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21 Days of Prayer leads to healing, harvest for Virginia church

Senior Pastor Grant Ethridge leads at a recent 21 Days of Prayer gathering. Photo from Liberty Live

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (BP) — The 21 Days of Prayer emphasis at Liberty Live Church has a connection with new beginnings.

In its ninth year, the emphasis occurs twice on the calendar. The first comes in January, when many are recommitting to things like losing weight, saving money or, yes, being more disciplined about prayer and Bible study. August brings another emphasis in coordination with a new school year.

For three weeks, corporate prayer is a constant at the church. Sundays have always included that time, of course, but from Monday through Friday it occurs between 6-7 a.m. On Saturdays the start time is 9 a.m.

An recent attendee at Liberty Live Church’s 21 Days of Prayer gathering spends a moment in prayer. Photo from Liberty Live Church

Between 1,000-1,500 attendees arrive daily across the church’s four permanent campuses, with about 3,000 joining online.

The 42 days of prayer and fasting generate times of harvest.

“We end up giving a tithe of our days during the year to the Lord,” said Senior Pastor Grant Ethridge, who has spent 18 of his 40 years in ministry at the church. “Prayer connects us to God. Fasting disconnects us from the world.”

The weekday and Saturday gatherings begin with a time of worship, then a few words from Ethridge or another campus pastor. Approximately 20 minutes is then allotted for individual prayer before the time closes out with 15 minutes of praying together.

Ethridge looked at similar prayer focuses at Church of the Highlands and the Brooklyn Tabernacle and became determined to lead something similar at Liberty Live.

He hoped for 100 people at their first service; 500 showed up.  

“It’s amazing what God has done through it and how He uses it,” he said.

The stories include physical healings, those who were contemplating suicide and others deciding to not undergo an abortion. One attendee who didn’t speak English told her friend she could somehow still understand Ethridge’s preaching.

“She was here for three weeks visiting her son and daughter-in-law. We baptized her and sent her back to Chile. She told us through an interpreter that she was taking Jesus back to her people,” Ethridge said.

“We baptized over 1,000 people last year. I really believe it was in relation to 21 Days of Prayer. People prayed for their unchurched family and friends to be saved.”

In 2021 the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee was tasked with assisting churches in “elevating the ministry of prayer.” Texas pastor Kie Bowman accepted an invitation last June to lead in that effort. He called the results at Liberty Live “phenomenal.”

“The early church began in a prayer meeting, and the churches that recover the practice of extraordinary prayer receive the blessing of God,” Bowman said, “including spiritual revival and an increase in the number of people coming to Christ!

“The results are supernatural.”

While the emphasis and individual meetings have a definite start and stop time, prayer remains a constant at the church.

“There are people called to be intercessors. God lays it heavy on their heart to pray,” said the pastor. “So, we have a curriculum called Day 22. It’s available online and can be done at home or as a group.”

The church’s prayer ministry extends to those interceding during the worship service and praying beforehand over every seat.

Ethridge’s only regret is that he didn’t lead in the emphasis sooner.

“We’ve had great seasons of prayer before, but not anything like this,” he said. “It’s neat to see what God has done.”