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Fasting & Prayer ’99 global reach taps satellite, Internet connections

HOUSTON (BP)–Several Southern Baptists leaders were among the international Fasting & Prayer Gathering ’99’s key speakers Nov. 11-13 in Houston’s Astroarena. The sixth annual rally brought together prominent Christian leaders from a number of denominations and evangelistic groups to pray, read Scripture and talk about pressing concerns, while fasting for 42 hours.
Co-sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ and Mission America, the event was broadcast live each day via satellite and RealVideo on the Internet to churches and homes around the world, immediately connecting Christians in the Astroarena with Christians in nearly 40 nations. As of Nov. 13, organizers knew of 7,594 who had registered that they were participating in their homes, watching events in Houston live via the Internet. Thousands more participated in one of 1,362 registered church satellite broadcast locations and 805 home satellite sites.
This year’s event also included a SleepFast specifically for teens. While more than 4,000 teens were packed into the Astroarena for an all-night prayer meeting, tens of thousands watched the activity live on the Internet or by satellite connections in their church fellowship halls or gyms, as well as homes. Church youth groups from every state and several countries had preregistered with rally organizers before Nov. 11.
In light of the recent shootings involving young people at Columbine High School in Colorado and Wedgwood Baptist Church in Texas, “Our greatest hope is to repent through fasting and prayer, and I encourage youth everywhere to join with us,” said Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, in a news release before the event.
“There has never been a time when the need for God’s intervention in America and the world has been greater,” said Bright, who began the annual Fasting & Prayer Gatherings in 1994. “It is critically important that Christians seek [God] together in fasting, prayer, humility and contrition, just as they did in Bible times.”
Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, spoke Nov. 11 during the opening session live via satellite from his office in Alpharetta, Ga. Although he and the thousands of other Christians participating via the satellite and the Internet couldn’t be physically present in Houston’s Astroarena, he said, “God is present everywhere — and everywhere present.”
Describing five times when he personally experienced God’s presence, Reccord said he finds comfort in knowing God was present in each person’s forming, and he is present in their struggling, their hurting, their celebrating and even in their running away from him. He concluded his five-minute session by asking participants to pray specifically for people they know who currently are living in one of those seasons of life.
Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn., was a keynote speaker Nov. 12, assigned to reflect on the Lord’s Prayer in the New Testament. Speaking live in the Astroarena, Rogers said when Christians pray through the Lord’s Prayer, they should think about the prayer’s person, purpose, provision, pardon, protection and praise. In the Lord’s Prayer, Rogers said he sees “the sympathy of a Father who hears us and the sovereignty of a King who will answer.”
While focusing on the person of the prayer, God the Father, it is essential for Christians to remember they can never pray effectively unless they desire the purpose of their every prayer to be the will of God. “The prayer that gets to heaven is the prayer that starts in heaven. We just close the circle,” he said.
In praying for provision, Rogers said, “Sometimes we need something we don’t want, and sometimes we want something we don’t need.” All the while, he said, God yearns to meet every need, but sometimes “you have not because you ask not,” Rogers said.
Concerning the pardon of the prayer, he said Christians must be absolutely certain their hearts are clean of sin, for “God would be encouraging me to sin if I had sin in my heart while I prayed.”
Since Satan has made plans to sabotage the lives of Christians and use them “sort of as pawns in the cosmic war,” Rogers said Christians must consistently pray for deliverance from sin, ahead of time, rather than after the fact. Therefore, he said, the Lord’s Prayer should not be the prayer that ends the day, but should be said first thing in the morning, as the key to the entire day.
And if Christians ever should run out of things to pray about, they can always start praising God, Rogers said, “then you’ll have an ocean to swim in,” noting the Lord’s Prayer both begins and ends with praise.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, also was in Houston to speak live during Fasting & Prayer ’99. He led the audience in an impromptu singing of the closing lines of the classic “Lord’s Prayer” hymn as he got up to speak Nov. 12 following one of the many prayer sessions scheduled between speakers and musicians.
In his five-minute address, Chapman spoke about what he termed the most penetrating question he was ever asked: “What is your passion?” He then asked participants not only that question, but also, “Who is your passion?”
As he walked his listeners through the apostle John’s account of his vision of heaven and the end times, described in the Book of Revelation, Chapman said Christians should want Jesus Christ “to become the passion of our lives” and “a magnificent obsession.”
Chapman said the current generation “has yet to see the fire [of Pentecost] fall upon this nation.” That first occurrence of such power, he said, came after a group of men and women prayed “earnestly, expectantly, urgently” for 10 days, asking God to send his power upon them. Christians today also “have available all the power we need to shake this generation,” he said. As the tremendous growth and spread of the early church never would have happened without the initial preparation and prayer of that handful of Christians, Chapman urged Christians today to pray in the same way and not to depend on anything else.
“Regardless of how educated we may be,” Chapman said, “our efforts are still in the flesh without God’s power.”
Advertisements for the extended fast included a warning for those with health concerns to be sure to contact their physician before starting the fast.
Among other speakers during Fasting & Prayer ’99 were Bill McCartney, Kay Arthur, Dennis Rainey, Janet Parshall, John Ed Mathison, Evelyn Christenson and students from both Wedgwood Baptist Church and Columbine High School. Steve Green was the featured musician.
A recording of the event is archived at www.fastingprayer.com.

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  • Debbie Moore