As war with Iraq seems to draw closer, Christians have been urged to join in a worldwide day of prayer, next Monday.
The appeal has gone out from the World Prayer Team network, based at the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., which says that the date 03-03-03 seems to have some special significance.
Churches and individual Christians are being asked to set aside at least three minutes to pray at precisely 3:33 p.m., local time.
WPT's office had been "flooded" with messages from Christians around the world who felt God was impressing on them the importance of prayer on March 3, and did not know others were saying the same thing, said President Ted Haggard.
"Clearly, the Holy Spirit is speaking to His church, and He is calling His people to pray," said Haggard. "Many believe there is significance to this date because of its numerical sequence which reminds many Christians of the Trinity."
Haggard also said that Jeremiah 33:3 had been highlighted as "our call to action, 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'"
The WPT appeal, being circulated widely by other prayer groups and movements, says that March 3 is also a significant date in the Muslim world, marking the eve of the Islamic New Year and the last day of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The day has also "gained widespread notoriety in New Age circles," with plans for a large "experiment into global consciousness," says WPT. March 3 sees the start of Gather the Women, a weeklong global initiative intended to "harness the power and wisdom of women for the benefit of all life."
The WPT alert says that "while all this is beneath the radars of the secular news media, it is clear to many Christian leaders that the world is on the brink of a spiritual battle of monumental proportions. The epicenter of this struggle is the Middle East – a battle is going on for Jerusalem and Babylon (Iraq), biblical centers of spiritual light and darkness."
Participants are being asked to pray that:
. "the armies of heaven will push back the powers of darkness in the Middle East."
. Saddam Hussein will leave the country "before war is required to remove him from power."
. if war cannot be avoided, "a spiritual shield will contain hostilities within the Iraqi borders, such that it doesn't spill over to the entire Islamic world."
. "weapons of mass destruction, if they are deployed on any side of the battle, will be powerless."
Meanwhile, leaders of the World Evangelical Alliance have called for special prayer over the Iraq situation. They said in a statement that they believed that "war or violence is almost always the worst solution for resolving conflict." They added: "Insofar as it is possible, all paths to peace should be explored."
At the Presidential Prayer Team, which has recruited 1.4 million people to pray for President Bush and his administration, an Adopt-a-Troop prayer effort has been launched.
Participants are given one of 50,000 names of military servicemen or women given to the PPT so far, with details of the branch of the military they serve in, and the name of their spouse and children. They can also print out a certificate with the details that can be posted somewhere to remind them to pray regularly.
By Albert H. Lee