Since 2014, a great prayer movement has been moving across Arkansas. God has blessed the work of the Arkansas Prayer Task Force greatly during this time. Many churches are now involved in praying for revival and spiritual awakening. Yes, pastors and church leaders have been praying for many years before 2014 about revival and spiritual awakening; but it appears that God has used the efforts of the Prayer Task Force to sensitize and highlight the importance of specific prayer for revival and spiritual awakening across Arkansas.
How has this happened? An emphasis was placed on prayer during the Church Revitalization emphasis in 2014 and the years following. The Prayer Task Force was created during this time to provide inspiration, resources, and plans for helping a church to pray for revival and spiritual awakening.
This task force planned the first statewide Prayer Gathering for ministers in 2014 which helped thrust the importance of prayer to the forefront in Arkansas Baptist life. Since that time, the annual Prayer Gathering has been the focus point of an annual emphasis on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. Over the course of six years this Prayer Gathering has involved from 250 to 300 pastors and other ministers in prayer for revival and spiritual awakening each year.
Dr. Ken Shaddox, pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock, shared this testimony about the Prayer Gathering, “The annual Prayer Gathering is a powerful time of seeking and hearing from God. It’s a must for every pastor’s calendar.”
Dr. Manley Beasley, Jr., pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church in Hot Springs, had this to say about the Prayer Gathering:
“Our annual Prayer Gathering has become the highlight of my State Convention experience…I can’t think of a time in my life when prayer has been needed like now. If prayer is all that we believe it is, then what can be more important than this gathering?”
The work of the task force involves planning events and emphases for churches and associations which lead people to pray for revival and spiritual awakening. The task force also provides resources for churches to use as they lead people to pray.
Currently, the Prayer Task Force is composed of the following members:
- Bill Elliff Manley Beasley, Jr.
- Don Moore
- Ken Shaddox
- Diane Blackwood
- Roderick Rogers
- Larry White
- Lowell Snow
- Warren Gasaway
- Jimmie Sheffield
- Greg Addison
- David Bond
In addition to the annual Prayer Gathering, several important activities and resources have been provided to guide and assist churches to pray for revival and spiritual awakening.
One of the first resources that the Task Force produced was a plan to help churches have a Sunday devoted to prayer called “Leading Extraordinary Prayer for Revival and Awakening.” A special leaflet was prepared giving specific instructions for the pastor in leading the congregation to experience extraordinary prayer.
Doug Hibbard, pastor of East Side Baptist Church in Hensley, said, “This was one of the best Sunday morning services I’ve been involved with.”
Dewey Hickey, pastor of Westwood Baptist Church in Greenwood, said, “The response of the people is best illustrated by their comments. Repeatedly, I heard testimonies from people who said, ‘I had no idea I could pray for an hour.’ ” Hickey also said, “I did not preach on either of the two Sundays we observed the Concert of Prayer in our services. I simply led the congregation in prayer…”
Another important result of the Prayer Task Force work was the emphasis on senior adults. Dr. Don Moore, retired Executive Director of the ABSC and a member of the Task Force, proposed that we have an enlistment of senior adults to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. Through Dr. Moore’s leadership, more than 1,000 senior adults have been enlisted to pray. Dr. Moore sends regular reports and prayer requests to this group.
A great addition to the Executive Board staff was the hiring of Dr. Don Moore in 2019 to serve as the Prayer Ambassador for the Executive Board programs. He assists churches and associations in conducting prayer conferences as well as continuing his emphasis of involving senior adults in prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. His heart for prayer and for recruiting and motivating prayer warriors was the impetus for creating this position.
Also, the newsletter, “INSPIRE,” supports the task force emphasis on prayer by providing articles on prayer and sharing prayer emphases with the readers. At this point, there are more than 1,500 people receiving this prayer newsletter.
The Prayer Task Force also began to support the National Day of Prayer (NDOP) as part of the annual church prayer emphasis. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, former senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and current president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, was the president of the NDOP that year. Since that time, the task force has provided resources of videos and printed materials to assist churches in participating in the NDOP.
In 2020, the task force planned a series of Regional Prayer Conferences to help take the emphasis on prayer to the local church. These conferences provide training for pastor and lay people on Sunday afternoon followed by a prayer gathering in the evening. These have been well received with good attendance and participation. Two more of these conferences will be planned for fall of this year.
Another event that supports the effort of the task force to assist church leaders is the annual Prayer Conference held in conjunction with the Evangelism and Church Health Conference (ECON). These conferences have provided inspiration as well as training in prayer with an attendance of more than 250 church staff and lay persons each year. Such speakers as Henry Blackaby, Michael Catt, Stephen Kendrick, and Steve Gaines have encouraged prayer leaders in Arkansas at these conferences held each January.
The state Prayer Task Force has been very diligent and serious about praying for revival and spiritual awakening; and, as a result, a great prayer movement is happening across Arkansas.