[Editor’s Note: This essay resides within Anderson Blanton’s “The Materiality of Prayer,” a portal into Reverberations’ unfolding compendium of resources related to the study of prayer.]

James Bielo’s recent essay on walking prayer inspired me to think about other instances of prayer and communal peregrination in the history of American Christianity, especially the “prayer line.” In terms of mass crowd phenomena and the spatial organization of bodies during the performance of prayer, the prayer line was one of the most significant twentieth century manifestations of communal prayer. During the charismatic tent revivals of the 1940’s and 50’s, the prayer lines became so massive that certain techniques were adopted to organize the multitudes in need of healing prayer. Structuring the throngs within the space of the giant canvas tent, “prayer card” systems helped organize the potentially excessive revival crowds into single-file lines that followed the inner perimeter of the revival tent and ended in a serialized passage across the elevated platform of the healer.