Marty Jacumin was back home again, leading off the May 1-3 North Carolina Foothills Prayer Conference at First Baptist Church of Icard in Connelly Springs.
It was at Icard where Jacumin, currently the senior pastor at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, was licensed into the ministry in 1997. This was his turf, the place where his ministry began nearly two decades ago.
Jacumin took to the pulpit to begin the conference with a sermon based on James 5:13-18, emphasizing the ways Christians are called upon to pray.
“Sometimes, we have this mentality that, ‘You know what? God told me in His word that I’m just supposed to pull up my bootstraps and I’m supposed to get after it,’” Jacumin said. “I don’t know what translation you’re reading, but that’s not in my Bible. God says to call on Him. Someone said meekness is not weakness. We’ve got to humble ourselves and say, ‘God, I can’t do this without You.’”
There are prayers of intercession, Jacumin said during his sermon. There are many kinds of prayers including prayers for holiness, prayers for peace, prayers for healing, prayers for salvation, prayers of confession and prayers of praise, he added.
Photo by Rick Houston
The bottom line is the need to draw nearer to God, he said, emphasizing the conference theme, “Draw Near 2” based on James 4:8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”
“We come into this place with different needs,” Jacumin said.
“What are ways we can pray for ourselves and pray for one another? Maybe you feel alone, and that’s why you’re here tonight, because you just wanted someone to draw near with you.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone among you having troubles and turmoil in your life? If that’s the case, let him pray. For the abused, let them pray. For the downhearted, let them pray. Those who are struggling now, those who’ve got bad news, let them pray.”
Jacumin was followed by Richard Blackaby, president of Blackaby Ministries International. He challenged those in attendance about their prayer life, asking if people in need come to them for prayer and if Satan feared their prayers.
His text was 1 Kings 17-18, in which Elijah’s prayers resulted in a widow’s son being brought back to life. That prepared the way for the prophet to have the faith necessary to bring down fire during a showdown with the prophets of Baal.
“We need Elijahs in America today,” Blackaby said. “We don’t need namby-pamby, wimpy praying, ‘God, if it be Your will.’ We need people like Elijah who can stand up against the government, against evil society, against wickedness and pray with confidence [and] when they pray, the fire is going to fall. In this room alone, if we became fire-falling, rain-stopping pray-ers, America would feel the impact.”
That kind of powerful prayer was something Blackaby recommitted himself to following the births of his three grandsons.
“I don’t want to see temptation, pornography on the Internet and worldliness coming after these innocent little babies, and think my prayers are not even getting past the ceiling,” Blackaby said. “They have to know that when grandpa prays, Heaven hears.”
Blackaby returned to 1 Kings the following night, asking what happens after momentous events like the one Elijah experienced on Mount Carmel. He encouraged attendees to earnestly pray leading up to an event such as a church revival, but in the aftermath as well.
The time to know whether an event has been productive is not the day after, Blackaby said, but six months later.
“How much do we pray after the meetings, after the revival?” Blackaby asked. “I’ve known people who prayed three years for a revival meeting, but they didn’t pray one day after the revival. Isn’t that kind of unusual to you? What’s happened to all the seeds that have been planted? What about the fact that Satan is marshalling his forces to put that fire out?”
Steve Ellis, senior pastor of First Baptist in Leland, spoke on the story of God calling Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. He focused specifically on verse 10 in which Samuel told the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Ellis told those gathered to allow the Lord to speak, even when the news isn’t good. “Would you still want to hear from God if the news was bad?” he asked. “Would you still want to hear from God if He had something negative to say about somebody you actually cared a great deal about? See, I think the reason a lot of people don’t hear from God directly is because we’re content not to.”
That kind of complete abandon to God’s will, that willingness to hear what God has to say was Ellis’ main point and the focus of the conference.
“If God wanted to change your life forever, would you be willing to let Him do that?” he asked. Moments later, Ellis concluded with one of the most powerful moments of the conference. “If you’ve ever had that feeling that God is doing something important, if God’s saying something to you and you just don’t know what it is, can I tell you how to pray? Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening”
The Office of Prayer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina sponsored the event in Icard along with similar gatherings across the state. Chris Schofield, director of the Office of Prayer, is encouraged by the response to the series of prayer events. “You can sense in a deepening work of God’s Spirit in hearts with regard to revival and spiritual awakening,” he said.
Pastors and church leaders are responding to the calls for prayer according to Schofield. With the major shifts in culture, he believes it is more urgent than ever that Christians stand together and pray together. “Shallow Christianity will blow away. People are not going to stand up or stand firm if they are not going deep with the Lord.
“We’ve got to get serious about the Lord these days,” he added.
The next prayer conference is set for Sept. 11-12 at First Baptist Church in Richlands, N.C. Speakers include Steve Griffith, senior pastor of Osborne Baptist Church in Eden, and Richard Owen Roberts, the founder of International Awakening Ministries of Wheaton, Ill. Visit ncbaptist.org/prayer to learn more about prayer movements and events.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Houston is a freelance writer living in Yadkinville. He has covered NASCAR extensively and written books on NASCAR and the Space Shuttle program.)