By Ronnie W. Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention
God’s Word is clear: “…For My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)Jesus declared it this way: “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13)
Announcements and promotions within the church sometimes gain a higher priority in planning and follow through than prayer. This is why the church of America sleeps. Spiritual lukewarmness is plaguing the church, resulting in infrequency of church attendance, declining churches, lagging evangelism, sagging giving, and generational disconnectedness.
Is your church a house of prayer or something else?
When is the last time you turned an entire Sunday morning worship service or services into an entire service of prayer? Has this ever occurred? Has prayer received more than a small focus in any worship service you have attended recently?
If not, why not? If we are not filling God’s churches with passionate prayers that are focused with purpose, what are we filling our church worship services with? Could it be that we are not filling God’s churches with prayer because we are not seeing that our greatest need is the power of God to intervene into our life, church, and nation? Could it be because we do not connect the deep need for prayer with the greatest need – to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations?
Turn One Sunday Morning Into a Morning of Prayer
The third action is to focus an entire Sunday morning worship service (or services) between January and May 2015 on extraordinary prayer for personal and church revival, the next Great Awakening in America, and for the world to be reached for Christ. Several months ago, I wrote about leading your church in a Sunday morning prayer meeting. Let this encourage you. We also have a resource section in our e-book and on pray4awakening.com/southernbaptists. Under the heading Prayer Gatherings, you will find examples from several churches on how they have experienced Sunday morning services focused on prayer.
Four Characteristics of Prayer Services
There are four characteristics I will mention briefly that can help you plan and lead a prayer service effectively:
1. Biblically-based: Each prayer time needs to be based on a teaching time from God’s Word. We stand on His Word, not on our words or passions.
2. Prayer-focused: Focus each prayer time on principles like repentance, revival, surrender to the Lordship of Christ and the filling of the Spirit, spiritual awakening, and reaching the world for Christ beginning in your own community.
3. Spirit-led: While prepared and ready to lead, you will need to navigate the worship and prayer moments as God’s Spirit leads you.
4. Worship-expressed: Hymns and worship songs are given to us to express our worship of Jesus Christ as our Lord. These can be powerful expressions as transition moments, moving from one prayer time to the other.
Just imagine what may happen in your church if an entire Sunday morning service is turned into a prayer service. You could experience God move in ways unlike you have seen in a while or may have never seen before. People could come to Christ. Personal repentance could result in a releasing of the Spirit upon your church, unleashing the church to worship and ministry.
Just imagine if 100 churches, 500 churches, or several thousand Southern Baptist Churches would turn a Sunday morning into insuring that Jesus’ House would be a genuine house of prayer for all the nations. Just imagine what could happen if, from this point forward, you could spend 10 focused minutes each Sunday morning in extraordinary prayer on two major needs locally, in your church, in America, or across the world.
Here is what I do know: If we do not plan to pray, we will not pray!
It is past time for us to prioritize prayer personally and in the church. For far too long, we have seen what we can do; it is time for us to see what God can do. This can only happen when we pray.
You may say, “Ronnie, do you really believe that?” Absolutely, and I believe it upon the authority of His Word.
Acts 4:31 says, “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.”
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. FloydSenior Pastor, Cross Church President, Southern Baptist Convention
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is currently serving as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.7 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide.