Part Four: The "Revival's" Prayer Circles Of Power
By Ed Tarkowski

"I was horrified when Terry Virgo encouraged us to get together in a circle and hold hands as a sign of 'unity' and to let the power flow through us."(1)
Matt D. from Sussex in the UK wrote the above as part of his testimony of realizing the error of the Toronto Experience. His description of the prayer circle contains the very elements that we have been discussing: a small group in a circle, holding hands as a sign of unity, and a releasing of power through those in the circle. While there is no hint of approval for this practice in the Scriptures, these elements are common in Witchcraft, Gnosticism, Native American cultures and the current "revival," as documented in the first three parts of this series. You may want to remind yourself of a few facts from these by reading the sidebar accompanying this article, entitled SUMMARY: Parts One Through Three.


Now I'd like to make a very important point: Pagan Daphne said, "Ritual space is defined by walls in churches, [or] by casting a circle in Pagan rituals,"(2) and Wiccan Selena Fox informed us that the use of the circle and its rituals can be designed according to one's own traditions, preferences, and experiences. What these statements do is open up a way of flexibility for Witchcraft and Gnosticism to be introduced into the church in an acceptable form. In other words, the form, if bent enough here and there, would still be Witchcraft and Gnosticism, but LOOK acceptable as Christian worship and fellowship with a wonder-working God. Keeping that in mind, let's now look at the revival in the light of all I have shared thus far.


In Part Two, I quoted Wiccan Daphne as saying,

"Sweeping the circle is a way to clear unwanted emotional baggage, 'vibes' and to prepare the circle space for casting. The handmaiden literally sweeps the ritual area with a broom, often called a besom"(3).

Remembering that Wiccans believe that the walls of a church form a sacred space, we can ask, "Is there a form of 'sweeping' or 'cleansing the house' going on in the revival?" Yes, there is, and at Brownsville, it is done before the service begins, as seen in the following testimonies. Under the heading "Sweeping The House," the following testimony describes "200 people who were preparing their hearts for intercession."

"The first part of the service is dedicated to 'sweeping' the house. We were instructed to grab the hands of two or three others and move through the auditorium and cleanse the house. (During the revival services the lost come in by the hundreds and demonic spirits who have oppressed many are driven out by the power of God.) These prayer warriors go into action and little groups of three or four move throughout the auditorium, cleansing every area of the house. They pray over every seat, imploring God to touch the hearts of those who will come from many places to attend the revival services. They anoint the seats of those in the choir and the leaders on the platform. Deep intercession takes place everywhere (parenthesis in original).

"The 'sweeping' is done. Throughout the auditorium are prayer banners. In the second part of the service Pastor Robertson reminds those present that these are not to be seen as idols. They are focus points for us as we intercede for revival in our world. These banners are intricately handcrafted and reflect the areas of prayer the Lord gave Pastor Kilpatrick: family, national leaders, healing, pastors, ministries, children, souls, catastrophic events, spiritual warfare, schools, the Lord's return, revival, peace in Jerusalem, and Brownsville Assembly. Pastor Robertson encourages each individual to spend about ten minutes in intercession and then move on to the next banner.

"Interceding for Pastors

"I have just finished the 'sweeping' and am standing before the 'pastors' banner. As soon as the intercession begins, I am overwhelmed with grief and sorrow and tears flow down my cheeks. I am heavily engaged in prayer for those pastors I have known over the years who have fallen and are not serving the Lord. I find myself intreating (sic) God on their behalf, praying with deep groaning for their restoration. I find that I cannot move to the next banner. I have never experienced anything of this magnitude in my whole life. . . . They have broken through into the heavens and God has come down."(4)

Here is another such testimony of purifying and cleansing "the grounds of the sanctuary," immediately followed by the Holy Spirit's arrival:

"The day was destined to be anointed of God from the start. I arrived at the sanctuary at 11:45am expecting a normal intercessors meeting to be going on. What I found was far from normal. Dr. Josh Peters was praying with the other students for some needs of other students and for the student body as a whole. He then asked us all to take hands in one continuous loop covering the entire sanctuary up stairs and downstairs. We then began to bind the devil in Jesus name and purify and clean the grounds of the sanctuary. It was so fantastic. Right away the Holy Spirit came down and made himself known to us. His presence was so breathtaking."(5)

I don't know where the idea of calling down the Holy Spirit originally came from. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been here and we don't have to "break through" to bring Him down, or get Him to "show up" at Christian meetings. He is ever present where the Church gathers, but so often lately we hear about the Lord "showing up" at meetings. As for prayer circles as described in the previous quote, it's apparent that the leaders actually form people into these circles. They are becoming a ritual of the Church, becoming more and more common, and all without Biblical sanction.


Although I won't deal much with this, I did want to mention that just as circles are "cast" by the people themselves by forming their circle for prayer, there are innumerable testimonies of swords, armor, oil and such "given" to people in the spiritual realm. These objects are for the most part "seen" or "felt" spiritually, but then are taken and used physically by the person without having an actual, visible object in his hands.

Casting the circle is taking on some strange forms in Christianity, such as in a new thing called "stakeouts." For example, here is an email I received concerning the "staking out" of the San Francisco area:

"San Francisco All-Night Prayer Vigil . . .

". . . and Stakeout!!

"* WHEN? This Friday, May 22nd, from 7 pm - 7 am

"* WHERE? Voice of Pentecost Church 1970 Ocean Avenue at Victoria (betw. Fairfield & Lakewood) San Francisco, California . . .

"Ed Silvoso will be speaking at this Prayer Watch Night of the Lord at 9:30 pm.

"Prayer leaders from all around the San Francisco Bay Area will be coming into the City to bless San Francisco at this prayer gathering. All are most lovingly invited to join us in prayer for Revival in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"At 4 am, we will carpool to strategic locations and prayerfully stake out San Francisco, securing the perimeter, as has been done in Baltimore (cf. David Jehl 2/26/98 [NEW-WINE] Baltimore Stake-out').

"We will anoint with holy oil the 4-sided wooden stakes bearing the inscriptions Repentance, Revival, Reconciliation, and Renewal, and partake of Holy Communion together as we intercede in Christ's authority over San Francisco."(6)


Again, this is a common phenomena that is associated with the Gnosticism we discussed in Part Three, as well as in the renewal itself since it started in the 1960s.


In a report on a gathering called "Catch The Fire II" in Moscow, Bill Cassada reports that power was released through dancing in a circle at Rosa Church, the largest charismatic church in that city:

"We were absolutely connected with the Holy Spirit during this glorious time of adoration to our Lord. There were approximately 1000 people in attendance, and everyone was gloriously entered in. Over towards one side near the front, Kathleen Balassi danced in a circle of praise with several of the youth from the St Louis team and Russian children as well. Near the end of the worship time, the worship team played a tune well-known to us, The River is here.' It was not difficult to sing along with that one! Soon the place was really hoppin' as a dance chain quickly formed (not hard to do here, Russians love to dance!) and 50-60 people were leapin' and dancin' to the music around the sanctuary. Also, all during worship, Russian women from the church danced before the Lord in their folk costumes. One of their team members is currently studying with the Bolshoi Ballet Troupe, so you know the quality of this dance group is excellent! They joined in the festivities with the other dancers, the end result being several of the troupe lying on the floor, blasted by the Holy Ghost! To say the worship was robust and meaningful would be somewhat of an understatement. You shoulda been there!"(7)

In an "Update from Tula [Russia]: May 10th, 1996," we find another testimony of dancing in a circle "before the Lord":

"We had been so involved in the prayer with Lana that neither of realized what had begun around us. An exhuberant flow of worship had spread throughout the theatre. Everywhere people were dancing to the Lord in victorious praise. The prayer time had erupted into a party of thanksgiving and joy. Even my own two left feet seemed to be screeming at me, "Dance, you fool...Dance!" Just then a line of people swept past me. They had come dancing down the aisle from the back to the front of the theatre and were making the turn back when one of them grabbed my arm and pulled me along. I resisted initialy (sic), as I flashed back to a church I'd visited once in the States who regularly broke into this kind of line-dance. I remember how I'd ridiculed them and written it off as the kind of unbridled emotionalism I would never stoop to. Lately I'm learning, with God to be careful what I say I'll never do, because I'll probably end up doing it. I threw the thought out of my [mind] and joined in, at least for a couple of laps. Within moments the chain of dancers spanned, unbroken, all the way down one aisle, across the front, up the other aisle and across the back to create a full circle."(8)


I would imagine that Cassada's being "blasted" by the Holy Ghost is the same as being "whammed" in a regular prayer circle by the same spirit. John Spencer reported this event which occurred in the lobby of a Toronto hotel as a group prayed in a circle for the "Have Another Drink" Conference:

"Darrel Stott is coming to Owensboro, Kentucky from July 5th to the 10th this year! He is still ministering in Australia as most of you probably know. I heard that he has been having a powerful ministry with healing, signs, and wonders in Australia for at least eighteen weeks . He will be ministering at my church, New Life Worship Center, pastored by Crawford Huff. I met Darrel Stott in Toronto at the lobby of Best Western Carlton Place Hotel last July. About ten of us prayed in a circle for the Have Another Drink' conference. Wham! The power of God hit me and I fell down to the floor along with Darrel and two other guys. We started to laugh out loud right there in the front of the hotel! We really became "intoxicated" in the Holy Spirit that evening! I did not know that was Darrel until he introduced himself as the speaker the following day at the conference. He had trouble talking coherently and kept saying, "Hula, hula, hula!" frequently. He is from the Assembly of God background. You can read Darrel's article in the January edition of "Spread The Fire" magazine published by the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. The title of the article is, "It's My Party And I'll Laugh If I Want To". . . .(9)


My question may have been unclear, as Greg's reply indicated that he was not familiar with such a practice, but then he described exactly what I was asking about:

"Greetings! I must confess I'm not aware of such "prayer circles" therefore I can't comment. However I can share with you one particular instance at my church where we were all encouraged to stand around the walls inside the auditorium and facing the wall, then we prayed for the city. Most times however we're encouraged to just turn around and face the city, which is behind us. Such actions are purely faith statements - like, ‘laying on of hands' is a faith statement - you don't actually NEED to lay hands for there to be healing, but that laying on of hands serves to demonstrate our faith that God will heal. I suspect the same applies where it comes to praying for the city."(9)

During the period I was investigating this matter, I was sent many emails concerning the use of the four directions, many of which were associated with prayer circles. Here is one report from Diana W:

"About this Tuesday intercessory prayer meeting, [my friend] Betty said: There were banners hung with a variety of "needs" written on them, and folks were to use these banners to specifically pray for the needs. About an hour into the meeting, the intercessors were told to stand and call to the North, the South, the East and the West to call forth the "souls in captivity."' By this time, Betty could stand no more of the meeting and left. Her comment was that it just sickened her spiritually, and she had to leave."

In a report entitled, "Pensacola: Preparing For The Meeting," Cathy Wood describes "sweeping" to begin the meeting, followed by prayer over the four directions:

"Tonight I went to Intercession at Brownsville. No less than a thousand people were there tonight, it could have been much more. At intercession, we pray and settle ourselves when we first get inside the building, making sure we have cleaned our hearts and minds from the cares of the world and regular living. We get focused on what we are here for in the initial 20 minutes or so. Next we begin to walk through the entire building praying in the Spirit building our faith and just loving on Jesus. After that we join hands with others (2's and 3's) and we sweep the building with prayers, asking God to clean up anything left behind last week as thousands were set free at the altars and we ask him to save the lost and bring home backsliders this coming week. We ask him to heal the sick. We pray over every pew, asking that distractions be held down and that the wooing of the Holy Spirit will be felt even in the back row of the balcony and in overflow. When we have done that a while we split up and gather around the topic banners and pray for what is on our hearts. Some banners represent, family, healing, pastors, warfare, revival, schools, country, children, etc. Around the banners tonight I was gripped with a wave of love for the people praying around them. It is hard to open your eyes and look at them. My knees would buckle as I stood near some Japanese men. They were absolutely desperate to touch the Lord. Their cries in their own language did not need an interpreter for me to know how badly they wanted revival. Koreans were here also tonight, and for some reason I am drawn to the Oriental people. I love all the visitors but these have a special place in my heart. You can see that if you go look at the photos I took in Toronto. I guess when you feel pulled toward a certain area, that's where God wants to use you. We took the Souls Banner, the Warfare Banner and REVIVAL Banner to the east side of the room and prayed for the Holy Spirit to bring in souls this week from there. We prayed over each the North, South, East and West. Then we turned our eyes to the ceiling and asked God for Open heavens over Brownsville this week before leaving. . . ."(11)


Sandy Simpson, a missionary in Guam who also has a ministry of exposing the falsities of the revival, sent me this email when I inquired about praying in the four directions:

"The following is what the Brownsville group did the first night they came to Guam. They held a prayer meeting that went into the wee hours of the morning. I joined them, because at that time I was still trying to assess where they were at. Many spent most of the prayer meeting on the floor, trying to cast a demon out of a Christian lady I have known for a long time. They then formed a circle facing each compass direction and prayed that the people of Guam would receive the anointing and that Satan would be bound.' I was dismayed at this prayer meeting and my spirit began from that moment on to be stirred up within me. I was angry with them for the way they treated this lady and tried to cast a demon out of a person I knew to have a solid relationship with Jesus. When she did not respond they became ever more fervent, trying to give her the anointing' by pressing her forehead for the period of at least an hour. Her husband had been to Brownsville and had received the anointing' but she hadn't. I told her a day later that I just wanted her to know that we cared about her and that these people were just over-zealous (not knowing yet, at that point, of their heretical teachings and false anointing). I have seen other groups do this praying into each compass direction' and thought little of it. I figured it was just symbolic. I have later learned that many who do this actually think they are releasing the Spirit' or freeing the Spirit' or plowing spiritual ground' or whatever. I now see this as a very New Age concept and do not approve of it anymore. We do not practice magic as Christians. What we do is obey Christ by example and witness to the community. The Great Commission does not say "go into all nations and pray", it says to go into all nations and preach the gospel. Prayer is important but it needs to be in connection with the preaching and witness of the gospel message. The power is in the message, not some group of people holding hands in a circle and hurling prayers as if their words contain some kind of universal force, commanding the Holy Spirit or angels to do our bidding. We are not here to cast spells, to throw the Holy Spirit at people. The Holy Spirit is a person. He cannot be thrown. We are here as witnesses to the grace of Jesus Christ at work within us, just as the Holy Spirit is a witness to and points us to Jesus Christ.

Sandy Simpson"

In the above eyewitness account, we have the circle, the four directions, the coming of the "Spirit" and the projecting of the Holy Spirit as power, all very typical of what we have described in other parts of this series.


Connected to the four directions of witchcraft and Gnosticism are the Sacred Elements - water, earth, air and fire - and their associated spirits, which are invoked while facing each direction. But there is a noticeable similarity to these things in the "revival." We are all familiar with the "mighty river" in which the revivalists immerse themselves (water,) Rodney Howard-Browne's "Spirit" coming in "like a rushing, mighty wind" (air,) and references to "fire falling," as well as the revival's "Catch the Fire Conferences" (fire.) Although I haven't looked into it, the "earth" element could be connected to the "birthing by the Spirit" or with the healing of bodies within the "revival."

In the witch's circle, the "Spirit" is the carrier of all these elements. In her article, "Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere: Mapping Consciousness with Seven Directions," Selena Fox writes,

"This is the direction of Spirit. Its Nature form is the Divine Soul stuff that links all life together. It is the synthesis of the Elements and the directions. In human life, this is the spiritual realm and the dimension of the Divine in its many forms. In connecting with this direction, pay attention to the core of your being --your inner Self. Honor the Divine as you know it -- Goddesses, Gods, Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Spiritual Guides, Love, Unity in Diversity. Connect with balance, harmony, beauty, wholeness, integrity, and bliss. Healing modalities include dreamwork, inner journeys, understanding inner guidance, worship, ecstatic dance, drumming, chanting, invocations, vision quests, and spiritual service. . . . "This map also makes a distinction between the Element Fire and the unifying Element Spirit. While in some systems Fire and Spirit are one, in this map they are separate, since Spirit is viewed as a synthesis of all Four Elements."(12)

Later, Fox describes a part of her ritual where she invokes "Spirit" in the center of her circle, calling to the Divine Unity through which all things realize oneness with the universe. In the excerpt below, notice the similarity between Fox's call and what is now the main goal of the "revival" - the unity of the churches through the breaking down of denominational walls.

"Finally, stand and face the center, with your arms outstretched before you. Call to the power of Spirit, of Divine Unity. Call the Divine by the name(s) you know it. Then, bring your hands to your heart and experience oneness, balance, and wholeness. Pay attention to any inner guidance that comes to you. Give thanks"(13).


Another commonly reported occurrence in the "revival" is the "Lord" being present to such a degree that people have a hard time standing. Such was the case in our next example, where the "Holy Spirit" publicized students' sins and brought "new" revelations to the body:

"The Holy Spirit came in stronger and stronger as we prayed and interceded. As I looked around nearly all the students were on the floor in the presence of the King of Glory. God then began to give prophetic revelation to many of the student body. So profound were many that we were sure we were in the middle of something gigantic. The anointing was so strong on the stage that Mr. Cava was even having trouble standing up several times as student after student came up to give the word the Lord had given them and they too were having trouble standing erect while speaking to the student body. The Holy Spirit told some students to tell of someone that needed to repent of certain secret sins and others that needed to get serious and to be sure we got the message, Holy Spirit made many students then begin to intercede for those needs. So much crying and wailing going on that no one dare not pay full attention. God wanted our attention and he had it. Mr. Cava never did get to lecture us in those two hours and 45 minutes. The Holy Spirit of God was speaking and he was not playing anymore games. What a day...but then there was the Revival service....."(14)


Power is another typical aspect of the prayer circle. We've already touched on this, but here is an example of power being released at Brownsville "in all directions at once." I think it unlike God to lead a pastor to direct people to receive what God has for them, resulting in their being "electrified," with no one having any idea of what God is doing. All of this happened as a result of a circle being formed "around the sanctuary":

"The Lord was just loving on us and enjoying our praise and worship to him. Suddenly we could feel the anointing so strong and so fresh. Pastor Kilpatrick came to the podium and said he felt the prayer teams should circle around the sanctuary and begin to pray. It was at that time that the Holy Spirit began to move rapidly it seemed in all directions at once. The pastorial (sic) staff then began to go out praying for people with Pastor Kilpatrick leading the way. The prayer team then followed as Steve Hill told people to receive what God had for them. Steve said that this had never happened before on a Wednesday night. The staff as well as prayer team had to do little more than wave a hand in front of people and they began counting carpet fibres as the anointing was so strong. Pastor Kilpatrick and then Steve Hill came up into the balcony. They both prayed for me as they moved through the congregation and I can tell you that they barely put a finger to my forehead when I felt I had put my whole body in a wall socket for a moment. The prayer team members had the same affect. It didn't matter who prayed for you, it was the same anointing everywhere. The worship went on and on and I an not even sure at times if Lyndell Cooley even knew that there was anyone else was even in the sanctuary with him. He leaped, twirled, and danced as if it were just he and Jesus in that mighty fortress of God. Most of the worship team by now were out cold on the stage and yet the choir (those still standing) sang song after song. . . . There was no preaching, no offering, or even an alter (sic) call tonight at all. God was just moving in a way he wanted to move and not how we wanted to move him. I then looked down on to the main floor and I and a friend next to me saw a fine white mist like cloud on the floor around people. it seemed to move with the praise and worship. It was on the stage, up in the choir loft and moving around the main floor area around the stage and engulfing worshippers ever so gently. I saw this once before during intercessors night last year but even then it was up in the lights but tonight the lights looked clear and the cloud was on the floor. 'God is up to something' Steve Hill says. No one seemed to know what God is doing but he is definitely moving us to another level. At one time Steve Hill and Pastor Kilpatrick met on the stage touched and both hit the floor as the ushers had to pick both men up and set them in their chairs for a few minutes. GOD IS SO AWESOME ! What is going to happen next Jesus? I can't wait to see what your (sic) up to next Lord!"(15)

My friend Annie forwarded the following email to me from the New Wine Archives. As before, no one at this meeting was sure what "God" was up to, but "the anointing" was so strong that many showed the typical drunkenness. The writer describes the "Holy Spirit" as being "all over" one woman. Again, these events were vitally connected to a prayer circle:

"The Pastor came forward to speak to us and he couldn't, he just started to weep, you could sense the Holy-Spirit was doing something..Rick asked for the ones who belonged to The Rock to come forward and to start praying for their Pastor and his wife, and to put some of the banners over them.. The banners were beautiful.!!! such a time in the spirit.. Rick asked for any visitors to come forward and to pray on the congregation, as a circle was formed.. Some of us went forward and the anointing was so strong, I was getting drunk and could hardly stand up.!!! I prayed for one particular lady, and asked that the Gifts of the Holy-Spirit would be stirred up in her life and asked the Lord to fill her up.. Down she went the Holy-Spirit all over her. . . ."(16)


These are but a taste of prayer circle testimonies coming out of the "revival." Is a prayer circle Biblical? No; we've shown that in Part Two. Do we have any clues concerning the true source of these prayer circles? I believe I've shown the origins in the first three parts of this series. Should a Christian participate in them? I don't think that's advisable. There are centuries of evidence that a prayer circle is unscriptural and a pagan practice. They are not merely an innovation of the modern church, and they are absolutely not described in God's word. They are occult tools, and if used, will sooner or later bring about demonic manifestations. SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT PRAYER CIRCLES ARE AN OCCULT TOOL ESTABLISHED BY THEIR HISTORY TO BE UNBIBLICAL.

When I used to pray in these circles, I would quiet my mind, concentrate on experiencing God, and be open to Him moving on me to give me goose bumps. These circles are so loving, so comforting, so unifying, and seem so innocent, that many Christians have thoughts similar to what I had when they hold hands to pray with someone. People do need comfort, but they need to be pointed to the Father of all comfort, and receive comfort through the truth of God's word. There is a natural physical comforting that is appropriate and innocent, but stepping into a ritual, no matter how innocent it seems, is another matter. Prayer circles are a ritual, and they should be scarey to us because of the very possible spiritual dangers connected with them.

One last thing: it's not only prayer circles which are unscriptural. There is also no biblical precedent for holding hands to pray, whether or not a circle is formed. I believe we should look into our own hearts to find answers to some questions when we reflexively reach for others' hands. For instance, in holding hands, do we experience a sense of oneness with others and with the spiritual realm? Do we find an expectation rise in us that someone will communicate with us when we perform this act? According to God's word, can we say with assurance that that "someone" will be God? Looking at the history of the use of prayer circles and the absence in God's word of these circles and of holding hands to pray, can we take part in these practices believing there is no appearance of evil in them? Can we say we have proved it to be a good thing in the eyes of God? His word says, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thess 5:21-22.) I honestly don't believe we can say these things are proven to be good.



(1) "The Testimony of Matt D. (Sussex, UK)," 'PROPHETIC/REVIVAL' Discussion, WEBSITES - 'New Zealand Revival Bulletin':-, 'DREAMS & VISIONS' SUPERSITE:- EDITOR - Andrew

(2) Daphne,

(3) Daphne,

(4)Don Milam, " Intercessory Prayer: The Heat Behind the Fire in Pensacola,"

(5) Richard M Riss, New Wine Messages, Fri, 3 Apr 1998, "April 1, 1998 Brownsville Revival School of Ministry,"

(6) New Wine Messages,

(7) Bill Cassada, Catch The Fire II, Moscow, Russia,

(8) Stiver's Homepage,

(9) New Wine Messages, John Spencer's report on Darrel Stott's Ministry, 17 Feb 1998,

(10) Greg Makeham, personal email.

(11) EXCERPT: GLOBAL REVIVAL NEWS, Archives:; Cathy Wood,

(12) Selena Fox, "Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere: Mapping Consciousness with Seven Directions,"

(13) Ibid.

(14) Richard M Riss, New Wine Messages, Fri, 3 Apr 1998, "April 1, 1998 Brownsville Revival School of Ministry,"

(15) Ibid.