The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is once again calling N.C. Baptists to unite in a 30-day prayer emphasis for revival and spiritual awakening this October leading up to this year’s annual meeting in November. The “Pray for 30 Days” emphasis includes a devotional prayer guide aligned with the annual meeting theme of “God’s Great Work.”
Chris Schofield, director of the state convention’s Office of Prayer, recently answered some questions related to the prayer emphasis and how N.C. Baptists can utilize the prayer resources.
Q: This is the eighth year that the state convention has sponsored the 30-day prayer emphasis in October. How did the “Pray for 30 Days” get started, and how has it grown over the years?
A: The committee that planned the program for the annual meeting in 2012 was discussing the theme and looking at using the word “Awaken,” based upon Romans 13:11-14. As they began to talk, they began to say, “We need to maybe do a prayer emphasis. Can we work with the office of prayer?” It was birthed in the hearts of the people who were planning the annual meeting.
It was such a God thing! I had been praying for years (along with others) that we could have an emphasis, and we were just waiting on that right time. Up until that point, we had produced various resources that helped people to pray for revival and spiritual awakening, but we had never had a state-wide emphasis that called North Carolina Baptists to unite in prayer for revival and spiritual awakening – it had to be that right time. It was so neat to see that happen. The office of prayer didn’t initiate it. It’s what the Lord did in the hearts of leaders who were planning the annual meeting. I knew this was God’s timing – His timing is always best.
We’ve seen participation grow with regard to people’s and churches’ involvement through the years. It’s been really great to watch as the Lord has called thousands of His people to unite and seek Him through prayer across the state and even beyond. It is gradually taking hold, and we certainly praise the Lord for His work and blessing. We even have churches that are calling us ahead of time and asking, “When’s the devotional going to be ready?” That is encouraging to see, especially as the spiritual famine in our land increases every day.
Q: Why commit to 30 days?
A: The thing I’ve discovered in prayer mobilization is that often times when you’re inviting people or churches to unite together in a focused prayer effort, it’s good to give them a beginning date and an ending date. A commitment to pray for 30 days, to pray for one year, or to pray for six months. We decided that this would be a really good format to lead up to the annual meeting, and our emphasis would be on revival and spiritual awakening because of our desperate need for God to pour out His mercy.
Q: This year’s prayer guide is based on James 4. In the days leading up to and throughout October, how should participants think of the annual meeting theme of “God’s Great Work” in relation to James 4?
A: “God’s Great Work,” which is the theme for the annual meeting and the devotional, is based on the Great Commandment out of Matthew 22 and the Great Commission out of Matthew 28. James 4 constitutes the basis for the content of the devotions.
In James 4:1-4, James identifies various hindrances to the vital spiritual life of Christians. Hindrances such as wars, fights, prayerlessness, wrong motives in prayer, spiritual adultery and worldliness, all of which, if not addressed, will hinder a believer’s ability to walk intimately with Christ and will destroy the vital spiritual life and witness of believers and churches. In James 4:5-6, James speaks to the work of God’s Spirit in drawing humble believers to Himself even in the midst of their rebellion.
James is very practical and in James 4:7-17, he calls believers to return to the Lord in genuine biblical repentance. In essence, James 4 is really a picture of what genuine revival is really all about in the lives of God’s people. It is about God’s people realizing that they have departed in sin against God, coming to genuine repentance and returning sincerely to the Lord, with Him restoring us and lifting us up to be about His great work in the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
Q: With an emphasis on revival and spiritual awakening, what should people expect and hope for as they pray?
A: With this emphasis we are uniting in heartfelt prayer toward God’s people being revived in their relationship – their vital spiritual life with Christ, which, I believe, is the greatest need that we have in the life of the church in America. We have to return to the Lord. We have sinned and we have departed from the Lord in worldliness and in disobedience to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Even with our personal and corporate prayer lives – most of our praying is about how God can make us happy and not about God’s Kingdom purposes. Thus, it is important for all of us to remember that revival must begin in my heart first.
The culture is suffering, lostness is increasing, and we need God to move desperately in spiritual awakening. God has poured out His mercy in spiritual awakening across America at least four times in the life of our nation. He has shown His mercy and granted revival in the church and spiritual awakening in the culture in a pervasive way in those four movements. Yet, we are way overdue for another movement. That’s what this devotional is all about – God’s people uniting and seeking the Lord for His mercy through revival in the church and spiritual awakening in the culture.
Q: How can individuals or groups best implement the prayer guide and other resources?
A: First churches have to make seeking the Lord for revival and spiritual awakening a priority in their ministry context. The way the devotional is put together – it can be utilized on a personal level and it can be utilized on a corporate level. Churches can use it in many different ways. I’ve had pastors tell me that they place it on their website or use it for Wednesday night services leading up to a special prayer or evangelism emphasis. There are multiple ways to utilize the materials because they are generic. It’s 30 days, and it has prayer prompts and a scripture text for each day. The devotional has videos to go along with it that introduce the sections.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This year’s prayer guide is available as a free download, and printed copies may be purchased for $2 each. Individuals may download the prayer guide, sign up for daily devotional emails and register to receive prayer prompts via text message at prayfor30days.org, or text ‘pray30days’ to 313131.)