CARLINVILLE, Ill. (BP) -- Prayer is a powerful tool, yet there is a tendency to isolate it to our own individual churches. In an effort to expand the power of prayer, a resolution was adopted at the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting "that the messengers to this meeting encourage churches experiencing cycles of health to pray for and partner with both established and newly planted churches that are struggling so that together, experiencing His strength through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10), we can more effectively reach our neighbors and our nation with the Gospel."
This resolution was a response to a growing number of churches taking action and praying for local sister churches. Emmanuel Baptist Church in Carlinville, Ill., is one such church.
Noticing the need for unity among local churches, Emmanuel began praying for sister churches in its local Baptist association on a weekly basis. The church formats its strategy by praying for three churches and their respective pastors each week, rotating the list to pray for all 27 churches in the association by name multiple times each year.
Church members and leaders alike began to observe and experience a noticeable and positive impact through this prayer focus. Taking note of the cause/effect relationship of the power of praying for local churches, Emmanuel recently expanded its regular prayer list to include two church plants located outside of the association that Emmanuel assists.
The church prays a specific prayer for each church and pastor each week: for "the physical and spiritual protection of the pastor so that he would deliver the message that God has given them and to lead the people with passion to reach the lost in their community."
This scripted prayer addresses an eternal need for each church, according to Cliff Woodman, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church: "I wanted it to be a specific prayer that could apply to any church. The mission of every church is to reach the lost and make disciples."
If more Southern Baptist churches take this kind of initiative to pray for each other and unify under the banner of Christ, then communities will come together spiritually and the Kingdom of God will expand as a result, Woodman said, citing Jesus' words from His high priestly prayer: "I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23).
Daniel Woodman, an entering freshman journalism major at the University of Missouri, is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Carlinville, Ill.
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