In spite of today’s great spiritual darkness, there are signs God is not through with our nation. As Oklahoma Baptists, we definitely see encouraging signs of God’s blessing on our churches and ministries. As Southern Baptists, this past fall we witnessed our strongest commitment to various emphases of Forty Days of Prayer and Repentance. It is further encouraging that SBC President Bryant Wright is urging the observance of our second annual solemn assembly. I strongly encourage and want to equip Oklahoma Baptists for this all-important emphasis. There is little doubt that deep repentance and united prayer are our only real hope for revival and sweeping evangelism. Our prayerful objective is to make Jan. 30 more than just another programmed event. As we approach this second annual solemn assembly, it is crucial to understand four vital keys.
Four Keys to Making Solemn Assemblies a Genuine Return to God
(1) Leaders must promote the solemn assembly with urgency and seriousness. No true return to God occurs with casual, half-hearted emphasis. (Joel 2:12-18) In light of today’s conditions, it is hard to imagine how any believer could ignore or treat casually the SBC call to united prayer.
(2) The Scripture-filled process of cleansing must be thorough, and repentance must be specific with renewed obedience. (Psalm 139:23-24; Matthew 15:8) In today’s micro-sound bite generation, it is easy to attempt cleansing that is so brief and general it has little depth or power. Merely “saying” we repent or reciting general commitments does not constitute a genuine return to God.
(3) In the Church age, solemn assemblies are conducted to restore first love passion for Jesus, renewed holiness and the spread of Christ’s kingdom. (Matthew 22:37; Revelation 2:1-4) If we seek repentance mostly because of a bad economy, social concerns or rising signs of judgment, the motives are inadequate. While such conditions are certainly factors in our seeking God, as New Testament believers, our main purpose is restoring first love obedience and surrender to Jesus.
(4) Genuine solemn assemblies bring believers to renewed obedience at specific points of kingdom priority. (Luke 6:46; John 14:15) Biblical revival is not a temporary event to confess some general sins and continue life as normal. The purpose is a lasting covenant to walk in deeper daily prayer, biblical holiness, right relationships and Great Commission passion.
In the weeks leading up to Jan. 30, churches have a great opportunity to seek God’s face in genuine repentance. Most churches will take one or two weeks prior to Jan. 30 and ask their members to pray through a guide for repentance. On Jan, 30 (or another chosen Sunday), the morning, evening or both are dedicated to a service of corporate prayer and repentance. The BGCO Office of Prayer recommends the following tools for help and guidance.
Tools for Practical Help
(1) Ask the congregation to pray through a quality biblical cleansing guide in the week or two prior to Jan. 30. One option is Consecrate the People, by Claude King. It is a brief, but biblical guide designed for use over a one week period. It can be ordered as a booklet or downloaded at www.lifeway.com.
Another option is the week-long Guide to Full Surrender by Gregory Frizzell. The uniqueness of this tool is its thoroughness and four-part covenant to help believers walk in lasting revival. Especially today, it is crucial that we embrace deeper cleansing and lasting commitments for change. This guide with covenants is new and can be downloaded at www.bgco.org (Prayer and Spiritual Awakening Tab)
(2) The new resource Restoring Our First Love—A Solemn Assembly of Full Surrender is a thorough cleansing journey that can be done in one, two or three week periods. It majors on restoring the believer’s first love passion and evangelistic zeal.The tool also utilizes four biblical covenants to aid believers in making specific lasting changes. The tool is by Gregory Frizzell and can be ordered from the Office of Prayer in early January. The 40-day cleansing journey Returning to Holiness is also available for interested congregations.
(3) A third new book is Overcoming the Corporate Sins of Modern Churches by Gregory Frizzell. It is very significant that biblical solemn assemblies dealt much with corporate sin. Unfortunately, modern efforts almost entirely ignore this crucial element! In Overcoming the Corporate Sins of Modern Churches, congregations discover powerful ways to incorporate this missing element into their efforts. It is currently available from the Office of Prayer. (All of Frizzell’s resources contain practical guides for conducting powerful services of corporate prayer and repentance.)
Another Programmed Event or True Revival?
Above all, we must recognize that merely observing events of prayer and repentance mean little if they are not thorough, heart-felt and rightly motivated. If all we do is to check off the list and say “we did it,” it would almost be better just to ignore it. In Scripture, God essentially said “he hated” and “despised” solemn assemblies, prayers and worship that were shallow and insincere. (Isaiah 1:12-14; Amos 5:20-24) Yet by God’s grace, we can ask Him to touch our hearts and make Jan. 30 more than another programmed event. Because of His mercy and power, there is hope! Beyond question, our Savior deserves nothing less than first love passion, lasting obedience and new evangelistic fervor. May God help Oklahoma Baptists answer His call.