LONDON - Next weekend, Christians in more than 200 countries will participate in the annual Global Day of Prayer.
Christians in the United Kingdom say prayer has brought change to some of their neighborhoods.
As the Global Day of Prayer takes place next weekend on Pentecost Sunday, a wave of prayer movements are emerging across the UK that's seeing transformation taking place across the country.
For centuries believers have gathered to pray here at Westminster Abbey in London, and prayer gatherings throughout the UK continue to unite believers for one purpose to see their towns and cities reached for Christ.
Gathering Millions for Christ
Earlier this month Christians in Manchester, one of the country's toughest cities for violent crime, launched their "1 million hours of prayer" initiative.
Andy Hawthorne, founder of the Message Trust in Manchester, explains the importance of prayer for reaching their city.
"We've got this vision for a million hours of hour for Greater Manchester and our vision has always been for our city," he said. "Our goal is for every person in Greater Manchester which is 2.5 million to hear the good news repeatedly and see the good news demonstrated. But we're not going to achieve that without loads of prayer."
Hawthorne says they've already seen a significant drop in the crime rate when their teams of young evangelists have moved into some of these tough areas combining outreach with focused prayer.
"We're started to see on the toughest areas as people move in and back that up with powerful prayer we're starting to see crime come down and churches grow," he added. "We have real statistics where Greater Manchester police tell us that in some of the areas where we're working there's been a 45 percent reduction in crime."
And Manchester-based Christian Police officer Steve Wilkinson gives an example of how prayer and outreach saw a dramatic turnaround in a crime problem among young people at one of their city's parks. This took place after one of Hawthorne's teams starting bringing their Eden outreach bus there.
"The bus came with Christian youth workers to come and work in the park with the kids," Wilkinson recalled. "Then week after week we saw a gradual reduction in calls about crime and disorder."
A decade ago in the small town of Chichester just south of London, the 24/7 prayer movement was launched by Pete Greig. They began their first round the clock prayer room for a month in 1999. And as they started experiencing miracles taking place interest grew around the world.
Today, he is astounded to see they are now in 93 countries. Greig is particularly excited about their latest project called Campus America.
"One of the most exciting things that's happening right now is next year in 2010 we're going to be a 24/7 prayer room on every university and college and seminary campus in the United States of America. That's 2614 campuses," he said. "We're on course on 20 percent of the campuses and the initiative is just exploding."
As the 24/7 prayer movement was birthed, so was the Global Day of Prayer.
Proof that Prayer Changes
On Pentecost Sunday, thousands of churches across the capital will be joining this international event.
Convener of the Global Day of Prayer London is Nigerian pastor Jonathan Oloyede, who says since they launched the event they've seen a significant impact in the city particularly on the issue of violent crime.
"We've had city-wide prayers ongoing for gun and knife crime and we've seen these issues shift away from the headlines," he said.
"We feel that prayer has made a major difference. Prayer changes things and we believe when the people of God come together to pray it produces what I would say to be the kingdom of God breaking into society," Oloyede continued. "Some people call it transformation. Some people call it revival. I call it the kingdom."
So as believers throughout London will be joining in the Global Day of Prayer next Sunday, it's their hope that transformation will continue to take place in towns and cities across the UK.