NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptists are being urged to pray specifically each week for the United States, its leaders and the nation’s military, according to a joint statement issued by the presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention and SBC Executive Committee.
“We call upon the 16 million Southern Baptists and 42,000 Southern Baptist churches spread across this land to commit themselves to regular, specific, and focused prayer for our nation and for its leaders in these trying days,” reads the statement, signed by SBC President James Merritt and SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Morris H. Chapman.
In addition to the statement, Chapman announced the creation of a special Internet prayer site at inallthingspray.net. A prayer guide is being prepared to assist those who will commit to this investment of time and spiritual energy to pray pointedly and with purpose.
A multimedia tribute featuring the music of Michael W. Smith and the photography of Baptist Press is available at acalltoprayer.net.
The statement follows in its entirety:
“On September 11th, we issued a statement, which said in part, ‘We call upon our Southern Baptist family everywhere to begin a prayer vigil; to go upon our knees for the families of the victims of these attacks, for our nation’s leaders, and for our beloved country, that God would turn the hearts of our nation back to Him.’
“We believe it is time to give new emphasis to that call to prayer. The need for faithful vigil is not less today than it was on that day — if anything, it is greater.
“In times of crisis, God’s people have often been called to pray, and to repent, and to seek the face of God for His blessing. In a time of great national disaster, Joel exhorted his people to ‘sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry to the Lord.’ (Joel 1:14, 2:15)
“Another illustration comes to us from about 800 years before the coming of Christ. Ancient Judah was in mortal danger as vicious enemies threatened the peace and safety of their land. Their leader called them together and cried out to the Lord, ‘If a calamity comes upon us, whether a sword of judgment or plague or famine, we will stand here in your (God’s) presence, in the temple that bears your name, and we will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ (II Chronicles 20:9). In humility he cried before God, and said, ‘Lord we have no power, and we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.’ (II Chronicles 20:12). That thoughtful and godly leader modeled the approach needed today.
“These two examples encourage us to call God’s people to serious, focused, and constant prayer. This hour in America is a great test of our moral and spiritual character. As individuals and as a nation, we have wandered very far from the Lord, and need to come home to Him now. We have no right to expect others to pray when we do not do so. No one in the nation is more responsible to pray and seek the face of God than are the people of our churches.
“We call upon the 16 million Southern Baptists and the 42,000 Southern Baptist Churches spread across this land to commit themselves to regular, specific, and focused prayer for our nation and for its leaders in these trying days. We are specifically asking that individual Southern Baptists devote a quarter hour, a half hour, an hour, or more, each week praying for our nation, its leaders, and our military men and women who are in harm’s way. We also ask each Southern Baptist pastor, in churches large and small, to devote a special time of prayer for our nation in at least one Sunday service each month. Many are already doing that, and more. We further invite all believers of good will to join us in this work of God.
“The Lord said, ‘Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.’ Now — together, join us in this holy work!”