Following the lead of Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, members of the SBC's Great Commission Council -- which is composed of the heads of the convention's entities -- issued a letter Nov. 12 asking Southern Baptists to observe a Sunday in January as a day of prayer "that in the sight of God and His witnesses we might renew our commitment to Christ and the Great Commission."
"We live in desperate times. Our lives, our families, our churches, our communities, and our nation reflect the ruinous effects of our sinful ways. To some degree we all have pursued the things of the world and stand guilty of worshipping the created, not the Creator," the letter said. "... We must repent and come before the Father with a contrite heart. We need a heal-the-land kind of blessing."
In a video posted on www.pray4sbc.com, Wright said the call to solemn assembly "is about returning to our first love of Jesus Christ."
"In our convention, in our churches and our lives, we have allowed materialism, we've allowed hedonism, workaholism and busyness, technology obsession, all kinds of other interests of the world to just invade and, really, become bigger priorities than the priority of our relationship with Jesus Christ," Wright said. "We need to fall in love with Jesus again in a new and fresh way. We need to return to our first love."
Wright said gathering in solemn assembly -- an element of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report adopted during the June 2010 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando -- could be the turning point for renewed passion among Southern Baptists for Christ's Great Commission command to make disciples among all the world's people.
"It is my hope that, by following the charge the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has put before our convention ..., that people by the thousands -- hopefully by the millions -- around the Southern Baptist Convention will return to the first love of Jesus Christ."
The solemn assembly call to prayer and repentance was established in the Old Testament as a gathering in which the people of God were called to account and called to prayer, said Frank Page, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
"It is time for Southern Baptists to join in this biblical pattern of serious spiritual accountability and praying for our nation, our families, and our life like never before," Page told Baptist Press. "Around this nation is a small group of people who are committed to serious, earnest prayer. I have seen these pockets of serious prayer warriors as I have traveled around this nation. Let us join them in a call to our Lord for a genuine Holy Spirit revival. It is our only hope!"
Page said his cross-country travels have impressed on him the urgent need for concerted prayer.
"In 2006, when I was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I began an immediate call for prayer and spiritual awakening among our churches and people. I continue to believe that it is our only hope," Page said. "Having spent the last four years traversing this nation, and even meeting with the last two presidents of the United States, I can truly tell you that we are more in need of prayer now than ever before.
"I am delighted the Great Commission Resurgence challenge section reminded us we need to be coming before the Lord to seek spiritual awakening," Page said. "Second Chronicles 7:14 tells us what we need to do. It's time we do it!
Watch the full video of Bryant Wright's call to solemn assembly at www.pray4sbc.com. Resources for conducting a solemn assembly are available on the North American Mission Board website at www.namb.net/SBCDayofPrayer. Mark Kelly is an assistant editor for Baptist Press.
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