Prayer Mountain is a facility built on a piece of elevated, privately owned land for the purpose of prayer, meditation and fasting. The practice of building such a facility is probably rooted in religious monasticism and its monasteries, where entering monks renounces worldly connections to devote themselves solely to spiritual learning and development.
Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Similarly, the practice of monasticism is evident in other religious faiths, most notably in Buddhism, although the expression differs considerably.
The modern practice of building and maintaining Prayer Mountain facilities started in South Korea, where an intense prayer culture sprang by necessity among South Korean Christians of the late 1800s. Faced by strong opposition from state religions and philosophies, namely Buddhism and Confucianism, as well as the mandatory practice of Shinto imposed by the invading forces from Japan, many of these Korean Christians resisted such impositions on their freedom of worship and were subjected to persecution and even public execution. In desperation, these Christians who could not practice their faith openly ascended nearby mountains during the early hours before dawn to fast as they interceded before God for their country. At sundown, they would again ascend these mountain to continue their ardent prayers.
Anyone who had been to South Korea and had witnessed the Korean Christians pray in their unique way (Tunseung-Kido) knows that they tend to wail as if they are storming heaven intensely with their petitions. And so it was that when the early South Koreans ascended the mountains to pray for their country, it was said that anyone who passes by these mountains would hear the agonizing cries of the people, as if the mountains themselves were weeping for Korea. From then on, prayer and fasting have been the hallmark of the strong South Korean Church.
Osanri Cho-Jasil, South Korea
In South Korea, the most notable Prayer Mountain facility is the Choi-Jashil, owned and operated by the Youido Full Gospel Church, the largest Evangelical church in the world. It is built on a privately acquired, naturally elevated land formation in Osanri Jori-myeon, Paju, in northern Gyeonggi province near the Demilitarized Zone.
Instrumental to the building of the facility is Dr. Paul David Yonggi-Cho, founding Executive Pastor of the Youdio Full Gospel Church. Dr. Cho believes that prayer is a tool for the spiritual revival of nations, especially his own country South Korea. Dr. Cho teaches that prayer brings brokenness, which is a requirement for anyone who desires to be used by God to affect changes in his or her country.
The Osanri Choi Ja-Sil Prayer Mountain is only one of the many Prayer Mountain facilities in the region. It was established to provide a secluded place of prayer for those who desire to be alone with God. It is designed to accommodate 10,000 guests at a given time with both western and Korean-style sleeping facilities. It is open not only to Korean Christians but to other Christians from all parts of the world who wish to come and visit.
Prayer Culture of South Korea
First time visitors to South Korea are immediately impressed by the prayer culture that are uniquely Korean. This culture includes the following practices:
Daily Dawn Watch Prayer
Most South Koreans will wake up at 4:30 in the morning to attend daily prayer meetings at the local church house. In Seoul alone, it is immediately apparent that there are churches in nearly every corner, and all of these are filled up every morning by parishioners attending the dawn watch.
Overnight Prayer Watches and Intercession
In many churches in Seoul, Fridays are set aside for overnight intercessory prayers. The Osanri Cho-Jasil itself is host to such overnight prayer watches attended by Christians, not only from South Korea but also from visiting delegates from churches around the world.
A Korean style of corporate prayer characterized by simultaneous, intense and often loud prayer.
Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain, Philippines
Inspired by the history of South Korea's prayer revival, Bread of Life International Ministries, led by its Founding Executive pastor Rev. Caesar "Butch" Conde, built the Touch of Glory retreat center in Antipolo, on a piece of land donated by Tia Arling Gozon, during the height of the Martial-law era, as a place of intercessory prayer for the Philippines. It is the first of its kind in the Philippines, and in South East Asia, and it continuous to draw Evangelical Christians of different churches and parachurch organizations, both in the Philippines and from other South East Asian countries, to pray for the Church in the Philippines, and in other countries.
- Osanri Prayer Mountain, Korea
- Antipolo Prayer Mountain, Philippines
- Prayer - the Key to Revival by Dr. David Paul Yonggi-Cho
- Prayer That Brings Revival by Dr. David Paul Yonggi-Cho, pdf file