EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first appeared in Baptist Press on Nov. 21 of this year.
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — In January, Southern Baptists are again being called to a time of prayer and spiritual awakening. The Southern Baptist Convention Call to Prayer is an opportunity to focus on praying missionally.
“I can’t think of a better way for our churches to start the New Year than to be in prayer for our families, our churches, our new church plants and our efforts to reach the unreached people groups of the world,” said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board.
“NAMB is pleased to have the privilege to coordinate this effort this year. We want to make it easy for every Southern Baptist pastor to lead his congregation in focused prayer,” Ezell said. “I can’t think of anything more essential in our efforts to reach North America and the world.”
NAMB will provide resources to assist churches in participating in the prayer emphasis.
“We are encouraging Southern Baptists to begin the New Year praying for spiritual awakening that will penetrate lostness,” said Al Gilbert, executive director of NAMB’s Love Loud ministry. “Continuing in the spirit of what happened at the SBC in Phoenix, NAMB and the IMB are working together to provide specific ways for people to pray for our communities, our nation and our world.
“We are providing tools for pastors to use anytime in January. These tools will assist church leaders in calling their people to prayer,” Gilbert said.
State convention prayer leaders will assist churches in their states to implement Call to Prayer strategies. Roger Byrd with the California Southern Baptist Convention is one of those prayer advocates.
“Our desire is to see our people, our churches praying for God’s movement among us,” Byrd said. “The most important thing as an outcome from the SBC Call to Prayer is that our churches will pray together in unity of spirit. We desire people to pray that God’s Holy Spirit will be working among us, … leading us to reach our communities for Christ.”
Suggestions for the Call to Prayer include five areas of emphasis:
— My Family and Friends. Select a friend or family member and pray that they would come to faith in Christ.
— My Church. Select a church staff member, volunteer or ministry, and pray for them in their efforts to penetrate lostness.
— My Nation. Select a Send North America city and pray for the church planting efforts in that area (www.namb.net/cities).
— My World. Select an unreached people group and pray that the Gospel would be advanced among these people (www.imb.org/prayerthreads).
— My Southern Baptist Convention. Selected a national, state or local leader and pray for guidance in leading the Southern Baptist Convention.
Byrd, along with most SBC prayer leaders, is a member of PrayerLink, the SBC fellowship of prayer advocates. The group’s members include representatives from all SBC entities, each SBC state convention and association, the Canadian National Baptist Convention and other prayer ministries.
Claude King, PrayerLink representative for LifeWay Christian Resources, said, “Throughout North America, leaders, denominations and ministries are calling for days and seasons of prayer and fasting for nearly every conceivable prayer target. We probably have more people praying than ever in history, and our culture seems to be growing darker and more ungodly than ever.
“As we seek to mobilize people to pray to penetrate the lostness in our families, with friends, in cities, our nation and the world, let’s keep in mind the wonderful promise from James 5:16 that the intense prayers of righteous people are powerful and effective,” King said.
“Let’s help each other prepare ourselves to be right with God and one another so when we pray we pray with penetrating power.”
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. To plan your church’s Call to Prayer, visit www.namb.net/sbccalltoprayer.