With the weight of so many important decisions facing Southern Baptists in the coming days, hundreds gathered to pray at the Anaheim Convention Center the night of June 12.
Arkansas pastor Bill Elliff and Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., led audience members on what the men hoped would be a journey where God would meet each person in a real and tangible way.
Within hours, the cavernous room they occupied would be filled with 2022 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference attendees. By Tuesday morning, an estimated 9,000 people from across the U.S. were set to assemble for the 2022 SBC annual meeting.
“One of our prayers from the beginning was that God would meet with us tonight in a tangible, palatable way, and that He would make us aware of His presence,” Gallaty said.
He briefly talked about his own struggles, how God taught him about silence and solitude and how the lesson positively impacted his prayer life.
After spending time silently praying, attendees were encouraged to gather in small groups with those around them and pray “unto God” rather than about personal wishes and wants.
“Remind us to make you the center of everything,” was heard coming from one group.
“Consume us with that incredible love that convicts,” came from another.
As the worship band played softly, children clutched their parents’ hands as prayers were spoken over their heads. One couple rocked back and forth, almost singing their prayers to God.
“There is something irresistible to God about His people coming together in unity,” said Elliff, founding and national engagement pastor of North Little Rock’s The Summit Church. “He loves you and wants to communicate with you tonight.”
Drawing from Nehemiah 1, Elliff talked about how much can be accomplished when believers align themselves with the will and plan of God. He then led the audience in prayers for repentance, wisdom and revival.
“We have been praying a deep spirit of repentance would permeate this prayer meeting tonight, and a deep spirit of repentance would permeate this week, every session, all the way through, and that when the world looks in and sees the Southern Baptist Convention, it would not see us arguing and fighting, but see repenting with humility and brokenness and grace and truth without any hypocrisy,” Elliff said.
Messengers to the annual meeting will consider recommendations from the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force, assembled last year at the direction of messengers to the 2021 SBC annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The task force’s report, based on a third-party investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions, was released May 22.
Elliff warned that if the only repentance Southern Baptists confess this week are the items lined out in the task force’s report, “We’ve missed a great opportunity for revival.”
“If we respond rightly as a convention, God will hear, forgive, cleanse, transform and heal,” he said. “We can be better in the days ahead by His grace. There is a wonderful groundswell we’re seeing of people and leaders who want to see God move in this convention and lead us to times of revival and genuine, biblical change for His glory.
Gallaty took a more individual route, encouraging each person to examine himself and ask, “Am I the blood clot of revival?”
“You may be the blood clot preventing revival from coming to your church,” he said. “Would you confess jealousy right now? Maybe you have arrogance in your heart, a self-sufficient attitude, maybe you gossip, maybe your sin is criticism. Confess that to the Lord.”
Audience members were also directed to a resource to help create a praying church. Find more about this resource at onecry.com/sbc.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Robin Cornetet is managing editor of Kentucky Today, a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)