SBC Day of Prayer and Solemn Assembly
by Mark Kelly
Southern Baptists are being called to "solemn assembly" in January 2011 — a time of seeking God in prayer and repentance — by key leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Following the lead of Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, members of the SBC's Great Commission Council — which is composed of the heads of the Convention's entities and the WMU — issued a letter November 12 asking Southern Baptists to observe a Sunday in January as a day of prayer "that in the sight of God and His witnesses we might renew our commitment to Christ and the Great Commission."
"We live in desperate times. Our lives, our families, our churches, our communities, and our nation reflect the ruinous effects of our sinful ways. To some degree we all have pursued the things of the world and stand guilty of worshipping the created, not the Creator," the letter said. "… We must repent and come before the Father with a contrite heart. We need a heal-the-land kind of blessing."
In a video posted on www.pray4sbc.com, Wright said the call to solemn assembly "is about returning to our first love of Jesus Christ."
"In our Convention, in our churches, and in our lives, we have allowed materialism, we've allowed hedonism, workaholism and busyness, technology obsession, all kinds of other interests of the world to just invade and, really, become bigger priorities than the priority of our relationship with Jesus Christ," Wright said. "We need to fall in love with Jesus again in a new and fresh way. We need to return to our first love."
Wright said gathering in solemn assembly — an element of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report adopted during the June 2010 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando — could be the turning point for renewed passion among Southern Baptists for Christ's Great Commission command to make disciples among all the world's people.
"It is my hope that, by following the charge the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has put before our Convention … people by the thousands — hopefully by the millions — around the Southern Baptist Convention will return to the first love of Jesus Christ."
The solemn assembly call to prayer and repentance was established in the Old Testament as a gathering in which the people of God were called to account and called to prayer, said Frank Page, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
"It is time for Southern Baptists to join in this biblical pattern of serious spiritual accountability and praying for our nation, our families, and our life like never before," Page told Baptist Press. "Around this nation is a small group of people who are committed to serious, earnest prayer. I have seen these pockets of serious prayer warriors as I have traveled around this nation. Let us join them in a call to our Lord for a genuine Holy Spirit revival. It is our only hope!"
Page said his cross-country travels have impressed on him the urgent need for concerted prayer.
"In 2006, when I was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I began an immediate call for prayer and spiritual awakening among our churches and people. I continue to believe that it is our only hope," Page said. "Having spent the last four years traversing this nation, and even meeting with the last two presidents of the United States, I can truly tell you that we are more in need of prayer now than ever before.
"I am delighted the Great Commission Resurgence 'challenge' section reminded us we need to be coming before the Lord to seek spiritual awakening," Page said. "Second Chronicles 7:14 tells us what we need to do. It's time we do it!"
Resources for Day of Prayer
by Carol Pipes
In preparation for the SBC Day of Prayer in January, the North American Mission Board has launched a Web site with resources to help Southern Baptists answer the call to prayer.
"If Southern Baptists return to biblical, obedient prayer, not only will it bring God's power as we have not seen it in a long time, but I believe it will change us in ways we cannot imagine," said Kevin Ezell, NAMB's president. "It's our privilege to support Bryant Wright's call to prayer in this way."
The Web site www.namb.net/sbcdayofprayer provides an eight-step guide on how to incorporate a prayer emphasis one Sunday during the month of January.
"Thanks to the PrayerLink leadership, we've developed a simple one-day plan for pastors to introduce prayer through the application of solemn assembly in their churches," said Richard Leach, NAMB's team leader for servant and ministry evangelism.
PrayerLink, the work group of the state prayer coordinators across North America, developed several resources that are available online. The prayer guides offer suggestions on what to incorporate into a time of concentrated prayer.
Other Web site resources to help churches in the observance include: "Guidelines for Fasting and Prayer," "How to Lead a Solemn Assembly," and "Church Renewal Prayer Weekend."
PrayerLink leaders will be introducing these and other resources in their states, according to Leach.
"It's been over one hundred years since the last Great Awakening," said Leach. "In 1905, Christians began to pray because of economic stress, debauchery, everything that we see in our world today.
"We have had in this nation, over the last thirty years, a growing call to prayer," Leach said. "It's been coming from churches, denominations, and other Christian organizations. I pray we are going to see another awakening in our nation."
Copies of all resources can be downloaded and found online at: www.namb.net/sbcdayofprayer.