Arkansas Baptists encouraged to pray first in 2024

At a recent music award show, a 39-year-old won the award for New Artist of the Year.  While I don’t feel like 39 is old, in the music world, it is old. Most new artists are much younger when they get their big break. However, as a youth, this artist was in and out of jail several times and had some rough and difficult early years.   

In his acceptance speech, he made a profound statement. The words were not original to him. In fact, I am not sure who first made the statement, but it is one of great truth. He said, “I wanna tell you that the windshield is bigger than the rear-view mirror for a reason, because what’s in front of you is so much more important than what’s behind you.”   

The apostle Paul is one of the greatest followers of Jesus that has ever lived. I am so thankful that God has provided us with many snapshots of his mindset and heart that are expressed in letters to churches that are part of God’s word in the New Testament. Paul indeed had a rough past.  Yet he lived embracing the truth that what was in front of him through the windshield of life was far better than what was behind him in life’s rear-view mirror. That is true for all of us!  

That is a truth that God stirred in my heart a few months ago as I considered a focus for Arkansas Baptists to center on at the start of 2024 in our Pray First initiative. I was drawn to the inspired and inspiring words of Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead. I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” 

During the first month of 2024, Arkansas Baptists will have the opportunity to prioritize prayer as part of a strong start for the new year.  Every Monday in January, a video along with resources and daily encouragement will be released as you put God’s truth and presence first.  

Each week, with the help of five Arkansas Baptists from around the state, we will focus on five key words from Philippians 3:  forget, reach, goal, prize, and call.  These leaders will provide a devotional, prayer prompts, a Scripture to commit to memory, and some practical applications.  My desire is that as we Pray First together, we will see that what is in front of us is more important than what is behind us. 

You may sign up at to be added to the email list. If you signed up to receive the Pray First materials last year, you will automatically receive the Pray First emails beginning on January 1, 2924.   

We will also share these resources via social media, allowing you to share them on your personal page as well. Be sure to follow the Arkansas Baptist State Convention on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.   

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