Georgia Baptist pastors and leaders joined Gov. Brian Kemp in the Governor’s Office Thursday, Jan. 30 in his being named the first-ever recipient of the Public Service Award. The distinction was presented by the Georgia Baptist Public Affairs Committee. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
ATLANTA — Breakfast and a challenge to put prayer first preceded a trip to the Governor’s Office for many Georgia Baptist pastors Thursday, Jan. 30.
State legislators joined the pastors in the Empire Room on the 20th floor of the West tower in the James “Sloppy” Floyd Building for a buffet of eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, and biscuits and gravy, among other items, before hearing a challenge by First Baptist Woodstock Pastor Jeremy Morton to make prayer a priority in one’s daily life.
Morton led with the most famous example of a dedication to prayer.
“Early in the morning, Jesus got up, went to an isolated place when it was still dark, and there he prayed,” Morton read out of Mark 1:35.
There are things we do every day without fail, he pointed out. There are relationships we try to strengthen. How much effort do we put into clearing up the communication channels with God?
“What’s the current state of your relationship to God? We’re as close to God as we want to be,” he asserted. “Or, we’re as close to God as we discipline ourselves to be.”
Prayer should be the breath of our life. But at the same time, Morton admitted, it’s one of the most difficult things to do. That’s why a daily emphasis on prayer is so important.
“’Daily’ is when I remember it’s not about me. ‘Daily’ is when I realize that while I have my plans God reserves the right to work His plans. … If I don’t cry out to God today in prayer, then when will I?”
Morton then told of his own practices of starting the day in prayer – as in the first thing he does, even before grabbing his phone to see who won what game the night before. He went on to share methods for keeping prayer at the forefront of our daily activities and working out a prayer schedule.
“You know how you get better at prayer?” he asked in closing. “By praying, by doing it. I’m not promising you a less busy life, but I can promise you a less busy heart.”
In the Governor’s Office
Afterwards, a group of pastors made their way to Governor Brian Kemp’s office to present him with the first annual Public Service Award through the Georgia Baptist Public Affairs Committee.
Brad Hughes, chairman for the Public Affairs Committee, opened with comments about Kemp’s interest in discussing a Bible passage with him at one of their first meetings. Public Affairs representative Mike Griffin then expressed his appreciation to Kemp.
“I think of you and the First Lady as common Georgians who care and love people. One thing that stands out is that you’re a man of your word.”
Griffin then spoke of the LIFE Act, or heartbeat bill, that Kemp promised to pass during his 2018 campaign for the state’s highest office. Kemp’s due diligence was instrumental to keeping that promise despite enormous pressure from outside the state to not do so.
“There’s no way this would have ever gotten across the finish line or even originate had it not been for you.”
At that point, Georgia Baptist Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr. made the presentation to Kemp. During it he contemplated holding another presentation in 15 years or so for the numerous children whose lives would be spared thanks to the legislation.
“They would say to you, ‘Thank you for making that stand.’ And Georgia Baptists want to say thank you so much,” Hammond told the governor.
In his comments to those gathered, Kemp noted the importance of prayer in his own family.
“Marty (his wife) and I – our whole family – we pray often to stay humble and hardworking. We ask the good Lord to give us wisdom and strength, because this is a job where you need both,” he said. “… We know you’re praying for us every day, and we appreciate that.”
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.