"For some time, God has been burdening my heart about prayer and spiritual awakening," Page wrote in a Dec. 11 First-Person article in Baptist Press. "I talked about this a great deal when I was president of the Southern Baptist Convention (2006-08). I saw then what was happening in our nation, in our churches and in our convention. That deep sense of need for revival in our land has only gotten stronger over these past six years."
This is not a new message for Page. On the SBC President's page, posted after his election in 2006, Page wrote, "Across the nation I have spoken about the three 'R's'. I have thanked God for the push for doctrinal rightness. I thank God for the conservative resurgence which has brought us to this point. However, we must, with equal passion, attack the issues of relevancy and revival. If we do not have God's reviving hand upon us, we will move into a precipitous decline from which we will never recover."
Page will be enlisting others to help elevate the call to prayer throughout the year, sharing historical insights about prayer and spiritual awakening; first person accounts about spiritual breakthroughs; organized prayer ministry initiatives such as GudeStone's "Widow's Might"; focused prayer reminders such as prayer for the U.S. Supreme Court justices as they consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8; as well as pastoral and theological reflections.
Page noted he is not alone in his call for prayer and spiritual awakening. Earlier this year, current SBC president Fred Luter addressed the SBC Committee on Order of Business expressing his desire to see spiritual awakening and revival sweep across the SBC and the nation. Citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 and the high priestly prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17, Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said it is his "heart's desire" for this convention to "work together as one."
"This will not happen unless there's passionate, purposeful revival," Luter told the committee. "My theme will be centered around revival and prayer. Prayer is the great equalizer, the great energizer."
Luter also has underscored the SBC Call to Prayer scheduled for the month of January. In a Baptist Press story today), Luter said the call to prayer is "a pivotal opportunity as churches cast a vision for ministry in 2013. This coming January we will have the chance to gather as a denomination and center our thoughts and prayers on the lost in our communities and around the world."
Tom Elliff, president of the SBC International Mission Board, has noted the urgency of prayer and spiritual awakening in addressing the IMB's board of trustees. "The truth of the matter is that if we don't experience spiritual awakening we will forfeit our capacity to effectively partner with others in carrying out the Great Commission," he said at the board's fall 2011 trustee meeting.
" awakening is a missions issue, because if we don't have an awakening in the hearts of Southern Baptists, then the pool out of which we fish for missionaries ... gets smaller and smaller," Elliff explained. "We'll just become another denomination that had its day and has now slipped off into irrelevancy, and when people say 'Southern Baptist Convention,' they will probably say it with a yawn."
Such an awakening, Elliff noted, will require a "totally different" kind of prayer, one that rests on God's character rather than our own.
"I'm afraid that so much of our praying is a shot at getting something done by God with the thought that if He doesn't come through we've got another plan. Folks, if God doesn't come through, we don't have a plan."
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, echoed a similar message. "We're at a pivotal point as Southern Baptists as we do the work to penetrate lostness in North America and around the world," he said. "We are a people of action and sacrifice, but we also need to be a people of wholehearted prayer. I hope to see amazing things happen as God works through a faithfully-praying people."
Pointing to the SBC Call to Prayer slated for January, Ezell said the prayer emphasis is designed to be a tool churches can use as they focus prayer on family and friends, their community, the nation and the world, at each point seeking ways to reach those without Christ.
PrayerLink, a network of state convention and SBC entity prayer ministry coordinators who met in October to pray together and to encourage prayer ministries across the convention, focused on ways to elevate the importance of prayer for spiritual awakening in local churches and among SBC entities. The network adopted three statements committing to Seek God, Elevate Prayer and Pledge Cooperation.
"Recognizing that our only hope is a God-given spiritual awakening, we acknowledge God is calling His people to seek Him through wholehearted love, righteous living and fervent, united prayer," the PrayerLink network said.
The same week that PrayerLink met, Page met with Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, to discuss his burden for prayer. After praying together, Rainer pledged to assemble a list of prayer resources to assist the convention and its cooperating churches in setting prayer and spiritual awakening as a priority.
Rainer, co-author with Ed Stetzer of "Transformational Churches," has identified "prayerful dependence" as one of the most significant characteristics of churches that are making the greatest Kingdom impact.
"A prayerful dependence is evident in Transformational Churches," Rainer wrote. "These churches are humbly dependent on God for the vitality of the church. Prayer is not a program, and in many cases a weekly prayer meeting is not offered. Yet prayer undergirds everything a Transformational church does."
"Jesus wanted His churches to be called 'houses of prayer,'" Page said. "Let us not disappoint our Lord."
Roger S. Oldham is vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee. Potential resources for the Call to Prayer listed below are produced by LifeWay Christian Resources and may be ordered online at www.lifeway.com, through LifeWay Christian Stores or by calling toll-free 1-800-458-2772. For product descriptions go online to www.lifeway.com.
* A House of Prayer: Prayer Ministries in Your Church by John Franklin
* Disciple's Prayer Life: Walking in Fellowship with God by T. W. Hunt and Catherine Walker
* God's Gateway to Supernatural Power: A Resource, Testimony, and Practical Guide on Prayer and Fasting by Ronnie W. Floyd
* Growing Disciples: Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray and Bo Stephens
* Growing Disciples: Live in the Word by Philip Nation
* Growing Disciples: Pray in Faith by T. W. Hunt and Claude King
* Growing Disciples: The Call to Follow Christ by Claude King
* Praying for Keeps: Conversations with God (Fellowship Church Series with Ed Young Jr.)
* Praying God's Word Day-By-Day by Beth Moore
* Praying God's Word: Scripture-Prayer Resource by Beth Moore
* The Life-Changing Power of Prayer by T. W. Hunt
* The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian (workbook, leader guide, DVD leader kit)
* The Prayer of Jesus: Living the Lord's Prayer by Ken Hemphill
* Vital Skills: How to Have a Quiet Time (Age Group: Student)
* Vital Skills: How to Pray Using Scripture (Age Group: Student)
* Vital Truth: Prayer (Age Group: Student)
Resources Related to Revival, Spiritual Awakening, and Sacred Assembly
* Come to the Lord's Table by Claude King
* Consecrate the People: Renewing Our Covenant Commitments to Jesus Christ by Claude King
* Downpour: He Will Come to Us Like the Rain by James MacDonald (multiple resources)
* Follow Me by David Platt (coming Spring 2013)
* Fresh Encounter: Experiencing God's Power for Spiritual Awakening by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King (multiple resources)
* Fresh Encounter: Seeking God Together for Revival in the Land (28-day devotional guide) by Henry Blackaby and Claude King
* Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer
* MasterLife (The Disciple's Cross, The Disciple's Personality, The Disciple's Victory, The Disciple's Mission) by Avery T. Willis Jr. (multiple resources)
* Putting on the Armor: Equipped and Deployed for Spiritual Warfare by Chuck Lawless
* Radical Small Group Study by David Platt
* Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory by John Franklin and Chuck Lawless
* Subversive Kingdom (book & curriculum) by Stetzer
* Victory in Spiritual Warfare by Tony Evans
* Vital Truth: Spiritual Warfare (Age Group: Student)
* When God Speaks by Henry Blackaby
* Faith Evangelism 1 & 2 (multiple resources)
* Get Uncomfortable: Serve the Poor, Stop Injustice, Change the World… in Jesus' Name
by Todd Phillips
* Growing Disciples: Minister to Others by Richard Leach and David Wheeler
* Growing Disciples: Witness to the World by W. Oscar Thompson with Carolyn Thompson Ritzmann
* Leading a Child to Christ Training Pack with DVD-ROM (and related resources)
* Learning to Share My Faith by Chuck Kelley
* Live It, Tell It: Learning to Share Your Story (Age Group: Student)
* More to Life: Engaging Through Story by Dennis Pethers (multiple resources)
* Outreach Teams that Win: G.R.O.W. Kit, Revised by Jerry Tidwell
* Sent: Living the Missional Nature of the Church by Ed Stetzer
* Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay and Ralph Hodge (multiple resources)
* Share Jesus Without Fear: Students Reaching Students by William Fay (Age Group: Student)
* Victory in Spiritual Warfare by Tony Evans
* Vital Skills: How to be a Campus Missionary (Age Group: Student)
* Vital Skills: How to Do Servant Evangelism (Age Group: Student)
* Vital Truth: Service and Ministry (Age Group: Student)
* Vital Truth: Witnessing (Age Group: Student)
* When Worldviews Collide: Christians Confronting Culture by Ergun Caner
* Claude King has written a 21-day prayer guide for revival and spiritual awakening. Permission is granted in the copyright notice for free, non-commercial use of the files. You may download a variety of formats for printing or to share electronically at Claude's blog: www.lifeway.com/growingdisciplesblog.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net