By Peter Montgomery / 10.06.2017
Visitors to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., last weekend found themselves in the midst of a tent city that is part of what organizers are calling “a historic weekend of worship, prayer and evangelism.” The project—known as “Awaken the Dawn”—will kick off on Friday evening and run all weekend, leading into Monday’s Rise Up rally, the latest in a series of political prayer rallies organized by dominionist preacher Lou Engle under the banner of “The Call.”
Like most Religious Right events, an overarching goal of the weekend’s events is to spark a spiritual revival that will bring America “back to God.” Another goal of the rally’s organizers is to wage spiritual warfare against Supreme Court justices who have upheld women’s right to abortion. Engel has urged people to build up to the event with 30 days of prayer and fasting to prepare to “shift history.” Some prophets have been predicting miracles.
Fifty prayer tents—one for each state—are being set up on the Mall, along with larger tents and stages. The event is taking place around the 20th anniversary of a massive Promise Keepers gathering in D.C., and organizers had been hoping that a million people would join them for what a Christian Broadcasting Network story called a “Holy Spirit Woodstock.” But a recent Christian Post article predicted a more modest turnout of “tens of thousands.”
Engel and his friend David Bradshaw, who leads a Virginia-based ministry called Prayer Furnace, have been organizing the event since conservative Christian leaders gathered in Washington for Trump’s inauguration. In a February email announcing the planned event, Texas-based pastors and Family Research Council activists Lewis and Rachel Hogan said that Trump’s election was a sign of “the hand of God answering prayers.” (It’s hard to argue with that, since Trump has been, from a policy perspective, a godsend for the Religious Right.) This summer, Intercessors for America urged its prayer warriors to begin praying for the event, saying that a “new Jesus movement” among the millennial generation is the only “antidote in this hour.”
Engel says the Rise Up rally is the fulfillment of a divine call to mobilize a women’s movement that will bring about the end of abortion in America. In one of his videos promoting the event, Engel contrasts it with the massive Women’s March that took place after Trump’s inauguration, which he says was not “founded on the biblical foundations of righteousness and justice.” Among those who have been urging Christian women to attend Rise Up is Karen Wheaton of the Alabama based-ministry The Ramp, who calls Engel “one of the greatest men of God that I have personally ever walked with.”
On Wednesday, the Trump-supporting apostolic network POTUS Shield held a gathering outside Washington that organizers billed as the “tip of the spear” that would “open the heavens” for the weekend activities, but there was a sparse turnout for the day-long event. In addition to Engel, other members of POTUS Shield’s Council who are scheduled to speak over the weekend include Cindy Jacobs and Alveda King.
This year, Engel has repeatedly been telling audiences about a book, George Otis’s “The Last of the Giants,” which says that God’s hand was at work in the deaths of multiple Soviet leaders whose demise enabled Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power. At a POTUS Shield gathering in March, Engle prayed for God to “sweep away” Supreme Court justices and federal judges who uphold Roe v. Wade. He suggested that God could either kill or convert the judges in question, and he told people the church can’t be too “humanistic” in its prayers when confronting the “evil” of abortion.
Just a few days ago, a Rise Up newsletter described the event as people coming together “to form a mighty procession of worship and praise that causes God to arise and scatter His enemies.” Among the emails sent to registrants and prayer warriors in preparation for this weekend was one declaring that 1,000 prayer teams will “barrage the U.S. Supreme Court with brief strikes of intercession” during the four-day weekend with the following prayer focuses:
- Decree the removing, resigning, or reforming of four more Supreme Court justices
- Pray for the Court’s “covenant with death” to be annulled! Isaiah 28:18
- Exalt our Lord Jesus Christ over the court as the Judge of judges. Psalm 82
- Pray Isaiah 1:26 for our courts to be restored to biblical ideologies of justice and righteousness
Another group taking part in the weekend, UnitedCry, has announced that it will gather pastors together on Saturday to launch three new initiatives:
- America Prays, which will build “canopies of united, strategic, sustainable prayer in every state in America”
- Moral Outcry, a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court that will gather “millions” of signatures from pastors and Christian leaders “calling for the end of abortion in America and promoting adoption”
- Congressional Clergy Town Hall, which will endeavor “to connect 6,000 pastors with Congress”
At an event hosted by The Call this summer, Lance Wallnau, who had declared during the presidential campaign that Trump was anointed by God like the biblical King Cyrus, said that now is “the crucial time for the Church to take territory because Cyrus is governing the land.” He referenced Seven Mountains dominionism, which teaches that the right kind of Christians must take dominion over the major spheres of influence in society. Wallnau told The Call audience that this is the time to get “God’s people” into positions of influence “so we can disciple the nation”:
This is an invitation to reformation, not just to revival. Every area of secular culture that we have lost over the last fifteen years has to be retaken by godly reformers who infiltrate the secular world. We have had a culture of response, but now we need a contending culture that conquers the gates of hell.
In an August speech in which he promoted this weekend’s gathering, Engle decreed that “the intercession of the saints is not just praying for the great awakening, it’s actually governing authorities, powers, and dominions.” He led his audience in chants for Supreme Court justices to be “removed, resigned, or reformed.” He said it is time for the ekklesia—a term used by dominionists to describe the church in the form of a divine legislative body—to take their stand, “seated with Christ,” and “stretch out that rod and rule in the midst of the enemies.”