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Floyd: Return to ‘haystack’ of fervent prayer

NASHVILLE (BP) — Southern Baptists must conduct ministry in fervent prayer and repent from a “sophistication and pride” that prevent us from relying on God”s power, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd told the SBC Executive Committee at its Sept. 21 meeting in Nashville.

Using the imagery of the historic 1806 Haystack Prayer Meeting of Samuel Mills and four Williams College classmates in Williamstown, Mass., Floyd called Southern Baptists to return to the haystack of fervent prayer that anticipates a supernatural move of God. The five students had gone to an open field to discuss the urgency of reaching the nations with the Gospel when a sudden rainstorm drove them to find shelter under a haystack in the field.

“We need to stop being so content doing ministry without moments under the haystack,” he said during his presidential address. “We must return to the haystack, calling out to God extraordinarily, experiencing Him supernaturally, and exploding with a robust vision and commitment to advance the Gospel exponentially everywhere.”

He told Southern Baptists to repent from a reliance on self and to renew a belief in God’s power.

“It has always been a mystery to me how Baptists believe in the supernatural, miraculous experience of personal conversion; but after this occurs, we operate in our own power and knowledge naturally,” he said. “I call upon every Southern Baptist tonight, including our entity leaders, state convention leaders, pastors, church leaders and our laypeople to renew our belief and commitment to the power of God.

“It is past time that we repent from our sophistication and pride and get back under the haystack,” he said to some 200 national, state and entity leaders, pastors, employees and their family members in attendance. “It is past time that we live and lead empowered by the almighty power of the Living God!”

Floyd repeated the words of Mills who reportedly said “We can do this, if we will” during the 1806 haystack prayer meeting.

“This reminds me of the words written in 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,'” Floyd said. “Prayer, the power of God, evangelism, and missions all go together. We need to get ourselves back under the haystack.”

Just as God asked the prophets Jeremiah, Amos and Zechariah the question, “What do you see?” Floyd posed the question to Southern Baptists charged with ministering internationally in a world gone awry.

“I am convinced this is the question God is asking us as leaders of our convention: What do you see? More specifically He is asking us, ‘What do you see in the future for the Southern Baptist Convention?'” Floyd said. “This is a question of vision. Vision is seeing it before you see it. We need to see it with our spiritual eyes before we will see it through our physical eyes.”

Floyd answered the question with his vision of Southern Baptists working to awaken America and reach the nation and world with the Gospel.

“Our greatest hope that we can bring in this hour is for us to see God awaken America,” he said, expanding on his vision of a great awakening. “Many of our own would declare us hopeless and doomed. But as God reminded me this past Friday morning in my time with Him, the words of Jeremiah 32:17, ‘Oh, Lord God! You Yourself made the heavens and earth by Your great power and with Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You.'”

Reaching the lost should be a major aim of Southern Baptists in an America where 75 percent of the population is unsaved, and in a world where 3 billion people have not heard the Gospel, Floyd said.

Southern Baptists must not only tithe, but must give sacrificially to finance missions, Floyd said, especially as the International Mission Board is faced with reducing its workforce in response to budgeting shortfalls.

“Southern Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church and cannot dictate what a church gives to the work of the Great Commission through the Cooperative Program,” he said. “However, if we want to change the trajectory of bringing 600-800 missionaries home, and begin deploying aggressively a new wave of missionaries, then our churches must find a way to give more money than ever before through our Cooperative Program.”

Floyd encouraged Southern Baptist state conventions to send to national and international causes at least 50 percent of Cooperative Program collections, and implored pastors to call their memberships to sacrificial giving.

He called on Southern Baptists to attend the 2016 SBC annual meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis, Mo., announcing the annual meeting theme of “Awaken America, Reach the World: Agree, Unite, Pray,” supported by Acts 4:31 as the annual meeting Scripture.

Floyd has already met with about 200 pastors and leaders in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., to cast the vision for the annual meeting. He noted the planning meeting was just one day past the anniversary of the contentious death of Michael Brown that caused rioting in Ferguson.

An official video issuing Floyd’s call to St. Louis can be viewed through vimeo on the SBC website at sbc.net.

“Pray for St. Louis,” he said. “I will see you in St. Louis.”