Thousands at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention knelt in prayer and raised their hands to heaven July 16 as they prayed for revival in the church and a great awakening across the United States. Spiritual leaders from Southern Baptist churches across America—including Hispanic, Korean, Native American, and African American pastors—prayed for an end to racism and prejudice as they pledged to work together “as one family.”
“The only thing that can ultimately reshape America is a spiritual awakening and the next move of God,” Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC, stated “When you look at it historically, there is no great movement of God that is not first preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people. Floyd, said he had participated in prayer a few days ago with a group of spiritual leaders in Ohio’s capitol building. Underneath the seal of the state of Ohio that appears in front of the building are the words, “With God, all things are possible,” he noted. “It is providential we’re here, because with God . . . all things are possible,” he said. “We pray that this will become a generational moment. Lord, open up the heavens and come down.” Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, called Southern Baptists to personal repentance.
“God is calling us to brokenness and humility,” he said. The greatest sin is the sin of pride.” Citing Nehemiah, who prayed for his own city when the walls were in ruins and the city was left unprotected, Graham said that is the spiritual condition of the United States: “God’s people, without protection.” Nehemiah’s response was to pray for his nation, but to start with himself and his own family. He prayed and fasted to get right with God. Graham challenged Southern Baptists to pray in brokenness, humility, and repentance.
Recalling the Haystack Prayer Meeting in the nineteenth century that launched a great awakening, Pastor Paul Ron of Cambridge, Mass asked “Why can we not experience another spiritual awakening today?” Reading Psalm 126:4, Pastor J.D. Greear from Raleigh, Durham urged Southern Baptists to reach the world through the hard work of evangelism, prayer, and patience, yearning for the heavens to open up to send a spiritual awakening. Don’t always look back at what God has done, Greear said. He not only “moved yesterday”; He “will move today and tomorrow.” Borrowing from A. W. Tozer, James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, said too many American churches are so busy doing church that if the Holy Spirit left their fellowship they would not realize it.
Christians today, he admonished, are not too different than the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus condemns in Scripture. He described Jesus’s words against them as one of the most “damning rebukes” because they misinterpreted Scripture and failed to believe in the power of God. He said Christians need God’s power to work in them, witness through them, and walk before them. Pastor Vance Pitman from Las Vegas said he was not content just to read about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit but wants the nation to experience it like never before. And the reason for God’s lack of activity in the church is not due to the lostness of the nation, but “the lack of desperation of the people of God.”
Steve Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, called on the church to seek revival as a body. He spoke from Acts 4, when the early church prayed, sought after the Holy Spirit, and then proclaimed the Gospel. “In three centuries, these Christians conquered the world’s greatest empire, the Roman Empire,” he said. “How in the world could a group of ragtag fisherman, tax collectors, zealots, commoners turn their world upside down in such a short time? They had a holy fire” burning in their souls “and they could not be extinguished.”
SBC President Ronnie Floyd reminded participants that “The heart of God is for His people to walk in light. That’s why the church needs revival. It’s time for revival in the church,” he said.
—Adapted from SBC Life, Summer 2015