Speaking from Jesus’s parable of the invitation to the great banquet (Luke 14), Gordon Fort noted that the guests who declined the invitation didn’t respect those who invited them, didn’t think they would miss out on anything, and didn’t realize the invitation was a once in a lifetime opportunity, a “kairos” invitation.
“I wish I had the eloquence to communicate to people what they are going to miss if they do not come to the wedding and marriage with Jesus,” Fort, IMB senior vice president for prayer mobilization and training, told PrayerLink participants during its annual meeting.
Pointing to the urgency of Jesus’s command, go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled (Luke 14:23, ESV), Fort said “Whatever it takes, [we must] get them to Jesus!”
In All Things Pray
PrayerLink members discussed ways to make prayer resources available on a platform that would be readily accessible to all Southern Baptists at its most recent annual meeting.
PrayerLink, the successor to the Bold Mission Thrust prayer committee formed in 1989, meets each October to pray, share ministry ideas, and strategize about ways to engage Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches in prayer.
This year’s PrayerLink members said farewell to several state convention prayer partners whose positions have been combined or eliminated as states have moved to forward a larger portion of Cooperative Program resources to the missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The group also asked the SBC Executive Committee to provide a repository of state convention and SBC entity prayer resources on a web page during its October 7–9 meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for pastors to lead their churches in praying for their families, their communities, and lost people around the world,” Frank S. Page, president of the Executive Committee, said in response to the request.
“Since prayer is an essential component undergirding all our ministries, no single SBC entity has ever been given a Convention ministry assignment of prayer,” he said. “It is a natural extension of the Executive Committee’s responsibilities to honor this request.
“Our prayer is that making these resources easily accessible will equip Southern Baptists to engage men and women and boys and girls with the Gospel and that every member of our churches will enter into a deeper prayer life with the Lord.”
Through online resources and partnership with state Baptist conventions and SBC entities, churches can design events and prayer opportunities that fit specific needs. The web page, linked directly through SBC.net, will revive a previous EC initiative called “In All Things Pray” and can be accessed directly at SBC.net/inallthingspray.
SBC Call to Prayer
PrayerLink leaders joined in calling churches to begin the year with an emphasis on prayer and reaching the lost during the month-long SBC Call to Prayer. The effort will help congregations focus on prayer in several key sets of relationships, seeking ways to engage those without Christ.
The 2016 SBC Call to Prayer highlights five areas of prayer, to correspond with January’s five Sundays.
- My Family. Select a family member who is unchurched or without Christ and pray that they would come to faith in Christ.
- My Community. Select a friend, neighbor, or colleague and pray that they would come to faith in Christ.
- My Church. Select a specific area of ministry in your church, such as a small group or age-graded ministry, and ask the Lord to use it to engage the lost with the Gospel.
- My Nation. Select an elected national leader or a Send North America city and pray for the salvation of the leader or the church planting efforts in that area.
- My World. Select an unreached people group and pray that the Gospel would be advanced among these people.
Other PrayerLink Business
State convention and SBC entity prayer coordinators considered other biblical texts during its three-day meeting. These included the nation’s desperate need for revival, referencing the promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14, and the faith-filled petition of the Syro-Phoenician woman, an individual who was not from the family of faith, in Mark 7:24–30.
In other matters, PrayerLink leaders held several extended sessions to pray for:
- Racial reconciliation and spiritual awakening in the Convention and across the nation;
- Momentum for changed lives through focused prayer as a result of the film War Room;
- IMB’s reset, its impact on those accepting the voluntary retirement initiative, and IMB’s continuing global impact;
- Praying Across Alabama, an Alabama Baptist initiative to pray at every courthouse in the state;
- Changes in state convention staff, resulting in downsizing and relocations of many long-time state convention employees;
- Reducing lostness in Georgia, the Georgia Baptist theme for this year’s state convention cooperative work;
- Legacy church planting and church planters willing to step into declining churches with a goal to revitalize or restart them; and
- Personal needs of group members.
The annual retreat concluded with a prayer tour of three church ministries in the greater Anchorage metropolitan area, which extends to Palmer and Wasilla.
The PrayerLink leadership team for 2015–2016 is Darrell Webb, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, chairman; Jerry Dixon, Baptist Convention Of Pennsylvania-South Jersey; Gordon Fort, International Mission Board; Glenna Heidt, Canadian National Baptist Convention; Neal Hughes, North American Mission Board; Claude King, LifeWay Christian Resources; and Chris Schofield, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Phil Miglioratti, Illinois State Baptist Association, will serve as the local host for the 2016 PrayerLink meeting in Chicago and Roger S. Oldham, SBC Executive Committee, serves as communications liaison to PrayerLink.
Congregational Prayer Ideas for the Month of January
Ask members of your congregation to write down the names of unchurched and lost family members on a note card and bring them to the front of the worship center and place them before the Lord. As they bow in prayer, have a church member pray aloud for their salvation.
Alternatively, create a prayer list of first names and pray for them at a mid-week prayer service for the lost.
Introduce the CrossRoads Prayer Evangelism ministry (see sample at SBC.net/inallthingspray). Encourage church members to list names of up to five friends and begin tracking their prayer, care, and sharing with those friends.
Use the facing page on the form to solicit names mentioned in Sunday school or small group. Covenant to pray as a group for their salvation.
In the church bulletin or worship guide, print the names and dates of the church’s planned evangelistic emphases for the next six months—things like VBS, revival services, or special music programs.
Lead the church to pray for these planned events by name during the pastoral prayer time on Sunday morning. Pray also for the continued health and unity of the church.
Read 1 Timothy 2:1–6 aloud during the morning worship service. Ask the congregation to intercede for the nation during this presidential election year. Mention the names of elected officials during the pastoral prayer.
Pray for the Lord to multiply your church’s reach by calling out of your congregation some who will serve as pastors and church planters.
During the pastoral prayer, pray for the International Mission Board during this time of organizational reset. Ask the Lord to give IMB trustees and leaders divine wisdom and guidance as they challenge Southern Baptists to be on mission with God.
Ask the Lord to give grace and mercy to missionaries who are transitioning from the field to new doors of ministry in the United States.
Roger S. Oldham is vice president for Convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee and is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.