MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (BP)–Expectations are rising as Southern Baptists wonder what God might do when they gather for an extended time of prayer at a conference in West Virginia this fall.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said he is excited about the “swell of passion for prayer.”
“Our country is in desperate need of a touch from God,” Chapman said in a statement to Baptist Press. “When God’s people devote themselves to passionate prayer for spiritual awakening, who knows what will happen?
“My hope and prayer is that this significant event will be part of a mighty stream that will sweep across our country. The world has yet to see what the Lord can and will do through a convention of believers wholly committed to earnest and repentant prayer,” Chapman added.
About 175 people have registered for the prayer conference at Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg, W.Va., Nov. 3-11, according to Dan Biser, the pastor who envisioned the gathering and spearheaded its planning. The conference is a joint venture between several state conventions and the North American Mission Board.
“My belief is that we are morally sick as a nation because holiness is absent in people of faith. I’m praying and believing that we can and will return to a right relationship with God that will make us holy through Christ,” Biser wrote in a letter sent to state convention executive directors and published as a column in Baptist Press.
Speakers at the West Virginia Prayer Conference, with the theme “Broken Before the Throne,” include Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby, Sammy Tippit, Francois Carr, T.W. Hunt, Al Whittinghill, Frank Page, Greg Frizzell and John Franklin. A two-day women’s conference will feature Tex Tippit, Bobbye Rankin and Elaine Helms.
Biser, pastor of Zoar Baptist Church in Augusta and Fox’s Hollow Baptist Church in Romney — two West Virginia congregations — said several speakers have noted that modern-day busy schedules have led to shorter times of corporate prayer.
“They’ve expressed that most programs or conferences now, because of our mindset, we’ve tried to do it in one or two days,” Biser told BP. “And this event, because it is a lasting event of eight or nine days, it’s going to allow us the opportunity to actually wait before the Lord.
“They believe that this is so necessary, instead of the in-and-out conference. This is a necessary time that we can be still before the Lord, wait for the Lord, and He can deal with us,” Biser said. “It’s almost mandatory. At many other revivals and spiritual awakenings, it has always been a time period of people waiting before the Lord.”
Biser mentioned Page’s emphasis on prayer and spiritual awakening during his tenure as SBC president and said that, along with other calls for prayer at seminaries and the Executive Committee, it adds up to a clear confirmation that now is the time to approach God’s throne together and wait for Him to intervene in circumstances and hearts.
“There is a return and a focus on prayer,” Biser said. “You almost see things coming together and God moving His people to pray in a greater fashion. So being able to see that personally and just know that this is one part of it, [I hope] that God may honor and bless.”
Page, in previous statements to Baptist Press, said the conference “may well be one of the most important events of the year” and could be the catalyst for the type of spiritual awakening he has been prayerfully expecting.
Another confirmation Biser says he has had that the conference is divinely appointed is the fact that a diverse group of speakers with typically full schedules were able to agree to gather at the same time and place.
“It has been truly a miracle just to see how God has put it all together,” Biser said.
The conference falls at a time when many state conventions are having their annual meetings, though, and Biser said that has been a concern. But the first week in November was the common time the speakers had available, so he believes the timing is right for those who will attend. The annual meeting of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists will precede the prayer conference at Westview Baptist, Biser said.
“T.W. Hunt has said, ‘God has His remnant always in place and among us.’ I am seeking to assemble that remnant of intercessors to pray with unity,” Biser wrote in the letter to state leaders. “With such desperate times pressing upon us, should we not carefully consider a desperate plea for prayer and this call for a holy assembly? I am pleading with you to join me in this sincere call to assemble.”
To register and to find more information, visit www.prayerconference2007.com. Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.