KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–“We can make all our grand plans and after we’ve made them, say to God, ‘Why don’t you bless these plans?’ The right approach is to say, ‘Lord, what is your plan? What is your will?'”
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Philip Roberts offered that challenge Feb. 27 after clearing to give as much time as possible to prayer in the early weeks of his administration. He was joined by John Franklin, prayer consultant of LifeWay Christian Resources; Bruce Schmidt, prayer minister at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga.; and Atlanta businessman Steve Hylan. Roberts’ pastor, Johnny Hunt of Woodstock, Ga., opened the morning in prayer via telephone hook-up as students, staff, faculty, and guests met in the chapel at 7:30 a.m.
Noting that God would honor Roberts’ commitment to make prayer a priority, Hunt asked God to enlarge Midwestern’s territory and influence around the world. He encouraged students “to plan and prepare with the end in mind.”
Franklin drew from Psalm 103 to describe the “upward blessing” of consecration, as participants focused on “The Face of God.” Praying in small groups throughout the room, Franklin urged them to “bless the Lord for all his benefits.” Spontaneous prayers were offered as:
— a student thanked God “for being our Father and calling us to be your children.”
— a professor praised God for his holiness that exposes his (the prof’s) own unholiness.
— a staff member acknowledged God as provider.
— a student thanked God for being “a faithful Shepherd.”
— an alumnus praised God “whose love endures forever.”
At the regular mid-morning chapel hour Schmidt developed an emphasis on illumination through the examination of the “outward blessing,” referring to Numbers 6:22-26. He described the concept of a blessing as a sovereign act of God. “It is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves and through us what we cannot do by ourselves.”
Instead of waiting to eulogize a person at death, Schmidt urged those gathered to pray a blessing on another person by describing how the character of God is reflected in the person’s life. He told of being pulled over by a policeman during one of his early morning jogs and being advised to get more illumination in order to run in the darkness. “It’s a dark day in our world and the way to have more illumination is to reflect the glory of God in our lives.”
Modeling the concept, Schmidt thanked God for having used Roberts to minister to his own family. “I thank God for the characteristic of cheerfulness in your life. You’re a man of great intellect, but the average person sees you as a man of great humor.” Schmidt asked God to use Roberts’ cheerfulness to bring healing to heavy-hearted students who face challenges while preparing for ministry.
Following Schmidt’s example, prayers were offered by:
— a professor expressing gratitude for a Thai minister at Midwestern serving Laotian pastors in the United States in need of ministerial training.
— a student offering thanks for a couple preparing for overseas appointment as missionaries, recognizing the compassion they had shown for other ministers as prayer warriors.
— a Midwestern graduate sharing his appreciation for the diploma studies director to minister to “guys on the low end of the academic scale,” and a current diploma student whose own father was killed thanked the professor for “treating me like a son.”
— a student praying for staff members who worked in the area of student development and opportunities for ministry that had been offered.
— a guest thanking God for “the joy of the Lord” reflected in Schmidt’s life.
— a student wife telling of an administrator who had given godly counsel during a difficult church setting.
— a professor praising a missions prof who “loves the world and its people as Jesus loved the world; shedding tears of grief for people who are dying without Christ.”
— an alumnus telling of being blessed by the bookstore manager’s faithful service.
— the seminary president thanking a staff member for demonstrating humility in serving the school and the Southern Baptist Convention “behind the scenes.”
The daylong prayer emphasis drew to a close during an afternoon session about the “inward blessing” as Roberts drew from 1 Chronicles 4:10 to describe a desire for expanded influence received from “the hand of God.” Specific prayer was offered for the mission of the seminary and the resources required to accomplish that mission.
“Our buildings are aged and inadequate. Our housing is maxed-out to the point that if we start getting more students we don’t know where we’re going to put them. The library needs more space,” Roberts continued as he described the physical needs of the seminary.
“I think we can do effectively the work God has called us to do. What’s most important is that our hearts are right,” he added. Should God allow Midwestern Seminary to have the increasing effectiveness of a growing ministry, Roberts prayed for resources to meet the needs. “Pray that God will raise up people who will take an interest in what we’re doing and supply those material needs that he’s given to them.”
Roberts closed the season of prayer by asking God to provide prospective students and to encourage Midwestern’s faculty “that is second to none.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: DAY OF PRAYER, JOHN FRANKLIN and BRUCE SCHMIDT.