Inspirational Tunes

A History of Prayer Chains

Prayer chains are a chain of people who pray in a sequence, creating an unbroken perpetual prayer. Today the practice involves several different methods, all of which stem from the original ideas. The history of the prayer chain, and continual prayer, is a long and fruitful one, with many people offering up their services to God by praying and worshipping Him. On record there are even some towns, notably a refugee town in Saxony Germany, which kept a perpetual prayer through a chain of devotees for over one hundred years non-stop. These are clear signs of faith and how inspired man can be to look up to a higher power, believe in that power, and offers prayer to that power, being God.


A prayer chain is a smaller scale operation, compared to a full scale staffed prayer order. The prayer chain will keep the same prayer alive without allocating resources for a perpetual congregation – rather one person from such congregation shall devote an hour of their time, followed by another person and hour, and so on, so that the prayer itself remains unbroken. The larger practice of perpetual prayer has been around since the time of David. Many theologians who study God and His effect on history (being the history of the men who devoted to him) have found that even as far back as the temples of David and Solomon that there was continual devotion to God, which was (and for a time remained) unbroken. Men would worship day and night in a continual chain in order to show their adoration and loyalty to god for the gifts he gave.

More recent history of such practice can be dated to the early Christians with their devotions to the Lord, and it is from here that more modern methods and practices are derived. In modern times, a movement around this has developed, noted as the 24-7 movement where rooms of churches are devoted to those in prayer, and remain with people in them at all times. It is possible to do this with large congregations, as an hour of time is a small price to pay when considering all the Lord gives.

In about 430AD a man named Alexander, who was appointed as an Archimandrite, and was also founder of the order of Acoemetae monks, is thought to be one of the originators of the early Christian practice of perpetual prayer to God. In spite of his difficulties with a hostile emperor of the Byzantine at the time, and the opposition of other religious leaders he eventually succeeded in founding his order, and in keeping perpetual prayer with a chain of devoted monks. During its peak which was after Alexander’s death the Acoemetae’s service to God grew greater in number, until some of their orders had not hundreds, but thousands, who were a part of the prayer and the devotion to the Lord.


With the rise of a reliable post office in the early twentieth century, and indeed before that with more reliable and regular mail and message delivery, more accessibility to setting up prayer lists and keeping track led smaller congregations to attempt to keep a 24-7 vigil for god. Although many kept it through the day, forgoing the night, most did attempt to keep an unbroken chain of devotion. Later, telegraphs would facilitate faster information travel such as the information on a telegram – and following this, another Alexander contributed the creation of the modern Telephone, and from that the rise in communication that was instant. These new means of keeping a prayer chain going had become very convenient soon after their arrival, and have proven to be very fruitful.

Toward the seventies and eighties lists could be kept easily, additionally they could be updated easily and nearly instantly, and people could be called to remind them of their pledges to donate just a small hour to God. From then on, it became ever easier to organize, update, track and establish prayer chains, without needing a dedicated church order or a full staff to insure it stayed organized and perpetual. With the rise of our information age also rose up the ability to have larger chains with more people in them, giving a chance to more to send prayer to God.

By the late 1990s the movements around perpetual prayer and prayer chains had moved to the internet and email, along with instant messaging. Now not only could a phone call, letter, or pager buzz notify, but so could an E-mail, an instant messages or a chat-room – and even then there could be a combination of notifications. With this and the ever growing ever advancing technology, live video feeds for those praying along with chat rooms have come to fruition, and prayer chains have risen across the world – international prayer chains have thus become common place from this grand technological advancement.

More people now are offering up consecutive 24-7 world wide prayer requests than ever before, without needing to go to a church. It can be done at home with online prayer request, and it can follow a chain of people starting in Kansas, and then later at night moving across the oceans to those devoted in Europe, and then back around all the way to Kansas again the next day.

Also with technology and spreadsheets comes the availability of keeping a master list and making sure each time someone devotes can be covered for online prayer requests and international prayer chains. Prayer chains have become more organized, efficient, and less costly than ever before, and will continue in this direction. Many prayer chains have shortened times to fifteen minutes, allowing for more people to be in a continual chain throughout the day – some times rapid world wide prayer chains are set up now just to see how many people can be covered, although with 15-60 minutes it is much more accurate and less likely anyone will break the chain.


Starting back all the way with Solomon and David with the temples that offered perpetual prayer, then to the order of the Acoemetaes who standardized and gave the modern churches many of their prayers, people have been praying. It might even be possible that if you took the whole world, and looked at it, that prayer may still be unbroken for over 2,000 years in one massive prayer chain of all mankind. Of course, the smaller chains were assisted as reliability of mail came about along with the telegram from the telegraph, the instant speech from the telephone. Now communication satellites with the internet which facilitate cell phones, instant messages, chat rooms, and emails make it ever more accessible.

The future of prayer chains lies in an online interactive world with billions of bits of information being sent and delivered at close to the speed of light. Now more than ever people can communicate and organize, information travels further and faster than it ever has been able to, and people are all connected in this one world. All people can become a part of the great prayer chain that is life here on our wonderful planet granted by God.

Copyright © 2012

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