By David Roach
PHOENIX (BP) — With messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix pledging to pray for matters ranging from evangelism to racial reconciliation, SBC President Steve Gaines has called Southern Baptists to intercede “more fervently and frequently than ever before.”
Gathered around the theme “Pray! For such a time as this,” messengers to the June 13-14 annual meeting urged prayer or committed to ask God for specific requests in at least five separate resolutions. In addition, annual meeting attendees received specific prayer requests from the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.
Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN, urged Baptists to follow through on their prayer commitments and honor the prayer requests. Leading up to the meeting, he had called for 21 days of prayer and fasting.
“The Lord blessed our SBC annual meeting in Phoenix in so many ways,” Gaines told Baptist Press in written comments. “I’m convinced He did because we prayed. Before each session, we gathered in small groups, joined our hearts and hands and prayed.
“We prayed for our nation. We prayed for future missionaries who are going to the nations to share the Gospel. We prayed as important resolutions were crafted, discussed, and adopted. Contrary to what some secular media outlets reported, our business was conducted in an orderly, Christ-like manner. I attribute that to God answering the prayers of His people,” Gaines said.
More fervently and frequently
“As we face the future, I call upon all Southern Baptists to pray more fervently and frequently than ever before. Challenging days are ahead for Christians around the world. We must make prayer, evangelism, and discipleship the priorities of our lives. We must jettison our selfish agendas and focus on Christ’s Great Commission,” Gaines said.
Among prayer pledges made at the SBC annual meeting:
- Messengers adopted a resolution “on prayer” which stated, “We commit to pray … for the next twenty-one days, leading up to July 4th, for God to be merciful to Southern Baptists , empowering us anew with His Holy Spirit to be witnesses in our communities, states, nation, and world.”
- In a resolution “on the importance of moral leadership,” messengers committed “to pray for our nation’s leaders to be able to resist every temptation that would create a hindrance to the fulfillment of their calling in society.” The resolution additionally committed to pray “that God will help us and all our fellow citizens to embrace the biblical moral values that will honor our creation in God’s image and bring God’s blessing on our nation.”
- A resolution “on the anti-gospel of alt-right white supremacy” stated that messengers “earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.”
- A resolution of appreciation for outgoing registration secretary Jim Wells “pledge[d] to intercede” for him and his wife Judy during what were expected to be his final days of life on earth. He died June 17 following a seven-year battle with cancer.
- A resolution “on university ministry” “urged our fellow Southern Baptists to devote considerable prayer,” among other resources, to “evangelistic and discipleship endeavors” on college and university campuses.
Ways to pray for missionaries
During the NAMB presentation, board president Kevin Ezell asked Baptists to intercede for church planters using the website PrayForPlanters.com, which lets users sign up to receive via email a list of planters in a specific city or state or on university campuses.
The IMB’s presentation included distribution of cardstock discs with names of international missionaries printed on them as prayer prompts.
Maintaining a commitment to pray for matters raised at the annual meeting, Gaines said, will make a difference in the world.
“Things will be different in many positive ways if we will pray and ask God to go before us and help us to accomplish His will,” Gaines said. “I pray that all Southern Baptists will pray for such a time as this.”