Behind-the-scenes prayer is having a growing impact in the nation's capital, according to ministry leaders whoreport a spiritual renewal among politicians and policy advisers in Washington, D.C.

Long-term staffers on Capitol Hill "will tell you that there is indeed a kind of spiritual revival takingplace," says Frank Wright, director of the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Leadership. "I would saythere has been at least a tenfold increase in spiritual interest in the last 15 years."

Around 30 Bible study and prayer groups attended by members of Congress and staff meet on Capitol Hill, withmembership ranging from a handful to between 50 and 60. More than a dozen ministries have been formed toencourage prayer for the city and its decisionmakers.

"When I first started praying in the city, I hardly saw anyone else here praying," says Sandy Grady, who movedto the area in 1974 to pray for the government and its leaders. "But now people come to our nation's capitalall the time just to pray on-site."

Capital Christian Center in Boise, Idaho, last year founded the National Prayer Center in Washington, D.C., toenable visiting Christians to pray in the capital. Pastor Ken Wilde has brought groups of intercessors to thecapital to pray on location for the last five years.

Art and Sharon Snow, pastors of Brentwood Foursquare Church in Bladensburg, Md., produced the Prayer Aroundthe Beltway guide to focus encircling intercession on the city. "As more and more churches come together inprayer.the powers over the city will fall," they say.

The rising level of prayer has not been without opposition. Pat Mahoney, executive director of the ChristianDefense Coalition, has been arrested more than 25 times in the last nine years for holding prayer gatheringsand carrying signs on the steps of the Supreme Court building. He is now banned from coming within 50 feet,but helps organize vigils for others.

In another initiative, national prayer leaders have issued a renewed call to prayer for President Bush. Beforethe inauguration, Intercessors for America urged prayer over the "Year Zero Curse," which some say links theuntimely death of the president in office every 20 years between 1840 and 1980 to a Native American prophecy.

While many believe the curse was broken by prayer in 1981 when President Reagan survived an assassinationattempt, U.S. Prayer Center directors Eddie and Alice Smith issued a "code red prayer alert" this week afterhearing independently from several intercessors.

Each had written of dreams "in which George W. Bush appeared to have been assassinated," the Smiths said. Manyof the dreams featured the Texas state flower, the Bluebonnet, which is in bloom until the end of May. TheSmiths said this was "a critical time for urgent intercession.

"Just as America's Secret Service takes seriously every threat on our president's life, we who serve God asintercessory prayer warriors must take these warnings seriously as well."

The full story of prayer in Washington, D.C. is told in the May issue of "Charisma," out next week.

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