Phil Miglioratti opened the winter leadership meeting of PrayerLink asking whether Southern Baptists are more interested in developing prayer guides (booklets and other resources about prayer) or prayer guides (individuals in congregations who help guide church members to be prayer warriors in the house of God).
Drawing his lesson from the purification of Jesus recorded in Luke 2, Miglioratti pointed to two individuals in scripture who serve as prayer guides for 21st century believers – Anna and Simeon.
These two relatively obscure characters in the overall narrative of scripture were “led by the Spirit to step up at just the right moment to announce God’s redemptive moment,” said Miglioratti, prayer consultant for the Illinois Baptist State Association and national coordinator of Loving Our Communities to Christ.
Noting that we know nothing about them beyond this single instance, Miglioratti observed that Anna and Simeon both frequented the house of God and were devoted to the Lord in prayer.
“It is interesting to note that Luke 2:40 follows Luke 2:22-39,” he added.
Luke 2:40 states that Jesus grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.
“We cannot underestimate the power of prayer on people’s lives,” Miglioratti noted, urging the PrayerLink leadership team to focus its ministry objectives on creating “Luke 2:40 followers of Jesus” – those who grow strong in the Lord, who are filled with the Spirit, and who reflect the grace of God in how they live their lives.
What is PrayerLink?
PrayerLink was established in the 1980s to come alongside the Southern Baptist Convention’s Bold Mission Thrust initiative. Initially composed of several SBC entity prayer leaders, it was called the Bold Mission Thrust Prayer Committee.
The committee championed establishment of prayer coordinators in each state Baptist convention to help equip churches and church leaders in developing focused prayer ministries in their congregations.
When the Bold Mission Thrust initiative ended in 2000, the committee, in concert with SBC entity leaders, deemed it wise to continue the ministry.
Changing its name to PrayerLink, members have held an annual meeting for the past 15 years, meeting to pray, network, and share information and exchange resources about “best practices” of prayer ministries in their respective states.
Repurposing for ministry
At its January 11–12, 2016, meeting in Chicago, the PrayerLink leadership team proposed the first major restatement of its ministry purpose and composition since 2002, capping a three-year review of its ministry role with Southern Baptists.
In 2012, PrayerLink members established three goals to launch its repurposing process. Those initial goals included asking the SBC Executive Committee to create a prayer resources web page connected with the SBC.net website (see InAllThingsPray.net) and an urgent call for spiritual awakening.
The following year, PrayerLink voted to expand its annual meeting format to include a local ministry component in the host state. More than a dozen members conducted workshops, taught and preached in churches along the Front Range in Colorado in 2014. In 2015, PrayerLink members continued the local ministry initiative, touring three church ministries in the greater Anchorage metropolitan area and, facilitated by Alaska Baptist Convention staff, hosting two prayer gatherings in the region.
If approved by the full PrayerLink group in October, the new purpose statement will clarify that PrayerLink’s primary aims are
“to foster a Great Commission prayer mindset among Southern Baptists and other Christ-followers” and
to “promote Great Commission prayer ministries woven throughout the entirety of the Southern Baptist family – local churches, associations, fellowships, affinity groups, state conventions, SBC entities, and the SBC when in session” through a fourfold strategy: to work collaboratively with associations, state conventions and SBC entities to assist churches by
facilitating concerts of prayer,
producing and promoting prayer resources,
helping identify and empower congregational prayer champions, and
encouraging development of a loose-knit Great Commission Prayer Network.
The 10-20-30 prayer experience
In planning the PrayerLink gathering for October 2016, host member Miglioratti has enlisted local associational leaders, pastors, and the Send City coordinator for Chicago. Following PrayerLink’s annual meeting on Wednesday evening and Thursday in October, PrayerLink will host a prayer gathering at Broadview Baptist Church on Friday, October 8, followed by a prayer tour of the Chicago area on October 9.
PrayerLink leadership team chairman Darrell Webb said, “We would like to invite SBC entity and state prayer coordinators and prayer leaders from across North America to participate in the meeting this October.” Webb, who serves as regional missionary with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, added, “We are praying that we will be able to cast a new vision and purpose in leading Southern Baptists to prioritize prayer during this prayer gathering.”
Prayer leaders from across the greater Chicago area and beyond are also invited to the day-long prayer experience and prayer tour, he said.
The prayer gathering will be divided into five one-hour seasons of prayer using a “10-20-30” prayer model and following the missions and ministry structure of Acts 1:8.
Each hour-long season of prayer will include 10 minutes of scripture reading, public leadership and worship, followed by 20 minutes of sharing prayer concerns in small groups related to the session focus, followed by 30 minutes of guided and conversational times of individual, group and corporate prayer. The one-hour 10-20-30 format is designed to serve as a model that can be replicated and used in a local church setting.
You shall receive power: the Acts 1:8 challenge
The five hour-long prayer sessions will begin with a time of personal renewal and then radiate out in concentric circles of ministry as follows:
You shall receive power: personal focus (you)
You shall receive power: interceding for family, friends, local church, neighborhood (our Jerusalem)
You shall receive power: beseeching the Lord of the Harvest for church revitalization and church planting initiatives (our Judea)
You shall receive power: interceding for the brokenness of our nation, from racial tensions to the moral darkness that grips our country (our Samaria)
You shall receive power: praying God’s Kingdom purposes with a global focus (the uttermost)
In written comments after the draft restatement of purpose had been finalized, Eleanor Witcher, prayer team leader with the International Mission Board, wrote, “I am blessed by the purpose expressed in this document. With change happening all around, it is encouraging to know that our God is ever the same and He continues to ‘walk and talk’ with us in prayer.”
Other members of this year’s PrayerLink leadership team are Neal Hughes, North American Mission Board; Gordon Fort, International Mission Board; Claude King, LifeWay Christian Resources; Glenna Heidt, Canadian National Baptist Convention; Chris Schofield, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; and Jerry Dixon, Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger S. Oldham is vice president for Convention communications and relations for the SBC Executive Committee. This article first appeared in SBC LIFE.)