NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A call for Southern Baptists and other believers to engage in 40 days of prayer beginning in late September has been issued by the SBC’s North American Mission Board and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
NAMB President Geoff Hammond and ERLC President Richard Land are hopeful that the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal will pay spiritual dividends for families, churches and the nation. Hammond described it as “a strategic opportunity for Southern Baptists to join hands in praying for our nation, asking the Lord to grant sweeping repentance, renewal and spiritual awakening.”
The cooperative effort of the two Southern Baptist entities was borne out of a burden at the ERLC for the spiritual health of individual Americans as well as the less-than-healthy spiritual state of the union.
While the number of “born-again” evangelicals in the United States has increased, Land said the culture is influencing the people of God on many fronts more than the people of God are influencing the culture. “Too often, instead of being ‘salt’ and ‘light,’ we are being salted and lit by the secular culture around us,” Land said.
“Our churches are in need of a truly spiritual revival and our nation is in need of a great movement of God’s Spirit,” Land said.
Hammond noted that while Americans are focused on the political choices before them this fall as well as the state of the economy, there also is “a deep spiritual concern.”
“Unless God sends revival and unless He sends renewal, we are not going to see the changes in North America that we long for,” Hammond said.
The 40/40 Prayer Vigil is set to begin Wednesday, Sept. 24, and conclude on the Sunday morning, Nov. 2, before Election Day. According to the website for the vigil, iLiveValues.com/prayer, the vigil begins with 37 days of daily prayer and concludes with a recommended 40 hours of around-the-clock intercession during the final three days of the initiative. Those who cannot participate in the concluding 40 hours of continuous prayer can pick an hour during each of the last three days to complete their 40 days of prayer, Land noted.
More information on the prayer vigil, as well as a downloadable daily prayer guide, is available online at the iLiveValues.com/prayer website. Each page in the guide references Scripture relevant to that day’s prayer theme, which ranges from prayer for revival to prayer for renewal and wisdom. A Spanish-language version of the prayer guide also will be available on the website.
Before Christians can impact others’ lives, they must first be changed by God’s touch, Land said. “We must pray for and experience spiritual regeneration, or spiritual renewal on the part of believers, and then recognize and accept our responsibilities as Christians to be salt and light in our families, our churches, our communities and our nation,” he explained.
Hammond noted, “We must be united in our prayer and acknowledge that God is the one who has to do the work in and through us. If we work in our own strength, we won’t make any progress. When we pray we will be more dependent on God, more aligned with His will, more fruitful in our work.” Hammond added that God says in Scripture that He “chooses to demonstrate His power in and through the prayers of His people.”
It is not happenstance that the vigil ends just days before Election Day, the two Southern Baptist leaders confirmed.
“As Election Day approaches, we as Christians know we need to be committed to praying for the outcome and for those who will be elected to lead us,” Hammond said. “But milestone moments like this in our history should remind us of the importance of asking God for spiritual awakening in our land.”
“As Christians, we need God to give us wisdom as we select the next president of the United States,” Land said. “People must realize that government at every level is a lagging social indicator,” he added. “True and lasting change in our nation will come from spiritual renewal in the hearts of America’s citizens, not from government programs.”
Dwayne Hastings is a vice president with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.