40 Days and 40 Nights: Group Holds 24/7 Prayer Session on the Mall Until Election Day

A religious group is spending the 40 days leading up to the election praying on the National Mall.

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Hundreds of thousands of Christian men pray and sing on the Mall at the Promise Keepers rally Saturday Oct. 4, 1997. Like "David's Tent," the event was held to bring awareness to a nation perceived to be in crisis.

Some 3,000 years ago, the biblical King David is said to have ruled Israel, and have hired more than 4,000 musicians, singers, and worshippers to do nothing but pray 24/7 for the entire length of his reign.

Today, a religious group from Washington is seeking to mimic that effort in the 40 days leading up the election, with a 24/7 continuous prayer session on the National Mall through music.

David's Tent DC began praying Wednesday night, with what the group estimates were some 350 people in attendance. Early Thursday, some 10 people were praying under the tent on the Mall as a woman sang a prayer on a stage. A young woman sitting in the back of the tent read Genesis, while a older man sat on the floor with his eyes closed and his hand held in the air. A tourist couple drifted in and then drifted out.

While the musical prayers are expected to go on 24 hours a day, the musicians will be "unplugged" at night time. Prayers will conclude on November 6—Election Day.

Jason Hershey, who organized David's Tent, insists the effort is not just about which presidential candidate to choose.

"The election has created a context in America where everyone is asking: 'Which way is this country heading?'" he says. "We want to put a big target on Jesus... Because we are right now a nation in crisis."

David's Tent is set up on the Ellipse, the grassy area on the Mall located just between the White House and Washington Monument. Hershey says the location choice was deliberate: "We're saying that we honor the authority that is place in our nation, but that we still know that there is a lord of all lords who governs over the affairs of men."

People have come to David's Tent DC from more than 25 different states, according to Hershey, and dozens of churches and ministries are participating.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.