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A Catalyst for Awakening: The AG World Prayer Center Connects Prayer and Evangelism

In order to see a sweeping spiritual transformation in America, prayer is where it must begin.
Located in a modest building across the street from the Assemblies of God national office in Springfield, Missouri, the World Prayer Center has an audacious mission: “To establish a place of prayer that creates an atmosphere which gives birth to the miraculous and empowers evangelism and discipleship around the world.”

The first thing visitors notice upon entry is the 600-square-foot, high-definition LED floor. Connected to the internet, this floor can project any location Google has mapped, allowing visitors to take virtual prayer walks through neighborhoods in the U.S. and around the world.

This visual aid provides a creative way for visitors to intercede for the salvation of people from their own cities or from places they may never be able to visit personally.

“Praying on that floor was like Paul seeing the vision of a man from Macedonia calling them to come there,” says Ronnie Morris, district superintendent of the Arkansas Assemblies of God. “It was a catalyzing moment in the spiritual atmosphere of the Arkansas district.”

Joe Oden, an Assemblies of God U.S. missionary with U.S. Specialized, serves as director of the World Prayer Center, as well as the AG’s national prayer and evangelism director. He is a firm believer in the connection between prayer and evangelism.

As Oden explains in his new book, “Prayer ignites revival, and it is the catalyst for every spiritual awakening.”

The book, titled, Prayer That Ignites Revival, is a revision of Oden’s doctor of ministry project at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield. Published in April 2024 by Chosen, it mines the Bible and church history for lessons about what God’s people must do to see their churches revived and the nation awakened to the gospel.

Oden summarizes those lessons in 10 commitments Christians should make, such as “I want to see an awakening,” “I will confess the sins of my nation,” “I will cooperate with the Holy Spirit,” and “I will possess a heart for the lost.”

These lessons are not academic for Oden. He was a drug addict as a young man. Three rounds of rehab didn’t cure his addiction. In 1996, he was arrested for drug possession, and a judge ordered him to attend church as part of a diversion plan.

On April 27, 1997, a team from the Brownsville Revival ministered at the church Oden was attending. He was saved, delivered, and called into ministry in one fell swoop. Oden immediately enrolled in the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and has been an evangelist ever since.

Oden believes that kind of radical transformation is sorely needed in America today. Citing various social ills such as abortion, racism, sexual immorality, and violence, he says, “We have lost our ability to blush at sin,” referring to Jeremiah 6:15. “The only way that’s going to be restored is human cooperation through prayer, and God’s sovereign outpouring to bring conviction, His presence, and the fear of the Lord back to the nation.”

The ministry of the World Prayer Center focuses on the human side of this equation. As director, Oden leads the center’s three key initiatives. In addition to providing a place of prayer at its Springfield location, the center mobilizes prayer missionaries and trains churches for prayer ministry.

Prayer missionaries are fully appointed with AG U.S. Missions. Currently, 15 are itinerating, but Oden hopes to raise up an army of intercessors. They go to churches to lead events where ministers and laypeople grow in their understanding and practice of prayer.

These events are known as “retreats” and “sieges.” The focus of a prayer retreat is general training about prayer, especially intercession. Training sessions, which last one to three days, are customizable to a church’s needs.

A prayer siege is more intensive. It is a 10-day event in which missionaries travel to a church and lead the congregation in prayer and fasting. During a Friday evening “encounter service,” church members believe God for miracles and spiritual breakthroughs.

Additionally, the prayer siege includes evangelism training, so church members can share the love of God with people in their community.

“The Prayer Siege elevated the entire prayer culture in our church and for all the participating pastors,” says pastor George Sawyer of Calvary Assembly in Decatur, Alabama. “We continue to hear testimonies of healing, and the spiritual impact in all areas of our ministries continue to be felt.”

Inspiration for prayer sieges comes from the ministry of famed American evangelist Charles G. Finney. In Prayer That Ignites Revival, Oden notes that “Father” Daniel Nash went to a city three to four weeks before Finney’s meetings began to engage in daily 12-hour sessions of prayer, often with other seasoned intercessors. Finney then powerfully proclaimed the gospel to assembled audiences, often to great effect.

“These kinds of outbreaks aren’t meant to be confined to history,” Oden writes. “God desires to do the same thing again in this generation. We must therefore dedicate ourselves to prayer and obedience, like Nash and Finney.”

School of the Spirit is another training event coordinated by the World Prayer Center. Hosted by AG district councils/ministry networks, this day-long seminar focuses on helping believers encounter the Holy Spirit and equipping them to operate in the spiritual gifts. Oden, AG Assistant General Superintendent Rick DuBose, and professor Carolyn Tennant are the primary teachers of this seminar.

“The School of the Spirit far exceeded our expectations,” says Don Miller, superintendent of the Southern Missouri Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God. “The teachers stirred hunger in our ministers for a genuine move of the Spirit and educated us on stewarding that move. We came away refreshed and challenged.”

To learn more about the Assemblies of God World Prayer Center, or to schedule a visit, go to PrayerCenter.AG.org.

This article appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Influence magazine. Used with permission.

George P. Wood

George P. Wood is executive editor of Assemblies of God Publications, including Influence magazine, and coordinator of Religious Freedom Initiatives for the national office of the Assemblies of God. A prolific writer and popular speaker, Wood is an ordained AG minister and is the son of former AG General Superintendent George O. Wood.