Reprinted from Charisma News Service.

A nationally recognized prayer leader has called for a massive prayer effort to tip the scales at next month's presidential elections. Churches are being urged to turn entire services over to intercession in one of several prayer initiatives spotlighting the close-fought race for the White House.

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

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

Senior pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colo., a respected conference speaker and author of the top selling "Intercessory Prayer," Sheets said: "I believe if the election was held now, God's purposes would not be established. In fact, the results would be such that His 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 the history of our nation must be mobilized immediately. The amount of prayer that would normally be done for the election is absolutely not enough." Sheets said that he had never issued such an alert before, but felt he should after sharing his thoughts with other national leaders.

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

Sheets--whose alert was endorsed by another noted prayer leader, Chuck Pierce, the vice president of Global Harvest Ministries--said that God could "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 to intensified, 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 the outcome of the election when they place their vote. She said that the idea came to her in a dream in which God impressed upon her the crucial importance of the election.

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

Churches in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., area have canceled the scheduled speakers and scrapped registration fees for a capital prayer conference later this month to focus instead on three days of open-to-all pre-voting intercession. Organizers said: "Critical times call for critical measures.... There possibly may never be a more critical time for our nation than at this hour."

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