>> by Frank Page, President, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee

NASHVILLE (BP)—For some time, God has been burdening my heart about prayer and spiritual awakening. I talked about this a great deal when I was president of the Southern Baptist Convention (2006-08). I saw then what was happening in our nation, in our churches and in our convention. That deep sense of need for revival in our land has only gotten stronger over these past six years.

As we have gone into 2013, God has laid on my heart the need to emphasize prayer and spiritual awakening like never before. Therefore, I will be talking about this throughout the coming year.

I am asking all Southern Baptists to join me in a year of emphasis on prayer like none we’ve ever seen before.

I ask individuals to be seriously involved in “throughout the day” earnest prayer. I am not talking about morning or evening prayers, but prayers which last throughout the day. Through Baptist Press and other means, we will be helping people know how they might do so. Our friends at LifeWay Christian Resources are providing a number of prayer materials to assist individuals in learning how to pray more earnestly, more effectively and more powerfully.

I am calling on churches to host prayer events, to host solemn assemblies, to host 40 days of prayer and fasting events. I am asking pastors to join me in this deep burden of prayer.

I am asking for our entities to emphasize prayer in every way they can. I know Tom Elliff of the International Mission Board has already established a new school of prayer at the IMB. Our other entity leaders have a heart for prayer as well. I ask each of them to join me in this call unto our Lord.

Scripture is clear about the need to pray. Almost everyone knows the words to 2 Chron. 7:14: “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from Heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

Most of us also know the words of our Lord in Rev. 2:4 where He spoke to the church of Ephesus and said, “You have forsaken your first love.” We need to remember those words for I believe we are in the same situation. We desperately need to return to our first love. What is that? Did not the Lord tell us that we are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?

The words of the Lord in Rev. 2 continue by telling us what to do. Simply put, it is remember, repent and do the first works. We need to remember the heights from which we have fallen.

Do you remember what it was like when you were first saved? Many of us felt like we could touch the face of God with our hand. Remember the excitement and the passion in those days! We need to repent of our sin, of our prayerlessness, of our shallow Christianity. We need to do what He has called us to do. We need to be in love with Him once more, to spend time in His Word every day, to talk to Him throughout the day, all day long.

Throughout the year, we will be sharing weekly devotionals on my new blog site, issuing weekly calls for prayer and sharing specific prayer concerns.

Please join me in a year-long emphasis for calling to our Lord for His mercy, for His guidance and for His forgiveness.