NASHVILLE (BP)—Frank S. Page, president and “chief encouragement officer” of the SBC Executive Committee, is asking Southern Baptists to come together in 2013 for a year of emphasis on prayer “like none we’ve ever seen before.”
“For some time, God has been burdening my heart about prayer and spiritual awakening,” Page wrote in a Dec. 11 First-Person article in Baptist Press. “I talked about this a great deal when I was president of the Southern Baptist Convention (2006-08). I saw then what was happening in our nation, in our churches and in our convention. That deep sense of need for revival in our land has only gotten stronger over these past six years.”
This is not a new message for Page. On the SBC President’s page, posted after his election in 2006, Page wrote, “Across the nation I have spoken about the three ‘R’s’. I have thanked God for the push for doctrinal rightness. I thank God for the conservative resurgence which has brought us to this point. However, we must, with equal passion, attack the issues of relevancy and revival. If we do not have God’s reviving hand upon us, we will move into a precipitous decline from which we will never recover.”
Page will be enlisting others to help elevate the call to prayer throughout the year, sharing historical insights about prayer and spiritual awakening; first person accounts about spiritual breakthroughs; organized prayer ministry initiatives such as GudeStone’s “Widow’s Might”; focused prayer reminders such as prayer for the U.S. Supreme Court justices as they consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8; as well as pastoral and theological reflections.
Page noted he is not alone in his call for prayer and spiritual awakening. Earlier this year, current SBC president Fred Luter addressed the SBC Committee on Order of Business expressing his desire to see spiritual awakening and revival sweep across the SBC and the nation. Citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 and the high priestly prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17, Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said it is his “heart’s desire” for this convention to “work together as one.”
“This will not happen unless there’s passionate, purposeful revival,” Luter told the committee. “My theme will be centered around revival and prayer. Prayer is the great equalizer, the great energizer.”
Luter also has underscored the SBC Call to Prayer scheduled for the month of January. In a Baptist Press story today, Luter said the call to prayer is “a pivotal opportunity as churches cast a vision for ministry in 2013. This coming January we will have the chance to gather as a denomination and center our thoughts and prayers on the lost in our communities and around the world.”
Tom Elliff, president of the SBC International Mission Board, has noted the urgency of prayer and spiritual awakening in addressing the IMB’s board of trustees. “The truth of the matter is that if we don’t experience spiritual awakening we will forfeit our capacity to effectively partner with others in carrying out the Great Commission,” he said at the board’s fall 2011 trustee meeting.
“[Spiritual] awakening is a missions issue, because if we don’t have an awakening in the hearts of Southern Baptists, then the pool out of which we fish for missionaries ... gets smaller and smaller,” Elliff explained. “We’ll just become another denomination that had its day and has now slipped off into irrelevancy, and when people say ‘Southern Baptist Convention,’ they will probably say it with a yawn.”
Such an awakening, Elliff noted, will require a “totally different” kind of prayer, one that rests on God’s character rather than our own.
“I’m afraid that so much of our praying is a shot at getting something done by God with the thought that if He doesn’t come through we’ve got another plan. Folks, if God doesn’t come through, we don’t have a plan.”
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, echoed a similar message. “We’re at a pivotal point as Southern Baptists as we do the work to penetrate lostness in North America and around the world,” he said. “We are a people of action and sacrifice, but we also need to be a people of wholehearted prayer. I hope to see amazing things happen as God works through a faithfully-praying people.”
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