While his church was exclusively online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, church planter Rev. Dustin Crozier was exploring new ministry initiatives with a man from a Pentecostal church in Ontario. The man described an old black and white photo on his church’s wall in which two men are standing by an older vehicle. This photo seemed an odd thing to have on a church wall, so Rev. Crozier inquired as to its significance.

The man explained that in the early days of their denominational movement, the two men carried a vision for seeing churches being planted across Ontario. Burdened by this vision, they began driving across the province along the main highway where there were many towns without churches. The men would then pray for churches to be planted and for a movement of God to begin in each community they drove through. Within five years of their Ontario tour, many new churches had been planted or started in the communities in which they prayed.

Inspired by the men’s example from half a century ago, Rev. Crozier wondered, “Has anyone prayed in this way from one coast of Canada to the other?” He started to form an idea for implementation on a national level within Canada and took this idea to Dr. Stephen Elliott, national superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in Canada. This was the first time Dr. Elliott had heard someone propose an across country prayer tour, but the idea quickly grew from conception to fruition.

In Rev. Crozier’s words, the prayer tour goal “is to hear God’s voice for Canada as they crossed it, rather than pronouncing it.”

As a result of their planning, a series of about 75 local Wesleyan churches along a predetermined route in Canada and Maine have been holding prayer gatherings across the summer. Prayer events are scheduled nearly every day in all the southern provinces in Canada, but sadly the tour will not extend this year into the Yukon, the northern territories nor Nunavut.  Organized by the local churches, using the national office’s suggested prayer event guidelines, each gathering has a brief worship time. A time of confession and repentance often follows worship, which transitions into intercession for the local community, provinces and nation. Most importantly, each prayer gathering culminates in an extended time of listening to God.

Along this route of prayer gatherings, drive two outstanding Kingswood University students recruited by Dr. Elliott, Tom Mason and Luke Maiorino. Like the men pictured in the black and white photo on the Pentecostal church’s wall, they drive from church to church and province to province, including the U.S. state of Maine, praying for churches to be planted and for a movement of God to begin in each community, particularly in ones without a Wesleyan or holiness church presence.

After listening to the Lord at the end of each prayer gathering, people are asked to write down what they believe God is telling them. These responses are turned in to Tom and Luke, who have already filled a massive binder with hundreds of responses.  At the National Prayer Tour’s conclusion in August, a designated person will go through the compiled responses, looking for trends which Dr. Elliott will use to see how The Wesleyan Church can respond. Tom already noticed, “The main common theme that has been laid on people’s hearts is the younger generation.”

Tom also recognizes the significant local impact of the National Prayer Tour, which are spawning many other prayer events and walks. “A passion for private and corporate prayer is being renewed and revived in people.” As they pulled into one new community, they were invited to pray over graduates at a local graduation at a secular university. According to Luke, “Churches are encouraged and being inspired.”

Dr. Elliott is aware of the challenges of the church in Canada. The media frequently mischaracterizes the church and people of faith. There are still a few provinces without a Wesleyan church. Despite the strong Wesleyan presence east of Ontario, only a handful of Wesleyan churches exist west of Ontario. Through the collective prayers of The Wesleyan Church in Canada, Dr. Elliott is looking for opportunities for new church plants, especially in Quebec, Newfoundland, Maine, Western Canada, Yukon, and the Northern Territories.  Additionally, The Wesleyan Church is keenly aware of the need for church planting amongst recent immigrants and in the indigenous communities where they may be invited.

District superintendents Rev. Peter Moore and Rev. Eric Hallett also recognize the impact of the National Prayer Tour:

“We are so grateful for the hours we have spent together in prayer for Canada and Maine resulting from the vision of Dusty Crozier made possible by the perseverance of our national superintendent,” shares Rev. Moore.

“It has been a blessing to collaborate as Central Canada District churches with this incredible vision to unify in prayer all across our country. We believe God will respond to these prayer gatherings with an outpouring of love and missional momentum leading to new apostolic initiatives from coast to coast,” said Rev. Hallett.

Since Rev. Crozier shared the idea of the National Prayer Tour, Dr. Elliott has been made aware of three other similar prayer tours with similar goals being organized by other denominations. Dr. Elliott believes that God is on the move.

“There is something afoot, and we heard from God, and other people heard from God that now is the time to intercede on behalf our nation.” While this was initially only a one-year goal, many congregations are already asking for more.

To follow the National Prayer Tour, view the Sunday prayer gatherings and watch video updates from Tom and Luke, go to wesleyan.online.church.

Jacob Gibson is the senior pastor at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church, Richmond, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.