By Wyman Richardson, Pastor at Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock
Last January we came under conviction that Central Baptist Church, North Little Rock, could be much more intentional about prayer. We implemented a number of initiatives, one of which is what we are calling our “House of Prayer” moment in our Sunday morning services. These are moments of deliberate congregational prayer for specific causes and issues.
Our default (if you will) for the “House of Prayer” moment is to pray for the churches of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. Toward that end, we began to pray last year by name for the churches of the North Pulaski Baptist Association (our association). Each Sunday we pray for three churches. Each week we instruct those seated to the left of the center aisle to pray for the first church on the screen, those to the right to pray for the second church, and those in the balcony, on the platform, and watching online to pray for the third church listed. We then give time for the congregation to pray specifically for these churches before we close in prayer from the platform. Periodically, as unique and pressing issues arise, we will step away from the list of churches and pray for this or that issue. Most recently we devoted our “House of Prayer” time to praying for peace in the world with reference specifically to Ukraine and Russia and the surrounding area.
We have now prayed for every church in the North Pulaski Baptist Association and recently finished praying for every church in the Pulaski Association. We are now beginning to pray for the churches of the Faulkner Association.
We periodically explain to the congregation our rationale for this. We explain that we do not want to be insular or schismatic, that we want to both recognize the reality of other churches and pray for God to bless them and move in their midst. In this way, we are pushing against it being “all about us” and are encouraging our folks to remember that the body of Christ is larger than any one congregation.
But mainly, we want to pray for these churches because there is power in doing so! Some weeks ago, a lady in our church contacted me and told me that her son, who attends one of the churches we had prayed for the week before, had contacted her to tell her how God had shown up in their worship service. The altar, he told her, had been packed with people crying and crying out to God in confession and repentance and rededication. He had no idea our church had prayed for his church until his mother told him.
Does that mean that Central Baptist Church “takes credit” for what happened in that church? Perish the thought! The beauty of heartfelt prayer is the recognition that any good that comes as a result of it can only and ever be credited to God alone! But were we privileged to perhaps have been used by God in some way to impact through prayer what happened there? I like to think so. And all who prayed for that church were similarly so privileged!
It is a simple thing, but a powerful thing. I know other churches do this as well. We certainly do not claim originality! On the contrary, I am ashamed it took us so long to lift up other congregations specifically by name! Would you consider joining us and other churches that do this? It is bearing fruit here and, thank God, among the churches that we are praying for.