Wednesday, May 31, 2006

JOY FALLS IN FRESNO: A Citywide House of Prayer

my article distributed at our first meeting of 247 Prayer in Fresno:

JOY FALLS IN FRESNO: A Citywide House of Prayer
The phrase “Joy Falls” sounds vaguely familiar, I know.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking; it’s not the name of that third cousin of yours (twice removed) in Arkansas.

And even though it IS the name of a 70 foot high waterfall in Big South Fork, Tennessee;
that’s not exactly what we have in mind, either.

“Joy Falls” is a motto for, and summary of, what is about to happen in Fresno, California…. and touch the world from there: a 24/7 (twenty four hours a day, seven days a week) “intentionally international,” and deeply joyful , “house of prayer. “ A place from which joy and blessing will fall upon those praying; and fall in turn and in time upon the city which we will pray for; a city which, by the way, God has sovereignly, specifically, and strategically planted us in (some of us against our will!) . “God has chosen the exact times and precise places where everyone should live”, as Acts 10:26 would have it…

As far as inaugurating a 24/7 citywide, “house” of joy and prayer for all nationalities: That precise place is Fresno, and the exact time is now.

Contrary to what most folks think; and even against what we were taught in Sunday School!), Jesus’ “temple tantrum” against the moneychangers and dovesellers was not primarily motivated by those scoundrels; “selling stuff in church.” Note that Jesus did not say “Thou shalt stop selling stuff in church!,” but “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations…” (Mark 11:17)

His casting out of the moneychangers and dovesellers was not because they were changing money and selling doves; but because they were doing so precisely on the only spot in the temple area where non-Jews could worship. They had the nerve to set up shop right on the “pews “ of the people who most needed to be there: “all nations.” Bluntly stated, Jesus’ “righteous anger” was about racism
far more than commercialism. It was more to do with securing a safe place for all people to pray; than a
place where no “secular” business transacted.

The “joy” connection to this intentionally international house of prayer?

“Joy,” C. S. Lewis offered, “ is the serious business of heaven. ” Even more foundationally, it’s the very keynote, signpost, and evidence of any valid “ houses of prayer” business on earth; Jesus Himself said so! There is no doubt that his biblical text for his famed “temple tantrum” sermon was Isaiah 56:6-8: “Let all people and races come, and to these I will give the one thing that validates a house of prayer for all nations:


(more on the “temple tantrum “:

That joy is about to finally fall in Fresno; and you intuitively know that you….we… inevitably
have a huge part to pray, and a holy part to play, in that prayer/joy falling according to God’s will and timetable.

Many have felt the stirrings; you have participated, prophesied and paved the way in building expectancy.

When Christianity Today magazine asked publicly from its cover on March 6 2000, “What is God Doing in Fresno?” (, it was because God had energized and synergized many remarkable vessels (Pastors Sprayer Summit, plans for the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade, No Name Fellowship, One by One, etc etc) for unity and revival.

However optimistic that cover question was, the eventual answer at the end of the article was tentative:
“The church in Fresno is all over the map, literally and figuratively. It's premature to say that what's happening in Fresno will make a lasting difference.”

Here’s what I am not saying, not by a long shot: that the 24/7 prayer center is THE key piece of the revival God is desiring to birth; THE lasting difference. But it will be a catalyst, facilitator and blesser of every ministry with the city’s joy on its heart ; and a blesser of everyone in our city.

“God's view of Fresno does not have the church in the middle," began a very provocative quote by one Fresno leader in that article (Richard Kriegbaum…full disclosure: my father-in-law). “He has the people of Fresno in the middle." A people who are “all nations.” Who crave joy. And need prayer.

"A lot of people are thoroughly enjoying the challenge and the work," (then) Mayor Patterson concluded in the article. "There's a joy rising in Fresno."

Whether you picture the joy rising or falling; it’s coming.

And we are the only people who can kickstart and pray it into being.

“The church is the only group large enough to affect a community…. There is nothing that can't be done by the church, ” our own Alan Doswald wrote in a more recent (January 2005, Christianity Today article. But he warns: “ Our vital role is not realized, however, until we are mobilized.”

Sound like a big challenge? Of course it is.

“But no one has ever done this before; it’s impossible!,” Trinity said to Neo in the film “The Matrix.”

“I know,” Neo calmly but firmly responded. “That’s why it’s going to work.”

Yes, city-wide houses of prayer have been pulled off around the world, from Jerusalem ( to Kansas City (I.H.O.P.); and many models are available to draw and learn from.

But no one has done it in Fresno; and none has been established that will have our unique flavor.
And it may be impossible.

Which is precisely why it is possible; and “going to work”!

The critical mass has amassed ; the Tipping Point is tipping in our favor; there is holy restlessness driving it; partly because crime rates, gang activity and concentrated poverty has intensified. .

In a startling and relevant analysis, one leader suggests that there are typically two events that happen in a city that can falsely convince us that we have arrived (or are beginning to) spiritually: a Pastor’s Prayer Summit, and a Billy Graham Crusade. This leader does not at all suggest these two signs are bad things; indeed they have both been amazingly God-breathings in our city. But they both serve to facilitate our even better days are ahead.

The goal and vision:

Especially in light of Mark 11: 17 and Isaiah 56:6-8..

To establish a citywide 24-7 Christian city prayer center, one that is postured to be “intentionally international,” and positioned to let God’s joy, salvation and blessing fall upon our beloved Fresno. It will be at a neutral location (i.e., not at a local church facility, as that would send the wrong message)

It will be:

a)a safe place for individuals and groups to come and pray; either ‘alone,’ or with someone there who is available to pray for/with them.

b)a place from which to pray for our city (churches, government leaders, businesses, etc etc), as well as state, nation and world.
c)A center and encourager for anything to do with connecting and “cross-pollinating” the various prayer networks/ groups, ministries/ streams of our city (citywide prayer website, encouraging all such streams to continue meeting and dreaming together…such as is happening at the Roundtable for Prayer Ministries., etc.)

In an alternative outline, the values will be:

1. Bridging Church, Community and City (Luke 10:27)
2. Working the Net (John 21:6 and Internet) and Networking Networks
3. Fasting When We MissJesus (Mark 2:20)
4. Forming Forerunners and Enfolding the Fivefold (Ephesians 2:20; 4:11)
5. Seeing the Kingdom Manifest in Fresno and Beyond (Matthew 4:17; 11:12; Hebrews 6:5)

One obvious potential location, as it is squarely in the marketplace, not “churchy”, and in fact in the tallest building between Los Angeles and San Francisco….is the currently available 6th floor of the historic 1924 skyscraper that is “not only the center of Fresno; but also Fresno’s icon representing their home” ; The 1060 Fulton Mall “Security Bank” building; now officially named Fresno Pacific Towers.

The building’s website (, from which the previous quote was located) remembers that:

“Originally, there was a flagpole with a huge revolving light 315 feet above the sidewalk. The beacon was intended to warn farmers within a thirty mile radius of frost and storm warnings and to guide airplanes to the airport. This flagpole has since been replaced with a sturdy steel antenna which houses communication equipment along with the still present airplane beacon.”

One cannot miss the potentially prophetic symbolism; the “bank” may again be a warning; a beacon; a blessing. Not to mention that lighted windows formed a huge cross across this landmark building during Easter week not that many years ago.

Thanks to ‘church and state’ issues; those days of a lighted cross on such a public building the building may not come again.

But the equivalent; the Cross, and its Joy , will in the near future fall upon our city in an unprecedented way; perhaps from this historic building; which just might be…in part…a house of prayer for all nations.

Saundra King, a woman of prayer and a visionary, now owns the building. Every day, she and her staff “give the building to God.” She would like to rent the 6th floor as a whole for perhaps $7000 a month.

That would of course be too much of a stretch for any one church …or even ten churches…to score.

But what if there were only one church in Fresno, with 400-plus branch offices; and suddenly there are sources and resources to make the impossible happen. (For example: Twenty four congregations offering $292 a month does it, not to factor in inevitable grants and individual and corporate donations)

Right, Neo?

Yes, “Joy Falls” actually is a 70 foot waterfall in Big South Fork, Tennessee.

But the one church of Fresno, California is called and chosen to…via its current fork in the road…
establish a citywide, intentionally international, house of prayer where Joy Falls . It might even be from the panoramic view of the 6th floor of a “secular” building that is 242 feet high.

There are practical steps that could make it happen.

There are prophetic people who can take those steps.

There are powerful yet gentle intercessors, entrepreneurs, pastors, leaders; and most importantly “everyday” followers of the Jesus who desires nothing more than that Joy might fall upon a city
through the prayers of his church.

It’s time for a sequel to “What is God Doing in Fresno?”. Many of you will be part of that story. Fresno’s City House of Prayer will be part of that sequel.

It’s impossible.

Which is why it will happen.

Dave Wainscott
1060 Fulton Mall, Suite 711
Fresno 93726

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