Since the early years of ministry outreach, prayer has been foundational. During the years of Street Ministry to Houston’s inner city, a group of ministers and their teams would meet at The Refuge on Westheimer. It was aptly referred to as The Upper Room. After prayer, the teams of young evangelists and young adults from a cross-section of Greater Houston area churches would descend on the streets taking the love of Christ to the lost. Through the bumper to bumper traffic both on the street and at the clubs, we saw the answer to our prayers in the face of each young person with whom we shared Jesus.
Driven by a burning love for the Lord and compelled to snatch souls from hell’s grips, Doug Stringer led teams to pray and distribute tracts at rock concerts. We called these prayer rallies “Jericho Marches.” One of Houston’s largest concert sites has now become home of one of the nation’s largest churches. In the late 1980s Doug began to share about the importance of pulling down spiritual strongholds over a city, a region, and the nation. “Jericho Drives” around Houston’s major highways engaged people from different denominations and ethnic backgrounds in prayer and worship as they caravanned around the city.
In 1996 the ministry hosted Houston Prayer Mountain in which prayer and intercession took on an even deeper meaning. For 40 days and nights people from around the city and world gathered for worship, prayer, more worship and more prayer. We collected prayer requests cards during these meetings, and sometimes we would spread them out on a table where Doug would lay on them, weeping and praying…and we would see miraculous answers to prayer.
In the 1990s, targeted prayer initiatives occurred that linked churches and ministries. We called this Prayer with a Purpose, reaching at-risk youth and those involved in gangs, praying for our neighbors, and praying for pastors and ministry leaders throughout the region.
God took the burden of local pastors, and we began asking people to adopt one square mile of the Greater Houston area in prayer through “Occupy The Land.” Gang intervention strategies were effective; churches were serving together; and relationships were built that would continue as part of the original Somebody Cares Greater Houston network.
On an on-going basis, TPMI allows prayer ministries in the city to use their office space. Transform World Houston in 2008 is one example. A group of leaders in the city were charged with organizing prayer leading up to and during the Transform World gathering. During this time a prayer team was established that has continued to pray and intercede for the ministry, the city, nation and world even today! In 2011, this same team facilitated prayer coordination for The Response, a call to prayer and fasting for a nation in crisis. Through the global relationship equity the ministry has developed over the years, we mobilized a nationwide and international prayer task force to pray for the August 6 event in Houston. During that weekend, over 200 prayer leaders and intercessors conducted a prayer walk around the stadium, read through the Bible twice in the stadium and prayed on site throughout the stadium during the day. Over 40,000 believers gathered in Reliant Stadium for this monumental event. Doug Stringer served as the National Mobilization Coordinator for the 2011 event, and in 2015 served as the Coordinator for Response events in Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida. And The Response Prayer Task Force continues to grow!
And prayer continues! It is a foundational part of our DNA. We see prayer as a part of who we are. It is not just what we do.