Messengers pray at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Kathleen Sparks/IMB)
Written by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press senior writer
NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Prayer changes the world, is the most powerful tool for change, and is critical in the spiritual life of pastors, prayer event leaders said in advance of the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Kie Bowman, pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist & The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas, has planned a series of prayer events at the annual meeting in his mission to assist the SBC Executive Committee develop a national prayer strategy.
“Prayer meetings change the world,” Bowman told Baptist Press. “For the last few years we have had incredible experiences of worship and prayer at the SBC prayer meetings, and we are planning for the same opportunity in New Orleans. Two national leaders in prayer and revival, Robby Gallaty and Bill Elliff, are leading us, along with a worship team from Long Hollow.”
Gallaty, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., and Elliff, directional pastor of The Summit Church in Little Rock, Ark., will lead a prayer meeting for convention attendees and guests from 5-6 p.m. June 11 in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Theater on Level 2 of the complex.
For Gallaty, “the prayer life of a pastor is the tide that raises the spiritual condition of a church, a community, and a convention. As I’ve studied revival history,” Gallaty told Baptist Press, “I’ve learned that every great movement of God begins by not moving. Before the Pastors’ Conference, we have an opportunity to cry out to God for personal and corporate revival by declaring, ‘God, I’m not going to move until you move.’”
Prayer could be the most vital thing Southern Baptists do at the annual meeting, Elliff said.
“We are at a critical point in the life of our convention and nation, and God is moving among us,” Elliff told Baptist Press. “With all of our business at the SBC, our gathering together for united prayer could be the most vital thing we do and could set the agenda for all that follows.
“The man — or church — that prays is the most powerful person, or church — or denomination — in the world, for prayer brings God into the equation,” Elliff said. “Surely our greatest need as pastors and leaders is to unite together in extraordinary prayer.”
Bowman will moderate two panel discussions on prayer set for the Cooperative Program stage in the annual meeting exhibit hall.
June 12 from 11:10-11:40 a.m., hear Gallaty and pastors Nathan Lino and Todd Kaunitz discuss “Power in the Prayer Meeting.” Lino, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas, and Kaunitz, lead pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, point to “church prayer meetings which experienced an unusual degree of God’s favor,” Bowman said.
June 14 from 11-11:40 a.m., Elliff and Tim Beougher, the Billy Graham professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will discuss “The Role of Prayer in the Asbury Awakening.”
“For the past few years, there has been a rising tide of united prayer,” Elliff said. “This spring, we have seen unusual stirrings across our nation. God longs to bring the next great awakening to our nation. Will we cooperate with humble, repentant, extraordinary prayer?”
Throughout the annual meeting, attendees are invited to pray in the prayer room in the main foyer outside Halls D and E of the convention center. The room will be accessible June 11 from 1 – 9 p.m., and June 12 and 13 from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., and June 14 from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
In the prayer room, individuals will find space for personal prayer. Small groups desiring to reserve the prayer room may contact prayer room leader Ray Swift at email@example.com.
“I want to encourage the family of Southern Baptists to experience the power of prayer at the 2023 SBC,” Swift said, “and participate in a time of prayer at their own convenience.”