Convinced the nation is in a "desperate situation," many evangelical Christians are praying that God will intervene in the presidential election recount, and some are even suggesting they shift to prayer "warfare" to prevent voter fraud.

On evangelical e-mail lists and websites, Christian leaders called on followers nationwide to intensify a three-week-long vigil of fasting and prayer for "God's man" to be elected president.

Intercessors for America, a network of evangelicals who pray for politicians, encouraged Christians to pray that "calm will prevail" during the recount, according to Charisma News Service, a Pentecostal news organization.

"Pray against fraud and the appearance of evil...that the Lord would thwart any who would subvert or deceive as the recount progresses," IFA advised.

This appeal for Christians to keep praying is just the latest salvo in a massive prayer war aimed at swaying the contest between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

When they pray publicly, few evangelicals mention specific names, and some don't specify a candidate even in their private prayers, but there can be little doubt that among most white and some black evangelicals Bush is the man.

God "works outside of time," Bishop Wellington Boone said Wednesday during an interview with Religion Today, another evangelical news service.

The Florida recount is just a pause for prayer and repentance, a time "for God to look at which side would be humble enough to plead with Him to get his will done," said Boone, who heads the Fellowship of International Churches.

"Whether you name names or not, God knows what's in our hearts," said Orlando's Sharris Pike, who did entreat the Lord specifically on Bush's behalf.

Tuesday night, when Florida's votes fell into contention, her daughter Stephanie began praying for a proper vote count.

"I wanted with all my heart to pray 'Lord let justice and righteousness triumph and George Bush win.' [But] I do want the man the American people elected to be in. I wouldn't want my man to win by faulty counting," she said.

This election has spurred calls for massive prayer efforts across the nation.

Colorado Springs Pastor Dutch Sheets said he wept harder than he ever knew was possible before issuing a national warning. "If there is not enough prayer, God's person will lose the election and the turning of this nation [toward God] will be drastically delayed," he wrote in a prayer alert released over the internet.

A Minneapolis minister's wife, Tracey Stillman, was quoted as saying a dream convinced her that she, too, must rally evangelical Christian prayer warriors. Her "Pray at the Polls 2000" effort asked people to pray as they cast their votes.

Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer, called for a day of prayer and fasting while urging Christians to remind at least two people to vote Nov. 7.

Last weekend, 1,200 people gathered at Orlando's First Baptist Church for Fasting & Prayer 2000. Nearly 2 million people prayed at an annual satellite, radio, and internet broadcast sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, Mission America, and Woerner World Ministries. The Rev. Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition sent out 70 million voter guides.

On Tuesday night, as success seemed to belong first to one candidate and then the other, Stephanie Pike prayed with renewed vigor. "If I weren't a Christian I don't know how I would have been able to handle the kind of stress I felt last night," she said the day after the election.

Church members at Father's House in Atlanta, Ga., will meet Friday night for intercessory prayer. "Certainly, that's going to be focusing in on our nation," said Bishop Garland Hunt, vice president of Boone's ministry, which is headquartered in Atlanta. Hunt, who is African-American, said that while blacks traditionally vote Democratic, his congregation doesn't fit that mold.

"We say, 'Don't vote culture. Vote biblical,'" he said, adding that opposition to abortion is of central importance, but other issues of compassion also influence voters in his church.

Brad Smith, president of Dallas' Leadership Network, thinks the 10-day waiting period for Florida's overseas ballots to be counted will spur evangelicals on. "I bet you will get some prayer meetings being organized on Sunday afternoon," said Mr. Smith, whose group links Christian organizations across the nation.

That could mean Bush's name will be on a thousand praying tongues.

All the Christians whom Mary Jean Tures knows voted for Bush, she said. "When we met as a group to pray, no one said Bush, but I knew they were thinking Bush," said Mrs. Tures, who is white, lives in Little Rock, Ark., and works for a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ. Aloud, she and her friends prayed only that God would put Christians in office.

Although both Vice President Al Gore and Bush are Christians and church members, many white evangelicals seemed to use the word Christian as though it applies only to Bush. Many mention the issue of legalized abortion, which Bush opposes and Gore supports, as the hallmark of a true Christian.

Julia Simmon-Moore would not go that far. Only God can see into people's hearts and know where their allegiance lies, said Mrs. Simmon-Moore, who lives in Rockford, Ill. "It just really bothers me when I hear [mocking] things said against either candidate," she said.

Although she and her friends voted for Bush, and she believes strongly that abortion is wrong, Mrs. Simmon-Moore said she fasted on Tuesday and prayed for both candidates and their marriages.

"We repented for the apathy that we'd had in different elections and we repented for the things we'd said against the presidency," she said. "We just prayed that God would have his way with the presidency."

And she believes that will happen. "I don't think God is wringing his hands over this election. He knew who was going to win," she said.

That could be either candidate, she admitted. "I know God heard our prayers. If he doesn't answer the way we would like, it's because he sees the bigger picture," she said.

"If Bush doesn't win, then I would say that God has given us what we deserve," said Stephanie Pike. She and the others said they never doubt that God is sovereign and that his will will be done.

"I know that if Al Gore wins, God put him there," she said. "God may be planning to use Al Gore in ways we can't imagine."

Other evangelicals echoed her words, but not everyone was quite as sanguine as someone who posted Nov. 8 on James Dobson's Focus on the Family website. A man who identified himself only as Bill wrote, "If, in fact, Al Gore is declared the winner, socialism is the winner. More babies will die before ever breathing one breath of air. More rights will be taken from each of us. I cry for each of us, I pray for our country. God help every one of us."
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