Archive for June, 2014
Each of these questions is absolutely worthy of an answer. Prayer, fasting, revival, spiritual awakening, evangelism, church planting, and the call to complete the Great Commission are not a new message for me. God first placed these messages deep within my life, then through my ministry, and later began to be expressed through the publishing of several books.
Therefore, my burden to pray for and see the Third Great Awakening in my lifetime is real. Since being elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I have targeted my Monday blogs to my Southern Baptist family.
The Call to Columbus for June 16-17, 2015, is genuine and one that I pray each of you will respond to personally, not only in prayer, but with attendance. As stated again last week, I believe one of the most strategic things we can do is to cry out to God in extraordinary prayer, asking Him for the next Great Awakening.
What is extraordinary prayer?
Extraordinary prayer is experienced when you pray beyond your normal practice to pray. I realize this is an oversimplification of a deep subject, but in reality, that is what it is. For example, if a person is praying five minutes a day or an hour a day, anything beyond what is their “ordinary” becomes “extraordinary.”
Furthermore, I believe extraordinary prayer becomes even more defined when that prayer is uttered before the Father in Heaven for a specific item. For the last several months, I have been calling upon pastors, spiritual leaders, and churches to pray specifically for the next Great Awakening.
Practicing extraordinary prayer in our life can become extraordinary in several ways:
- Extraordinary in Time: This is in relationship to the length of our praying.
- Extraordinary in Days: This is in relationship to the number of days we focus our prayer on a need.
- Extraordinary in Commitment: This is in relationship to the commitment of fasting, or the sacrifice of something you love to focus your prayer. Or perhaps even leaving your normal life, retreating to be with God alone, letting Him speak to you about it.
Personally, in recent months, there have two extended times of fasting, when most of my prayer has been focused on personal revival, spiritual revival in my church, and spiritual awakening in our nation; that I would see the Great Commission raised to its rightful priority, asking God to see it completed in our generation. Through these seasons as well as special days, God has placed this burden on my heart deeply, but at the same time, raising hope within me that this is the season when God wants to do something God-sized, extraordinary in our lives, churches, and nation.
Therefore, I believe it is incumbent upon me to call upon all of us to move into a year-long season of extraordinary prayer for the next Great Awakening.
Is a Great Awakening possible?
Without a doubt, another Great Awakening is possible because as recorded in Matthew 19:26, “With God, all things are possible.” While the skeptics doubt and the cynics mock, we need to pray. We need to believe God.
The Big Questions is: Are we as desperate to see God move in America as the times themselves are desperate in America? I believe firmly, God will move in our lives and churches to the level of our desperation. As Christ-followers, we need to be hungering for God to bring awakening to America.
In our Southern Baptist Convention, we need to be thirsty and hungry for the righteousness of God. We need to long for a move of God that will change our business as usual thinking and vision, igniting us into exploding churches and gospel acceleration that is unprecedented in history.
While some may doubt it is possible and others may mock it and say it cannot happen, our God can do anything, anytime, with anyone. He can do more in a moment than we can ever do in a lifetime. There has never been a great move of God that is not first preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people.
In fact, Jonathan Edwards had some direct words to pastors. In Alvin Reid’s, The Narrative of Awakening, he records what Edwards did and wrote in “Some Thoughts” in “Complete Works.” He writes,
So it is God’s will that the prayers of His saints shall be great and the principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s Kingdom in the world. When God has something to accomplish for His church, it is with His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayer of His people.
Yes, God is calling His people to rise up and call out to Him in extraordinary prayer for the next Great Awakening.
How can we practice extraordinary prayer in our churches?
As I bring this to closure, I want to give to you four ways we can practice extraordinary prayer in our churches. If you lead a Christian ministry of some kind, you could do something similar.
1. Set aside a specific time in your worship services to talk about a specific thing and pray together beyond the normal for God to do it. Last week in our worship services, moving in the flow of a song, I requested for our people to move into groups of five to seven for a focused time of prayer. I asked one person per group to pray, or they could all pray silently together, praying in agreement for our Student Camp. We had just at 500 high school students leaving that afternoon for our camp, and I listed several things related to the camp. Two of those things related to many students coming to Christ and several surrendering to the ministry.
Yesterday, I informed our people that God heard our prayers, as fifty-three students became followers of Jesus Christ and nineteen other students surrendered their lives to ministry or missions around the world. Together, we prayed extraordinarily and our God moved miraculously and extraordinarily. By the way, yesterday, we targeted our extraordinary prayer time asking God for the next Great Awakening. We prayed on our knees for this need personally, then I led a prayer for each of us to engage personally in the evangelization of our own Northwest Arkansas region.
2. Set aside a time of extraordinary prayer in your small group. Move beyond just praying for the sick, but for a mighty move of God. Pray for lost people by name in an extraordinary manner.
3. Set aside a night of praying together extraordinarily. In May, our worship team spent a Tuesday night in Dallas, leading the entire Prestonwood Staff Team and spouses (some 600 plus people) in four hours of prayer. This was a powerful, convicting, God-sized night of praying. Your church could set aside a night, just for praying for the next Great Awakening.
4. Set aside a Sunday morning worship service committed to extraordinary prayer. We did this in October of last year. My friends, Ted Traylor of Pensacola, Florida; Grant Etheridge of Hampton, Virginia; and Mac Brunson, of Jacksonville, Florida have all set aside a Sunday morning committed to praying as a church extraordinarily. Each have testified of the dynamic moving of God that occurred then and since in their churches. Yes, the entire service can be set aside for extraordinary prayer that is Bible-based, Jesus-centered, Spirit-led, and worshipped-expressed, targeting revival personally, revival in the church, awakening in America, and seeing the Great Commission finished in our generation.
There are many other ways I could share, but perhaps this may encourage you that you can find a way to personally and in your church, practice extraordinary prayer. The time is now.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention was looked upon as having a significant influence on American life. When I was a very young pastor attending our annual meetings, I remember how our leaders would talk about the influence our convention had upon American life, even in determining our nation’s future.
Let’s Assume this is True
Let’s assume there was a time when our Southern Baptist Convention was a healthy influence upon our nation. If so, what happened? I love America and I am so grateful that in God’s providence He has permitted me to live here. Additionally, I am convicted to pray for our nation daily and for our nation’s leaders.
Yet, I remain very concerned for the present state of America and for our nation’s future. At the same time, my confidence in the Lord, His Word, His Gospel, His Church, and His Kingdom gives me overwhelming hope, which I can extend to America and the entire world.
Can the 50,000 churches and missions that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention influence the future of America? The answer is a resounding YES! I believe we can influence our nation and its future.
4 Ways we can Influence the Future of America
I believe there are four ways we can be a positive influence now and in the future of America:
1. We will always be faithful to lift up the authority, truthfulness, and infallibility of the Word of God.
While some denominations may be drifting away from the truth that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God on all matters, Southern Baptists will continue to stand on the Scriptures. As stated in our Baptist Faith and Message 2000, we believe:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds,and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Read again what we agreed upon as our commitment to the Scriptures. Yes, we will be there as a convention of churches, reminding ourselves personally, our churches, and our nation what God says about everything. He is our authority. When He speaks, He speaks the final Word.
2. We will always be faithful to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way to know God and to go to Heaven when we die.
While religions and cultures state there are many paths to God, we believe there is only one path to God. This authoritative Word proclaims clearly in John 14:6,
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Knowing this, when we believe in the gospel as defined by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, it changes everything:
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Unquestionably, we will proclaim the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that He is the only way to God and eternal life in Heaven. The greatest thing we can do to influence our nation is to present the Gospel to every person and make disciples of all the nations. Gospel churches must be faithful to present the Gospel and live out the Gospel in every way possible.
3. We will always be faithful to stand for the religious liberty of every person and every church.
This is our heritage and our conviction as Southern Baptists. While the government is challenging this conviction upon which our nation was founded, we will unashamedly live out what we confess through our Baptist Faith and Message 2000:
…The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others…The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind…
As we know, this is being tested now as much as in any time since our nation’s founding. Yet, I know where Southern Baptists will be: always standing for religious liberty — not just for ourselves, but for all.
4. We will always be faithful to pray for the next spiritual awakening in America.
In my first article to Southern Baptists as your President, The Call to Columbus, I wrote:
We’ve had a great conservative resurgence in the SBC. We are in the midst of a Great Commission resurgence in the SBC. In order for the Great Commission resurgence to be elevated to the proper priority, we need a great spiritual movement and a mighty spiritual awakening, which this nation has not seen in a long time. Yes, we need to pray now in an extraordinary manner for the next Great Awakening.
I hope you will take the time to read the entire article.
While we go through various highs and lows in our convention and in America, I am convinced and convicted that we are in a unique season when our desperation is rising in an unprecedented way. How should we respond?
In God’s time, in accordance with His will and purpose, I believe we should cry out to Him in extraordinary prayer, asking Him for the next Great Awakening. Join me in asking for the next Great Awakening.
Therefore, Southern Baptists…
Let’s be found faithful in these things. As we are, we can influence our nation in a positive manner for the glory of God, and for gospel expansion globally.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd