Transforming Arizona

by Deb Fritch
Through a ministry know as Lite the Fire, people across Arizona are now entering the fourth year of a journey of non-stop prayer, impacting all levels of society, bringing unity and decimating crime rates around the state. Deb Fritch, who founded Lite the Fire in 2005, personally recounts the story of their first three years of prayer.

At the writing of this article the “Torch,” as it is called, has been blazing across Arizona for over three years and has no signs of stopping anytime soon. The vision for the Torch is simple: to unite the church in Arizona by establishing non-stop prayer throughout the state.

Initially, the vision was to organize and equip 52 local prayer teams who would each cover one week of non-stop prayer in 2008, passing around a cheap camping lantern as they prayed. The response to the vision, along with the favor of the Lord, has compelled us to continue non-stop prayer in Arizona for the past three years.

The Torch was launched in small prayer room on New Year’s Eve 2007. There were 15 of us gathered in that little prayer room. At the time, we had 13 churches committed and a whole lot of faith for the Lord to fill all 52 weeks of 2008 with churches and ministries who were hungry for His Presence. Since we began praying, we have seen individuals, churches and even the government of Arizona start to transform. During the first year there was confirmed through the Phoenix Police department (Arizona’s state capital) that the crime rate had seen the largest decrease in 10 years. By the end of 2009 the murder rate in Phoenix had dropped a staggering 45 percent!

To be honest, year two was a challenge. The novelty had worn off and 24-7 prayer was no longer the “new thing.” But we persevered knowing that we had heard clearly from the Lord that the Torch would not end in 2008 and that it would not stop with Arizona. During the second year the Lord started speaking strongly to us about going outside the church walls to host prayer. We rented hotel rooms, visited casinos and even saw businesses opened their doors for 24-hour prayer watches. A local Christian television station hosted a “watch along” with a wing of a county jail. There were also weeks hosted by churches in chapels at several local hospitals. As we ended the second year of prayer, we were seeing things shift and momentum started to increase.

Year three was an amazing time of acceleration. We launched a second Torch in January 2010 that was dedicated to release the presence of God into homes. Like the days of Obed-Edom in 2 Samuel 6:11, we believe the presence of the Lord is invited into a home through prayer and worship. We have seen amazing fruit from this including salvations, new jobs and family reconciliation.

Another hallmark of our third year was seeing entire communities coming together to host a collective week of prayer. We saw churches from all denominations participate in this prayer week. Each church took a 24-hour segment during the week and all the churches participated as the Torch was passed each night. There were great breakthroughs in many of the cities that prayed. In one city, the Vice Mayor participated in one of the evening gatherings and through this the Lord has now opened the door for the local church to partner with its civil government. Through all this, it is evident that the level of prayer and the hunger for God is rising in Arizona.

One thing that is perhaps unique to what is happening in Arizona is what we call our “Torch Transfers.” Each Friday night the host church travels to the next host location to pass on the Torch (which is still the original $20 camping lantern). The new hosts start the celebration with a time of worship and then stories are shared about what God has done and is doing through their times of prayer. The Torch is then officially passed on and the group goes back into worship and prayer.

These transfers can be small and intimate with just a few people gathered in a prayer room or they can be large gatherings with a thousand people. We have experiences great relationships between pastors birthed out of these transfers. We have also seen a Christ-like unity built across Arizona as churches, ministries, businesses, schools and homes come together to see Arizona set ablaze for Jesus through 24-7 prayer.

The Torch has continued to travel throughout the State. At the end of 2010, it had traveled to nearly 40 cities. At the beginning of 2011, we had 15 weeks of committed prayer coverage and many others finalizing dates for their commitment. We have also been approached by several other states in America, as well as other nations, expressing a desire to see a similar model birthed in their region. We long see believers so filled with God that He would spread those around them, bringing salvation, healing, deliverance and transformation.

Watch Deb tell stories from the years of prayer in Arizona, including how prayer stopped one man intent on mass murder. This video was filmed during one of the storytelling times at Magnify 2010—the international 24-7 Prayer gathering held in September 2010.

[This story was originally published in December 2010 via 24-7 Prayer international.]
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