On Friday, Jan. 3, while President Donald Trump was in Miami surrounded by political allies at the campaign launch of Evangelicals for Trump, prayer warriors gathered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where they heard about ambitious plans for a nationwide series of Christian prayer events in tents and stadiums designed to spark spiritual revival and evangelical activism.
The Friday night gathering was the closing session for Movement 2020, a conference that began three nights earlier on New Year’s Eve. In the cavernous Fredericksburg Expo Center, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 attendees listened to hours of preaching, prayer, and worship music. Participants were told that their songs and prayers would help bring “God’s government” to Earth. The event was organized by Awaken the Dawn, a Fredericksburg-based ministry that organized a tent city on the National Mall in 2017, simultaneous worship tent events in state capitals and campuses in 2018, and a similar tent events in hundreds of locations in 2019. Awaken the Dawn is one of many ministries that focus on intense worship designed to bring participants into the presence of God and love of Jesus, so they will help spark revival and societal “reformation.”
Groups mobilizing for mass public prayer and worship, like participants in Movement 2020, exist alongside other prayer projects like Intercessors for America, POTUS Shield, and Paula White’s One Voice Prayer Movement, which distribute conservative talking points in the form of prayer suggestions and “prayer points.” In the Summer 2014 issue of The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, scholar Cynthia Burack, who has examined the uses of prayer projects by the Christian right, noted that the use of “devotional rhetoric” and softer political messaging can make prayer projects less immediately identifiable as vehicles for the advancement of conservative political strategies than the efforts of traditional religious-right political groups like the Family Research Council.
Among the Movement 2020 participants and partners:
- Mike Bickle founded the International House of Prayer in Kansas City in 1999 as a place for continual 24-7 worship and prayer. His model of recruiting young people into ministries of continual worship has grown into a huge network of prayer houses across the U.S. and world. At Movement 2020, IHOP-KC sold books and other merch, and Bickle preached about biblical signs that we are living in the End Times generation, drawing from his book “God’s Answer to the Growing Crisis.” In that book, Bickle described the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling as “the opening of a door to enforce the systematic presentation of a demonically driven, immoral agenda upon future generations.” Bickle has warned that Christianity is being criminalized in America and has called Trump’s election “a huge reprieve from heaven” for American Christians. In 2018, Bickle declared that the world was at “the crossroads of history” and he ramped up the urgency of his warnings about increasing troubles, while adding that they come with increased “kingdom opportunities.” Bickle teaches that Christians have a role in determining how the End Times will unfold. Christian nationalist political operative David Lane has declared, “Mike Bickle is the greatest!”
- Dominionist Lou Engle, who has a long association with IHOP-KC, is best known for creating large-scale political prayer events under the banner of The Call, including one on the National Mall a few months before the 2000 elections and one in California in 2008 focused on passing Prop. 8 to ban marriage equality. At a 2010 The Call rally attended by Engle in Uganda, speakers endorsed a notorious kill-the-gays bill under consideration. While Engle did not endorse the bill, he praised local anti-gay activists who he said were taking “a stand for righteousness.” He later clarified that he does support the criminalization of homosexuality. Engle also founded the Justice House of Prayer in Washington, D.C., a home base for anti-abortion protesters at the Supreme Court. Engle has ledpublic prayers for God to knock off pro-choice Supreme Court justices so Trump can get more nominees to do away with Roe v. Wade. The Call has morphed into The Send, which calls itself “a national campaign to catalyze every believer into a lifestyle of Christ-like action.” The Send gathered 60,000 people in Orlando in February 2019 and has 2020 plans for events in Brazil and Argentina as well as Kansas City.
- At Movement 2020, Michael Miller, founder of UPPERROOM in Dallas, Texas, spoke about God having led him to create a prayer movement in the “homosexual” neighborhood of Dallas, even though he did not have “a heart” for homosexuals and got tired of getting hit on. But he said the group’s coffeeshop and worship in one of the spiritually “darkest” parts of the city is helping to “liberate” people from “bondage.” Much of the music at Movement 2020 was provided by UPPERROOM worship leaders, who led alternatively high-energy and trancelike worship songs that were as long as a west Texas highway, with choruses repeating phrases and themes that emerge during worship.
- Sean Feucht, a musician and worship leader at the influential and controversial northern California megachurch Bethel, is running for Congress and sees his campaignas a form of spiritual warfare. At Movement 2020, he led worship and promoted his candidacy while making a pitch for donations to cover the cost of the event. Feucht is founder of Burn 24-7, another youth-oriented prayer movement that was recruiting at Movement 2020. Burn 24-7’s online training school “equips students to live presence centered lifestyles and to pioneer expressions of night and day worship and prayer in their city.”
- David’s Tent is a worship tent that has been allowed to set up essentially permanently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as long as its organizers are able to keep it staffed 24-7. Visitors to David’s Tent can pick up prayer maps to Washington D.C. , that promote the Justice House of Prayer, the American Center for Prayer and Revival (across the street from the Supreme Court and next door to the American Center for Law and Justice), and the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, among others. The prayer guide, published by Every Home for Christ, urges readers to pray “that America will return to its roots in the Word of God” and that “God will shake the very foundations of our government in such a way as to remove that which displeases Him and to display His glory across our land.”
Engle, a spiritual godfather of sorts to younger prayer movement leaders, was advertised to be Friday night’s keynoter, but it was announced that evening that Engle wasn’t able to travel for health reasons. Engle instead recorded an encouraging but subdued video, a disappointment for those who had been looking forward to his trademark high-energy prayers and prophetic declarations.
In Engle’s absence, David Bradshaw delivered what had been billed as a special announcement revealing plans for 2020. Bradshaw described Awaken the Dawn as part of a larger move by God to bring the presence of God to Americans through “tents of glory” that would house worship, the proclamation of the gospel, and healing and other signs and wonders. Bradshaw mentioned, as he has before, that his tent ministry is based on having heard a word from God that tents are “a silver bullet for the move of God in America.”
The 2020 plan Bradshaw described on Friday night was presented as an effort to bring together worship and the proclamation of gospel in tents, and to align it with the season of “stadium Christianity” in America, which is about mobilizing a massive End Times “harvest” of souls.
Various movements and organizations will be collaborating on a traveling show that will begin on the National Mall in Washington D.C., in June with a Lincoln Memorial gathering led by Together 2020. Caravans of worship tents will then spend 100 days traveling across the country before convening in Kansas City on a farm once owned by Harry Truman and now owned by IHOP-KC. In October, participants will march from the Awaken the Dawn tent gathering on IHOP-KC’s land to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium for a massive stadium rally sponsored by The Send.
The October gatherings and march were described by Movement 2020 leaders as the fulfillment of a prophecy made decades ago by the late “prophet” Bob Jones, whose other prophetic utterances include the Gulliver prophecy. In 2016, Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries opened a Bob Jones Vision Center for “prayer, praise and prophecy.”
Bradshaw closed with a pitch for money to buy a 2000-person circus tent as a “statement of faith” and offered an opportunity for people to come forward to ask for prayers and healing.