A group of men prays together at the prayer gathering ahead of the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim. BP file photo
NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Unified prayer and spiritual preparation are the intent of a new resource available in advance of the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Elevatingprayer.org offers four unique supplications and encourages attendees to join for onsite prayer June 11 from 4:30-6 p.m. in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) Theater on the second floor.
Prayer is intended to prepare leaders and messengers for the meeting’s jampacked schedule of business, inspiration, fellowship, edification, evangelism and worship, said Kie Bowman, pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist & The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas, who is helping the SBC Executive Committee develop a national prayer strategy.
“When we work, we get what we can do; but when we pray, we get what God can do,” Bowman told Baptist Press, citing the oft-quoted adage.
Robby Gallaty, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., and Bill Elliff, founding and national engage pastor of The Summit Church in Little Rock, Ark., will lead the June 11 prayer meeting open to all messengers and guests.
“You may be wondering why we’re hosting a prayer gathering at the Convention when we’re attending for the purpose of a business meeting. The simple answer is that God inhabits the prayers and praises of His people,” Gallaty said, referencing Psalm 22:3. “When the people of God bow their knees before Him, it bends the ear of God to their requests. In Acts 4:31, the place was supernaturally shaken after a corporate prayer gathering of a handful of believers, and it changed the trajectory of the Church.
“What could God do when hundreds of ministers and messengers of the Gospel cry out to Him?” Gallaty posed. “I’m asking and anticipating God to manifest His presence among us on Sunday, June 11. I hope you’ll make plans to join us.”
Elliff said the gravitas of the meeting calls especially for prayer.
“In a moment when we sense the desperately needed winds of God’s Spirit blowing across our nation, will we pray? Will we find where God is moving and join Him?” Elliff asked. “We gather once a year to seek to advance the kingdom of God, but what could be more important than to pay the price of prayer, for prayer can do anything God can do. Prayer brings God into the equation.”
Elliff shared similar inspiration in advance of the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
“We have been praying a deep spirit of repentance would permeate this prayer meeting tonight and a deep spirit of repentance would permeate this week, every session, all the way through, and that when the world looks in and sees the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said at that event, “it would not see us arguing and fighting, but see repenting with humility and brokenness and grace and truth without any hypocrisy.”
Bowman pointed to extraordinary results of prayer in advance of recent SBC annual meetings, including the salvation of a convention center employee in advance of the 2021 Nashville prayer meeting that drew hundreds.
Other prayer events planned for New Orleans include “Power in the Prayer Meeting,” a panel discussion June 12 from 11:10-11:40 a.m. on the Cooperative Program stage in the annual meeting exhibit hall. Bowman will moderate the panel featuring Nathan Lino, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas, and Todd Kaunitz, lead pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview, Texas.
In a Cooperative Program stage panel discussion 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.; 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.”
The 2023 prayer guide is available at Elevatingprayer.org.
This story was written by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press senior writer.