CALHOUN — The chorus goes up throughout the day. It could be from anywhere – home, work, while driving, at the kids’ practice, standing in line, checking email, in a tree stand. The voices of different ages, genders, octaves, and accents come together to form a song of petition and intercession.
Prayer has always been a topic of discussion and study among the devout, but it moved into another level of mainstream scrutiny when a New York newspaper lambasted politicians calling for prayer in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist shooting. In the view of those headlines, prayer is a waste of time and pointless. It’s equal to non-action.
Pastor Brent Davis and Heritage Baptist Church in Gordon County may differ. In preparing for two revivals a year, prayer becomes as much a part of the natural order of things as the Calhoun High Yellow Jackets in the state football playoffs. Normal practice in years’ past was for the church to be opened two weeks prior the meeting for members to pray, with some fasting the week before the revival. As goes human nature, though, maintaining the commitment proved to be a challenge.
“We would typically have up to 20 people show up to pray but it got to where only five or six would appear,” said Davis. “[This fall] we reemphasized prayer starting 40 days from the meeting.”
Members received curriculum on prayer and revival, but 187 also signed up for text alerts of prayer prompts and daily Scripture sent by Davis. “The first week it was about repentance and we built from there,” he said. Thirty signed up to receive alerts by email, with around 50 hard copies of the prompts and Scripture made available at the church. All told, more than 200 church members were actively praying 40 days prior to the revival.
Davis realized how connected the congregation was in prayer the day he was late in sending out a message. Soon, his phone began to chirp with texts asking about the Scripture and prompt. The alerts had become Pavlovian in their reminder for church members to pray.
During the Oct. 4-7 gatherings evangelist Bailey Smith and North Jacksonville, FL pastor Herb Reavis preached to a group expecting something big. They got it. “We had 45 saved during that week and 95 more … in the [next] 48 days,” he said. More than 70 were baptized over the next seven weeks, he added.
Davis realized how connected the congregation was in prayer the day he was late in sending out a message.
“I’m not a fool to think everyone prayed every single day,” admitted Davis, “but a lot did. The Sunday morning we began revival we realized we had to keep going, so we continued with sending a daily devotional through text, email, and print.
“You can’t believe how many I hear do their devotion wherever they’re at. Twenty-five or more have sent it on to their bosses and co-workers who see the messages and want to receive them as well.”
Heritage began in July 2008 with no building and 54 members. Over seven years 600 have been baptized, stated Davis, with membership at approximately 800. The church averages 300 in Sunday School and 500 in Sunday morning worship, 250 for Sunday and Wednesday evening services.