuns who lived in monastic communities.
Most monastic communities that sustained 24/7 prayer were involved in outreach to the cities nearby. Ministries from all streams of the Body of Christ have mobilized 24/7 prayer ministries, including those with Celtic, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions.
Around AD 380, Alexander established a monastery that maintained 24/7 worship and prayer. He organized rotating choirs into shifts to create uninterrupted prayer and worship twenty-four hours a day. He first organized this perpetual praise near the Euphrates River, where it lasted for twenty years. Then he and seventy monks moved to Constantinople in AD 400, where another 300 monks joined them to once again organize 24/7 prayer with praise, which lasted much longer this time as a movement. Since their prayer with praise never stopped, their group was referred to as “the order of the Acoemetae” (literally, the sleepless ones).
After Alexander’s death in AD 430, the monastery’s influence grew until, at the end of the fifth century, it housed over 1,000 monks committed to day-and-night prayer—intercessory missionaries. They sang hymns and doxologies throughout the night and day. Similar ministries of 24/7 prayer and psalmodic, choral praise were established in other monasteries at that time along the Euphrates and in Persia.
In AD 433, St. Patrick returned to Ireland (having been enslaved on the island previously) to preach the gospel. In the twelfth century, the monk Jocelin reported that Patrick had come to a valley on the shores of the Belfast Lough where he and his comrades beheld a vision of heaven. Jocelin wrote, “They beheld the valley filled with heavenly light, and with a multitude of heaven, they heard, as chanted forth from the voice of angels, the psalmody of the celestial choir.” From then on, this place near Bangor was known as “The Valley of Angels.”
Approximately one hundred years later, Comgall established Bangor monastery in that exact valley. Over three thousand monks joined him in a full-time way, and together they maintained a 24/7 house of prayer with worship that continued for more than 300 years. Comgall’s monastery at Bangor practiced continuous worship that was antiphonal in nature and based on Patrick’s vision.
In the twelfth century, Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of Comgall and Bangor, stating that “the solemnization of divine offices was kept up by companies, who relieved each other in succession, so that not for one moment was there an intermission.”
These monks, through practicing continual prayer and worship, were stirred to evangelize the lost wherever they went. They were sent out from Bangor as missionaries to Europe. Wherever they settled, they first established constant praise and adoration to God, and their mission work flowed from a foundation of prayer.
These intercessory missionaries were sent to preach the gospel throughout Europe, leading multitudes to Jesus. Examples abound. For instance, Colombanus set out from Bangor with twelve brothers to plant monasteries that combined prayer and mission work throughout Switzerland. Another, St. Martin, practiced continual antiphonal worship and established monasteries throughout Gaul (France).
Around AD 522, in Switzerland, Abbot Ambrosius organized choirs of monks who sang the Psalms in rotating shifts, continuing day and night. They continued for nearly four hundred years, until around AD 900, impacting monasteries all over France and Switzerland. These intercessory missionaries were effective in preaching the gospel and impacting many for Jesus.
Around AD 1000, the monastery at Cluny in central France sustained 24/7 prayer with worship, because they were convinced that by doing so they were participating in the very worship of heaven, as seen in Revelation 4. Hundreds of monastic communities throughout Europe followed the example of Cluny by embracing 24/7 prayer with worship. Thus the Cluny community was catalytic in raising up intercessory missionaries who established houses of prayer as monastic communities, doing the work of the kingdom.
Bernard of Clairvaux
Just after AD 1100, Bernard, together with his seven hundred monks in Clairvaux, France, organized into day-and-night prayer that continued for many years, resulting in a dynamic release of evangelism through signs and wonders across Europe. Bernard promoted continual prayer; reports from visitors to the monastery at Clairvaux speak of the monks singing their prayers through the night and working in silent meditation through the day.
The Moravians and Count Zinzendorf
In 1727, Count Zinzendorf, a young and wealthy German nobleman, committed his estate in Germany to twenty-four-hour-a-day prayer ministry. He renamed his estate Herrnhut, which means “the watch of the Lord.” About 300 persecuted believers moved from Bohemia to Zinzendorf’s estate, forming the Herrnhut community. At that time, Zinzendorf gave up his court position to lead this new ministry.
They committed to pray in hourly shifts around the clock, all day and night, every day, taking inspiration from Leviticus 6:13, “The fire must be kept burning; it must not go out.” This prayer meeting continued non-stop for the next hundred years. From the prayer room at Herrnhut came a missionary zeal that has hardly been surpassed in Protestant history. By 1776, over two hundred missionaries had been sent out from this small community at Herrnhut. These were the first Protestant intercessory missionaries.
Zinzendorf became the leader of the first Protestant missionary movement in history. He sent out missionaries, two by two, to the unreached people groups of the earth. As they were sent out, the prayer furnace back home in Herrnhut covered them in prayer. The first Protestant missionary movement married the prayer aspect of the Great Commission with evangelism. Count Zinzendorf saw prayer and missions as inseparable.
Throughout history we see many examples of an irrefutable principle in God’s kingdom—in God’s timing, the establishing of night-and-day prayer brings revival in the Church, which leads to significant evangelistic zeal and effectiveness in bringing unbelievers to faith in Jesus. This principle is seen in the fruit of the labors of the historical monastic prayer communities that led multitudes of people to Jesus.
What do Prophetic Missionaries do in Prayer Rooms?
We minister to God by declaring His worth unceasingly, reflecting the way He receives worship continually in heaven (Mt. 6:10). We magnify the supremacy of Jesus, spreading His fame by declaring His worth, beauty, and riches, calling others to love and obey Him and give their allegiance to Him. Millions of people across the nations join the choirs of heaven by ministering to God in this way. He is worthy.
We labor in intercession for the release of God’s power to win the lost, revive the Church, and impact society, while also engaging in works of justice and compassion.
We grow in intimacy with God by personally encountering Him through His indwelling Spirit, receiving greater grace (Jas. 4:6) to love, obey, and partner with Him, as we are fascinated by who He is.
We grow in the understanding of God’s Word, gaining insight into His will, ways, and salvation and learning about the unique dynamics of His end-time plan to transition the earth to the age to come. We serve others in an important way by taking the time and effort to grow in our understanding of the Word, that we may help others understand God’s heart and will for this hour of history.
The Prophetic Movement Today
The Holy Spirit has raised up thousands of new prophetic ministries in the last ten to twenty years. In 1984, the number of 24/7 houses of prayer in the world was fewer than twenty-five. Today there are over ten thousand—and most of that growth has been in the last ten years; they are springing up all over the globe at a staggering rate. Such momentum in prayer cannot be attributed to human ingenuity, but must rather be the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.
The significant increase of new 24/7 prayer ministries and of large prayer events in stadiums is a prophetic sign of the times—a sign of the approaching day of the Lord’s return. In cities around the world, new 24/7 prayer ministries are being established. From Kiev, Bogota, and Jerusalem to New Zealand, Cairo, Cape Town, and Hong Kong, men and women are responding to the Spirit’s leadership in this.
Despite the pressures and inherent dangers, we see 24/7 prayer centers coming forth in the Muslim world, in nations like Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Indonesia, and Lebanon.
God’s desire to be worshiped on earth as He is in heaven has not changed. I believe that some of the principles expressed in the order of worship that God commanded David to embrace are timeless, such as establishing the full-time occupation of singers and musicians in God’s house.
Not everyone is called to be an prophetic missionary. The greatest ministry is to do the will of God. In other words, the greatest ministry you can have is the one to which God calls you. If He has called you to serve in the marketplace or in your home, don’t despise your calling by imitating the ministry of another. We must embrace our own, individual calling, because that is the highest calling for us.
The Holy Spirit has not emphasized the calling to night-and-day worship and prayer worldwide throughout church history, but is now calling many ministries to embrace it. I do not believe that it is God’s will for every local church or ministry to host 24/7 worship in their own building, but that He plans to establish it in each city or region of the earth. This can happen if many local churches partner together in the work of night-and-day prayer. The practical application will differ from city to city and from nation to nation, as well as according to different cultures.
Many are asking the Lord to establish 24/7 prayer with worship in every tribe and tongue before the Lord returns, by bringing multiple ministries together in unity to accomplish the work in every region of the earth. Imagine a missions movement that reaches every tribe and tongue, with the gospel being preached in every language, deeply connected to 24/7 prayer with worship.
Will you join me in asking the Lord to establish one million full-time prophetic missionaries before the Lord returns—singers, musicians, sound technicians, intercessors, and gatekeepers maintaining the systems that support these prayer ministries?For some of you, this is your calling—your personal story is deeply linked to God’s plan related to the end-time prayer movement. What a glorious privilege!