Reprinted from Charisma News Service.

A nationally recognized prayer leader has called for a massive prayereffort to tip the scales at next month's presidential elections. Churchesare being urged to turn entire services over to intercession in one ofseveral prayer initiatives spotlighting the close-fought race for the WhiteHouse.

Dutch Sheets, a pastor and well-known teacher on prayer and intercession,issued his prayer alert last week after being touched with "the greatestprayer burden I have ever experienced." In an e-mail message now beingdistributed widely, he said that the Nov. 6 election would be "the mostcritical in decades."

Sheets warned that without enough prayer, "God's person" will lose theelection "and the turning of this nation will be drastically delayed." Hesaid that "God's man"--whom he did not identify--wasn't as readyspiritually to take the nation where God wanted as he was prepared with "aheart upon which God can effectively move."

Senior pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colo., arespected conference speaker and author of the top selling "IntercessoryPrayer," Sheets said: "I believe if the election was held now, God'spurposes would not be established. In fact, the results would be such thatHis purposes for this nation would be set back for many, many years--possibly decades."

Recognizing that he "could sound presumptuous," Sheets said that God"witnessed to my heart that one of the greatest prayer efforts in thehistory of our nation must be mobilized immediately. The amount of prayerthat would normally be done for the election is absolutely not enough."Sheets said that he had never issued such an alert before, but felt heshould after sharing his thoughts with other national leaders.

His appeal urges pastors to incorporate "significant amounts of prayerinto church services," even turning entire meetings over to intercession. Italso suggests additional prayer meetings and a national fast during thefinal 21 days before voters go to the polls, running from Oct. 17 throughNov. 6.

Sheets--whose alert was endorsed by another noted prayer leader, ChuckPierce, the vice president of Global Harvest Ministries--said that Godcould "remove kings and set up kings," as the book of Daniel declares. But"it will be realized, however, only if we heed this imperative call tointensified, fervent prayer."

Sheets' alarm is being echoed by a pastor's wife from Minneapolis.Together with a friend, Tracey Stillman has launched Pray at the Polls 2000,encouraging Christians to take a moment to pray for the country and theoutcome of the election when they place their vote. She said that the ideacame to her in a dream in which God impressed upon her the crucialimportance of the election.

The initiative is being picked up in Minneapolis and other parts of thecountry after being mentioned at a national prayer leaders' conference."It's a rallying point, like See You at the Pole for teenagers," saidStillman. "It's getting Christians to pray for America, that God would causethe leader to be the one that He needs to have."

Churches in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., area have canceledthe scheduled speakers and scrapped registration fees for a capital prayerconference later this month to focus instead on three days of open-to-allpre-voting intercession.

Organizers said: "Critical times call for criticalmeasures.... There possibly may never be a more critical time for our nationthan at this hour."