About a year and a half ago, Al Brodbent was becoming frustrated with the amount of gossip, garbage and solicitation on Facebook.
"I was ready to quit using it," he said. "And then the next day saw where two people had requested prayer about a matter" after seeing his "Pastor Al" Facebook page.
"I decided to pray every day for their request and let them know I was praying," said Brodbent, pastor of Fair Oaks Baptist Church near Wynne, Ark. "It had a positive influence on me as 'maybe I am onto something' ... as well as influencing that person on the value of prayer."
Perhaps most significant was a word Brodbent received from a pastor for whom he had started praying.
"fter two weeks of every day praying and sending a message, he sent me a message stating, 'In my 30-plus years of ministry, I have had many people commit to pray for me but never have had someone that did.'"
It confirmed for Brodbent that God was giving him a new ministry assignment as a sort of "cyber prayer warrior."
Around that same time, former Kentucky pastor Kevin Ezell, as president of the North American Mission Board, was addressing the need to refocus NAMB toward church planting and reduce headquarters staff in Georgia.
"This touched my heart. Being a counselor, I knew there would be many employees with frustration and anxiety during the process of determination who would and who wouldn't be cut," said Brodbent, who is a certified professional pastoral counselor with the American Association of Christian Counselors.
"I immediately started contacting NAMB personnel to add to my daily prayer list, committing to pray for them every day," he said. "Approximately 50 responded, and I would get up at 5 a.m. and pray for them and their families and every couple of days send them a word of encouragement."
Since dedicating his Facebook page to people in ministry, Brodbent's prayer list has ballooned to more than 600 and now, in addition to NAMB staff, includes a number of pastors and staff, state executive directors, other denominational employees, college presidents and seminary professors staff.
On Sundays, Brodbent said he gets up at 2:30 a.m. to pray and send a message to each person on his prayer list, many of whom will be preaching that morning. "Some get messages twice a week," he said, "as they serve in a position and then preach on Sunday morning."
Other days, he said his prayer ministry begins around 4 a.m.
"Since the beginning, I have had many comments about the fact they have never had anyone before continuously pray for them and receive some kind of verification," Brodbent said. "God has really used this ministry in my life to bring me to a realization that prayer is at the foundation of everything we do or attempt to do. Most plans fail because of a lack of foundation of prayer."
Brodbent may be found on Facebook by typing in "Pastor Al." To listen to an audio interview with Brodbent about his Facebook prayer ministry, visit www.arkansasbaptist.org and click on Audio/Video.
Reported by the Staff of the Arkansas Baptist News (www.arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net