Sandy Grady, international prayer coordinator for Wall Builders and a regional director for the Strategic Prayer Network, moved to the area in 1974 with a similar call to pray for the government and its leaders. In addition to teaching groups how to pray for our government, Grady often conducts prayer walks throughout the city, leads prayer tours in the Capitol and spearheads on-site "swat teams" of intercessors for strategic prayer battles in the city.

"When I first started praying in the city, I hardly saw anyone else here praying," Grady remembers. "But now people come to our nation's capital all the time just to pray on-site. Recently, I was in front of the Supreme Court building and overheard two people sitting on the steps quietly praying. I introduced myself and found out they were both airline employees from Fort Worth, who felt led to come to D.C. for the day and to pray in front of the Supreme Court."

Ken Wilde, pastor of Capital Christian Center in Boise, Idaho, has been bringing groups of intercessors to Washington to pray on-site for the last five years. Boosted by the fact that his church is home to former Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage, Wilde speaks to pastors and churches across the nation, encouraging them to pray for our leaders.

Just last year Wilde's church founded the National Prayer Center in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of on-site prayer. Forty groups of intercessors from various churches are scheduled to come to the center in 2001.

Other prayer houses remain hidden throughout the city, hosting local and out-of-town guests who come to pray. Many, like Hanna Ness, 20, say that coming to Washington to pray has given them a new passion and love for the country. "I believe God loves this nation and that He isn't going to let it go," Ness says. Many local church groups and ministries also regularly pray at various sites in the District. Intercessory groups from churches in Maryland and Virginia have networked together and often prayer-walked Capitol Hill and other areas of the city.

Pastors Dennis and Donna Pisani of Glory Tabernacle Church in Washington have made prayer a priority since they established their church in 1992. "From the very beginning we felt God say that He was going to move from the streets of D.C. to the corridors of the Capitol," Donna says.

Art and Sharon Snow, pastors of Brentwood Foursquare Church in Bladensburg, Maryland, are helping churches encircle the city in prayer with their Prayer Around the Beltway guide. Art says the impetus behind this prayer guide came from a historic battle in the War of 1812 that was fought in his backyard. During this battle, American troops retreated and opened up the corridor into Washington, allowing the British to enter and burn the city. Believing that God wanted to change this corridor from a place of retreat to a place of advance, Snow drove the entire 64-mile beltway around the city, recording specific prayer focuses for each of the 38 exits.

Intercession leaders say it was an answer to prayer when bad weather prompted the use of a Bush family Bible at the recent presidential inauguration rather than a 1767 King James edition used by George Washington and several other presidents. Several ministries had issued prayer alerts about the Masonic Bible--the one traditionally used when a new president is sworn into office--warning that it could have spiritual consequences because of the movement's secret rituals linked to the occult. But just before the ceremony began, representatives of the New York Masonic Lodge that owns the Bible decided it was too fragile to be exposed to the inclement weather. Intercessory prayer teams view the incident as evidence that prayer is bringing change in the spiritual climate of the capital.

The spiritual landscape in Washington has not always been as fertile as it is today. Ruth Cox Mizell remembers it being a desert 20 years ago. When former President George H.W. Bush ran for the Senate in 1964 in Texas, Mizell served as his campaign manager. "Those were very lonely years back then," Mizell says, "with not a lot of prayer going on in the capital."

Later, when Bush won his vice-presidential election, he asked Mizell what she would like to do in Washington. "I'd just like to pray for you," she told Bush.

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