Pastors, church leaders and other participants came from numerous states and as far as India for equipping and encouragement on prayer. The 9Marks Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., Sept. 27-28 featured seven sessions, several panel discussions and singing.
A 9Marks panel talks about the importance of prayer during the annual event at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 27-28.
Brian Davis, pastor of Risen Christ Fellowship in Philadelphia, opened with the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. He highlighted the necessity and quality of Christ by comparing both women’s same love for, but different devotion to, Jesus.
“We’re choosing the good thing,” he said. “We have a good God who commands us to do good things.
“It is good for us to remember, just because we’re saved does not mean we love Jesus like we should or as much as we could.”
John Onwuchekwa, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Ga., spoke about the power of prayer.
“God doesn’t just tell us how to pray, but He tells us what to pray for,” Onwuchekwa said. He pointed out the difference between The Lord’s Prayer spoken by individuals for themselves and spoken by church members in community.
If “somebody from your church loses their job and you get a promotion, do you know what we do? We all come together and say, ‘God answered the prayer to give us the bread that we need,’” he said. “‘God, forgive us of our sins.’ Do you know what that does? It eliminates grudges.”
Prayer is to be a “close companion of your life,” SEBTS President Danny Akin said, emphasizing the importance of exercising prayer as a regular habit.
“We give thanks in all circumstances, we do not give thanks for all circumstances … in all things, our God is working His will in our lives,” Akin said.
Prayer is also practiced through singing, said hip-hop artist Shai Linne, who aimed to expand understanding of what prayer is.
“One common, encouraged, exhorted form of prayer is singing praises to the Lord,” he said, directing attention to Isaiah 12.
“If you think about the drama of redemption, you have the writer who is God Himself, you have the main actor who is the Lord Jesus Christ, you have the supporting actors who are the church,” he said. “But the drama of redemption is a musical.”
H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., wrapped up the first day considering three spiritual priorities that are to drive prayers with and for one another: the Word of the Lord, the faithfulness of the Lord and the direction of the Lord – “to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ,” as Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3.
Mark Dever, 9Marks president and senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C., delivered the last two messages on Saturday morning.
Dever offered nine practical statements about prayer: the public prayer life of a church should be the outgrowth of personal, private prayer; some prayer practices will vary; encouraging a collective verbal response like “amen” can help build congregational prayer; different kinds of public prayer, whether long, short, planned or spontaneous, help build the local church; it is good to focus one prayer on praising God; one prayer should be of confession; dedicate one prayer to asking for God’s help; prayer should not only mark public services but elders’ meetings and staff meetings; and expect each other to regularly attend prayer gatherings.
“[The] Lord Jesus knows how inconsistent and dispirited our prayer lives can become for us. He knows that the long wait for desired answer can weaken us. So the parable is not law, it is gracious help,” Anyabwile said about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18.
Anyabwile urged participants to keep on praying, reminding them that “the effectiveness of prayer cannot be measured by immediate results.”
“If you want to cut down a tree, you don’t stop chopping until the tree falls. If you want to be effective in prayer, you don’t stop praying until the Lord acts.”
Sessions included panels in which conference speakers reflected on each other’s exhortations and further explored topics such as spiritual disciplines and practical ways to implement prayer in local churches and individual lives.