Beginning Dec. 22, pastor Ted Traylor called the church family to prayer and fasting leading up to the church's solemn assembly on Jan. 30 as part of the Day of Prayer emphasis.
He asked church members to prepare their hearts in three ways.
"I asked them to spend extra time in prayer and examine fasting as they are led in their own soul," Traylor said. He offered several suggestions on ways members could fast, such as giving up Sunday lunch after church.
He encouraged families to "refurbish and refresh the prayer altar within their home," calling on the spiritual leader in each household to hold a prayer meeting for their extended family on Thursday nights.
Then on the Day of Prayer, church members will gather at 5 p.m. at the church, spreading throughout the building in their connection groups for concentrated prayer. After that prayer gathering, members will meet in the worship center for a time of corporate prayer and worship.
As the church moved toward this emphasis, nearly 1,200 members accepted Traylor's challenge to read the book, "Returning to Holiness: A Personal and Church-wide Journey to Revival" by Gregory Frizell. And as a result of their study, the pastor added, three persons made a profession of faith in Christ, acknowledging that they did not truly know the Lord.
In the middle of the 40-day emphasis, Traylor invited members to join him at the church for prayer at 11:15 p.m. on New Year's Eve. While he hoped for 50 people to attend the first-time event, more than 200 adults came that night. "It was remarkable, a great time of people on their knees," Traylor said.
Traylor said he could already sense a "real movement of consecrated holiness" within the congregation and "a renewal of the Christian Spirit-filled life."
Meanwhile across the Pensacola Bay, Ferris Baptist Church in Milton will incorporate the Day of Prayer as an element in the church's year-long emphasis on "Transformation Initiative," pastor Bryan Nall said.
Church members have made commitments to transform their lives over the next 12 months through their mind, body, family, finances, community and world, he said.
The Day of Prayer will be observed as the congregation focuses on praying for the needs of the world.
Other Florida Baptist churches have found unique ways to prepare for the SBC emphasis, said Rick Shepherd, director of the Florida Baptist Convention's prayer and spiritual awakening department.
"I have appreciated the creativity and different focus points churches have planned. They are seeing the day of prayer not as a program or another thing to do, but as an expression of the heart," he said.
Shepherd said the SBC Day of Prayer is a time when all Baptists can seek the face of God.
"The needs of Florida and Southern Baptist churches are evident, some more than others, but all are in need of a fresh movement of God," he said.
"The necessity for spiritual awakening in the United States is without question. God is calling us to call on Him, to seek His face, turning from anything that displeases Him."
Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention. To access the full collection of Baptist Press stories on the call for Southern Baptist churches to engage in a solemn assembly, go to http://www.bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=179.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net