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FLOYD: Bringing prayer back

Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Do our churches and the Southern Baptist Convention talk more about evangelism and prayer than practice evangelism and prayer? Our annual statistics show this is definitely true about evangelism. Yet, prayer itself does not have the same type of visible scoreboard of evaluation as evangelism.

The Bible says this about Jesus Christ: “… He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23) If Jesus Himself sensed the deep need to pray and fellowship with God, how much more we need to pray!

A nod or a necessity

Our churches and Southern Baptist Convention give an acknowledging nod regarding prayer. It is rare to see a meeting begin without a brief prayer. We believe in it, yet our convictions regarding prayer seem to deepen in actual priority and practice only when the diagnosis is bad, the problem is overwhelming, or the crisis seems to lead to great loss.

Prayer deserves much more than a simple nod because prayer is an absolute necessity. Not just in our personal lives and church worship services, but also in our Southern Baptist Convention. The greatest action we can take is to pray.

Prayer does not eliminate other actions. If a person needs a job, we do not simply pray for a job, we also take the action of trying to find a job. But prayer must become a matter of priority and prominence in your life, your church and in our Southern Baptist Convention.

Bringing prayer back into our churches and our Southern Baptist Convention

Christians want prayer back in the schools; however, we ought to first bring prayer back into the worship services of our churches and into our Southern Baptist Convention! Most churches spend more time promoting the ministries of the church than praying in their worship services. Many Baptist gatherings I have been involved in follow this same pattern. It injects a sense of “let’s move on to more important things” rather than taking prayer seriously like it is the necessary air we breathe in order to live and thrive.

Yet, Jesus wants His church to be a house of prayer for all the nations! When is the last time you experienced an entire Sunday morning worship service dedicated to prayer? Has this ever occurred? Has prayer received more than a small focus in any worship service you have attended recently?

If not, why? If we are not filling God’s churches with passionate prayers that are focused with purpose, what are we filling our worship services with? Could it be that we are not seeing that our greatest need is for the power of God to intervene in our lives, our church, our convention and our nation? Could it be that we do not connect the deep need for prayer with the church’s greatest mission — to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations?

Four characteristics of building prayer into churches and our Southern Baptist Convention

Some churches are committing an entire worship service to the ministry of prayer. Will your church do this soon? At least a decade ago, I remember leading the entire staff of one of our national entities of our Southern Baptist Convention in an entire day of focused prayer.

America is falling apart. The world is becoming more dangerous daily. The church is way too content to keep on doing ministry without the power of God. Now is the time to pray! When we set aside special times to pray, implement these four characteristics:

1. Teaching

Each prayer time needs to be based on a teaching time from God’s Word. We stand on His Word, not on our words or passions.

2. Principles

Each prayer time should be focused on principles like repentance, revival, surrender to the Lordship of Christ, the filling of the Spirit, spiritual awakening, or reaching the world for Christ beginning in your own community. Additionally, include specific principles that relate to your specific needs contextually.

3. Led by the Spirit

Worship and prayer moments should be led as God’s Spirit leads, not necessarily according to the order of service. We plan specifically, but always leaving latitude to follow God’s leadership spontaneously.

4. Expression

Hymns and worship songs are given to us to express our worship of Jesus Christ as our Lord. These can be powerful expressions as transition moments, moving from one prayer time to the other. We see David model this in the Psalms.

Just imagine

What could happen in your church if an entire Sunday morning service was turned into a prayer service? You could experience God moving in ways unlike you have seen in a long time, perhaps ever. People could come to Christ. Personal repentance could result in a releasing of the Spirit upon your church, unleashing the church to greater worship and ministry that is on mission with God.

Here is what I know: If we do not plan to pray, we will not pray!

It is past time for us to prioritize prayer, both personally and in the church, as well as in our Southern Baptist Convention. For far too long, we have seen what we can do; it is time for us to see what God can do. This can only happen when we pray.

Acts 4:31, “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.”

This is why the entire evening session on Tuesday, June 14 at the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis will be committed to prayer. We will begin at 6:30 p.m. This prayer gathering is far more important than eating with friends, conducting secondary meetings, or attending a Cardinals baseball game. Please make plans now to attend.

    About the Author

  • Ronnie Floyd