FIRST-PERSON: Calling Southern Baptists to pray

MARIETTA, Ga. (BP)--As senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, my number one goal is to challenge Christians to renew their love for Jesus. Many have forgotten our first love, and we need spiritual renewal and revival in our convention and nation. We need to stop and seek God's direction.

I am thankful that leaders of the SBC have challenged churches in our convention to hold solemn assemblies in January 2011. I urge you to select a Sunday in January that best fits your church's schedule. The date is secondary. The call to prayer is the primary focus.

At Johnson Ferry, we plan to observe a solemn assembly on Sunday, Jan. 23, as we call our church to a time of prayer, repentance and fasting in all our worship services. We are asking God for a personal and corporate encounter with Him, and our desire is to seek Him with open hearts and to hear afresh from Him.

To prepare for this day we plan to:

-- Provide a prayer card and seven daily devotions to assist our church members in personal preparation

-- Sponsor prayer gatherings with our intercessors.

-- Ask all students and adults to study a special lesson on repentance in our Sunday Bible Study classes and small groups on January 16.

-- Sponsor a "Read Through The Bible" weekend through our Men's Ministry.

For the sake of our nation and our churches, I encourage you to join me in this urgent call to prayer. What we need most of all is for Southern Baptist Christians "to return to their first love."


Bryant Wright is senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., and president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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