A God-initiated prayer movement among Southern Baptists spurred a major focus on prayer at Black Church Leadership & Family Conference July 20-24 in Ridgecrest, N.C., prayer mobilizer Gary Frost told Baptist Press.
Frost, North American Mission Board vice president for the Midwest Region and Prayer, led conference organizers to devote to prayer the July 28 conference-wide Bible study, including corporate, small-group and altar prayers among the 600 gathered at 11 a.m. in Spilman Auditorium.
Recognizing the focus on prayer and spiritual awakening by Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd since his 2014 election, Frost noted revival is not about the work of any one individual.
“The history of revival is when you attach it to a person, it can begin to fizzle,” Frost said. “It’s like a spontaneous movement and it uses various leaders at different times. And so we want to make sure we keep Christ as our focal point and no individual’s revival.”
The service was based on the prayer of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20, and included teachings from Nehemiah 1, Psalm 51, Ephesians 1 and Romans 12.
Photo by Diana Chandler
Light illuminates the face of Debra Pounds of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans during a small-group prayer at the 2015 Black Church Leadership & Family Conference.
“When the Moabites, the Ammonites (and) Mount Seir were coming against the children of Israel, [Jehoshaphat] didn’t try to figure out a strategy; he didn’t try to get resources, he simply acknowledged the reality, ‘Lord we don’t know what to do. Our eyes are on you,’“ Frost told Baptist Press in explaining the prayer emphasis. “And right now, many times in denominational life when things become difficult, or as the world gets darker, we think we need more strategies, more money or whatever. And God uses strategies or money, but we need to know what God wants us to do. We have to stop acting as if we have the answers.”
Corporate prayer leaders during the service were K. Marshall Williams, president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC; James McCarroll, pastor of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Rickie Bradshaw, pastor of First Southwest Baptist Church in Houston,; and Kim Hardy, an author, teacher and wife of Dexter Hardy, teaching pastor of [email protected], a mission of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.
The leaders directed worshippers into groups of three or four each for audible prayers, drew them to the altar, and also offered Scriptural insight.
“The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” Williams told worshippers. “It’s not moral combat, it’s spiritual wickedness in high places. We want to pray, ‘Lord, show us the condition of the walls [Nehemiah 1] today and Lord show what would Thou have us to do, that we might be sensitive to the needs of others, that we might look beyond others’ faults and see the need, that we might love the sinner but hate the sin.’“
Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, shared details of his personal prayer life.
“Every morning when I’m in the presence of God, I spend time just adoring Him, and reminding Him of His attributes, just Who He is, and I worship Him, I ascribe worth unto Him, and then I just give Him some praise,” Williams said. “Everyone who has been birthed into the body of Christ needs to worship Him for just Who He is, and then give Him some praise for what He’s done for you. And then not only did Nehemiah remind God of Who He is, but then he repented for what he had done. He said both I and my brethren have sinned [Nehemiah 1:6].”
Hardy, who directed worshippers into small groups, said, “The scriptures say [Jehoshaphat] held a church-wide prayer meeting. [He said] we’re going to pray about this thing. He said we’re going to fast about this thing, and we’re going to praise our way through.”
“And saints, although we’re on the battlefield, don’t get mixed up; the battle is not ours, but God’s,” Hardy said. “So we’re going to spend some time praying y’all. We’re not going to pretend that we’ve got it all together. … And I know it’s a temptation to not want to pray out loud, but we’re not going to give the Devil victory.”
McCarroll called the worshippers to the altar.
“Today I challenge you to submit like you’ve never submitted before, and give your life as a living sacrifice. A good friend of mine, pastor K. Philip in India, he says where there is no sacrifice on the altar, there will be no fire from heaven,” McCarroll said. “And if you want God to change [and] consume the parts of you that you know need to grow, it won’t happen until you give yourself permission to lay it all on the altar.
“You don’t mind coming to the altar do you? For those who don’t want to change – if you don’t want to change – stay in your seat.”
Worshippers approached the altar, some standing in aisles because of the crowd.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)