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FIRST-PERSON: The prayer assignment

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GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) – Southern Baptists believe in prayer. And while most of us readily admit our own prayer lives could improve, we are, nevertheless, a praying people. In June, in Nashville, Southern Baptists took another important step in affirming our dependence upon the power of prayer. We voted to give the SBC Executive Committee the “prayer assignment.”

Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Executive Committee, has said, “the addition of a ministry assignment for prayer will enable the EC to provide strategic leadership for prayer in the SBC.”

The keyword in that statement seems to me to be “strategic.” What can we do if we work together on common goals? When the common goal is prayer, the opportunities are limitless.

Why is the prayer assignment important? In Southern Baptist life, “assignments” define the purposes of the entity. Until June 2021, no SBC entity had been “assigned” the prayer ministry, even though everyone believes in and practices prayer. Mark Twain once famously quipped, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” The old adage suggests some things are easier to talk about than to act upon. Every believer, every church, every entity, and every agency in the SBC express belief in the power of prayer, but until now no one entity was ever given the responsibility or “assignment” of prayer.

Prayer appears so ubiquitous it seems to be everywhere and belongs to everyone and therefore it can be taken for granted. In our case, the danger is not that we don’t believe in prayer, but that we haven’t intentionally harnessed our energies. In other words, “everybody’s business can become nobody’s business.” Now, however, since one entity has been assigned the strategic ministry of prayer, the focus created can be intense.

What do I mean? Let me give you an example. An incandescent light bulb essentially sends light in every direction at once. A laser light, on the other hand, emits light in a focused beam. If you’ve ever used a laser pointer you know the results are staggeringly different than achieved from the soft light glowing from a living room lamp. A room light bulb might be 60 watts and seem appropriate for medium brightness, while a standard laser pointer emits only a 0.005 watt beam, but the brightness is intense because the laser is focused. Imagine a prayer strategy that was like a laser, rather than incandescent, in focus and intensity. Ask yourself, how might tens of thousands, or millions, of Southern Baptists affect church planting, evangelism and missions if we were all rallied and resourced to pray together for big, bold, specific, God-sized objectives?

The late Jack Taylor once observed, “If prayer is anything, prayer is everything.” If we believe that, then we have an open door of opportunity to join a prayer movement through our Great Commission-focused churches. What can we do in the SBTC? How can we help?

To get the SBC-wide prayer strategy started, the Executive Committee has launched an initial way to encourage prayer, and thousands of people have already signed up. I joined the “Vision 2025” prayer team and I encourage you to join, too. All you have to do to join this team is text “VISION” to 90885. That’s it. Every day you receive a text message with a brief prayer request. The team has also offered pastors additional resources for leading a praying church and other help for all people wishing to grow in their prayer life.

I would love to see thousands of believers sign up. This is only the beginning, but it’s a great place to start. Join us today and together we will pray for spiritual awakening in our time and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It’s time for all of us to accept our own prayer assignment.

Kie Bowman is president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church, both in Austin.

    About the Author

  • Kie Bowman

    Kie Bowman is senior pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas and the SBC National Director of Prayer.

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