Asking the question, “To whom do we pray?,” Mark Edlund opened the annual PrayerLink meeting in Denver by challenging participants to cultivate intimacy with God.
Speaking from Galatians 4, Edlund, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention, presented four truths about the Aramaic term “Abba”—Abba is a term of intimacy; Abba’s voice is immediately recognizable to His children; Abba is a term of great honor and worship; and Abba underscores that we have a personal relationship with God as His child.
There are no “stiff protocols” for those who have this kind of relationship with God, Edlund said. “His voice is immediately recognizable; and our voice is known to Him,” he said. “The tone and timbre of our voice tells Him a lot, just like our children’s voices tell us a lot.”
History and Purpose
PrayerLink is “a network of state and national prayer leaders partnering with God to call and equip Southern Baptists to a renewed life of prayer impacting a lost world” that meets each year in a strategic city to fellowship, network, exchange ministry ideas, and pray over the ministries and needs of the host city.
PrayerLink was established in 1990 as the Bold Mission Prayer Thrust committee. Initially, it was comprised of SBC entity prayer mobilizers to provide prayer support for the challenging goals of the SBC’s Bold Mission Thrust, a twenty-year ministry initiative introduced to the Convention in 1979 and formally launched the following year.
When Bold Mission Thrust drew to a close at the turn of the twenty-first century, the group adopted its current name of PrayerLink. Working in partnership with the North American Mission Board, prayer coordinators in the state Baptist conventions were invited to join PrayerLink in 2003.
Participants at this year’s annual meeting included prayer coordinators from fourteen states and Canada and four SBC entities. For the first time, representatives from five ethnic groups also participated. While the annual conference includes periods of singing, Bible study, on-site prayer-walking, and personal devotions, the main focus of the meeting is focused prayer for revival and spiritual awakening in the various states and ministries represented, across North America, and around the world.
Crushed, Bruised, and Broken
Michael Evans, worship pastor at Riverside Baptist Church in Denver, led the conference in worship. Brett Willis, pastor of Matthew’s House Church in Durango, Colorado, challenged participants to “be the body of Christ.”
Describing how unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine are created, Willis called on the prayer leaders to “be broken for Him.”
Bread is “created from individual grains, crushed, blended together, stirred until the grains of one commingle with the other,” he said. Then the dough is “spread onto a cooking sheet, pierced with holes, and baked through the fire.” When the bread comes out of the oven, it shows the imperfections of the firing process, but it is suitable to nourish the hungry, he said.
Similarly, individual grapes, like members of the church, are designed to grow in clusters. “Though in a cluster, they are snapped from the twig, placed in the vat, stomped, bruised, stirred, refined, bottled, and then given time fully to commingle to bring out all of the flavors,” he said. Only then are they ready to be served.
Jesus “gave His body for us, gave His blood for us,” he said. To be fully ready for service, “we, as His body, must become broken for Him.”
Prayer and Ministry
Other elements of the October 8–10 meeting included a one-hour conference call with SBC President Ronnie Floyd to hear his passion for prayer and spiritual awakening and to discuss ways PrayerLink can partner with him in his “Call to Columbus” prayer initiative; a field trip into Denver to pray with and encourage pastors and church planters in seven new work and inner city ministries; and extended seasons of prayer. Members also reaffirmed three ministry objectives established in 2013 (see sidebar below).
During the business session, Jimmy Stewart, director of evangelism, prayer, and collegiate ministries for the Alaska Baptist Convention, invited PrayerLink members to Anchorage, Alaska, for its 2015 annual meeting, urging as many as possible to remain to participate in ministry opportunities.
Though winter nights in Alaska are long and cold, he said, “the darkness in Alaska is greater than the absence of light.”
At the conclusion of the conference, ten PrayerLink members remained in the state through the weekend, conducting prayer seminars, leading focused times of prayer, and preaching in Sunday worship services in fifteen churches along the Front Range of eastern Colorado.
Recognizing that our only hope is a God-given spiritual awakening, we acknowledge God is calling His people to repent and seek Him through wholehearted love, righteous living, and fervent, united Kingdom-focused prayer.
Furthermore, recognizing that prayer is essential for personal, corporate, community, national, and global spiritual transformation, we recommend the SBC entity members of PrayerLink develop a digital resource center for churches to access the many prayer tools available from PrayerLink members.
PrayerLink, in cooperation with associations, state conventions, the SBC entities, and other Great Commission partners, pledges itself as a co-laborer to assist churches in mobilizing God-initiated, Kingdom-focused prayer.
Roger S. Oldham is vice president for Convention communications and relations for the SBC Executive Committee and is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.