At first glance, the Pacific Northwest hardly seems the place to expect an outbreak of spiritual revival. Noted as a center of liberal politics and independent, self-sufficient lifestyles, the area has one of the highest levels of satanic worship activity on the West Coast and one of the lowest church attendance rates in the country. In Portland, Oregon, for example, about 15 percent of the population attend church on Sunday morning (compared to as much as 40 percent in other metropolitan areas).

But the spiritual logjam appears ready to break. A continuing series of pastoral prayer meetings, capped in late September by a Billy Graham crusade, has brought Portland to what many church leaders there believe is the “threshold” of revival.

The prayer meetings began in 1989 when Joseph Aldrich, president of Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, called together a group of pastors in Salem, Oregon. “No agenda, no speakers, no special music,” recalls Aldrich, a Northwest native who returned to the area in 1978. “We came together to pray and sing and seek God.”

Since then, 3,400 pastors have participated in 69 meetings throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. During the four-day prayer summits, as they have come to be called, denominational and racial barriers have crumbled, personal sins have been confessed, relationships restored, and friendships built.

The movement of prayer has grown out of a “holy desperation,” says Terry Dirks, who joined Aldrich in orchestrating the meetings, “a divinely implanted hunger for Christ. We’d had enough principles, how-tos, seminars, conferences—when we knew in ourselves we were not what God wanted us to be.” Dirks serves as vice-president of Northwest Renewal Ministries, an extension of Multnomah ...

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