Hearts set on revival, Atlanta prayer gathering draws twice the attendance as Dallas meeting
ATLANTA (BP) -- Twice as many pastors gathered for two days of focused prayer in Atlanta compared to the first such meeting last fall in Dallas, prompting the gathering's organizer, Ronnie Floyd, to say, "God is up to something special in America."
"As I leave our prayer gathering, I am convinced more than ever that the Lord is stirring up men of God all across this nation," Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, wrote in a blog post.
Floyd was greatly encouraged by the turnout for "A Call to Pray for Revival and Awakening": nearly 400 pastors and other ministers praying together Jan. 13-14 at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel.
Last fall's gathering primarily was for senior pastors, and the latest meeting was opened to a broader group. The men were from 180 churches in 28 states as well as various Southern Baptist entities, state conventions and other ministries.
"The only answer in the church and in our nation is a major move of God, and He is placing a strong burden and growing desperation in our midst," Floyd said. "While I saw this in our Dallas gathering in the fall, God intensified it in Atlanta this week. This is occurring because of extraordinary prayer."
Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism and student ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said he went to the gathering not because he exemplifies a great man of prayer "but because I know I am weak, and I need the prayers of my brothers."
"It blessed me to be at a gathering where we spent more time praying than anything else," Reid wrote on his blog Jan. 15. "It has been years since I have done this, and I desperately needed it."
Before each lengthy time of prayer, the men received a short challenge from Floyd and others.
Floyd used as a guide Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards' treatise "A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of God's Kingdom."
From that, Floyd highlighted three ideas: explicit agreement, visible union and extraordinary prayer.
Jack Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, said he was grateful for pastor friends who prayed in faith.
"We met together to seek God and encourage one another in fellowship and believing prayer," Graham wrote in a statement to Baptist Press. "Only one agenda: to ask God to rekindle our love for Jesus, revive His church and enable us to fulfill His mission on earth to make disciples.
"The presence of God was real and ignited our hearts as one," Graham wrote. "I'm confident we are better men and more effective servants of Christ because we gathered in His Great Name and for His Glory (Ephesians 3:20-21)."
Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., said the prayer gathering was "powerful, convicting, encouraging and unifying." He identified four ways it united those in attendance: Baptists of every generation; pastors, staff and denominational leaders; Baptists for the Great Commission; and Baptists in their most powerful work -- prayer.
"We need more of this on many fronts in Baptist life," Traylor said.
William Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., attended both gatherings and said they have been a "refreshing time for personal and corporate renewal."
"These prayer gatherings seem to have arisen out of a desperate recognition that beyond all our organization and programming, we need God to move in an extraordinary way," Rice wrote in comments to Baptist Press. "I have sensed in the hearts of some leading pastors a real burden to call Southern Baptists to earnest united prayer for spiritual awakening."
Rice characterized the two gatherings as "some of the most powerful meetings I have ever had the privilege of being a part of."
"I think it is something we all knew we needed to do but for whatever reason -- busyness, pride, whatever -- we just haven't done it," Rice said. "Perhaps God is using these meetings as a catalyst to call us back to earnest, desperate prayer."
Floyd said the gathering showed him God is "raising up a generation of pastors who are biblically based, theologically balanced and spiritually empowered" and who are committed to seeing revival and awakening among their peers.
"We are the revival generation," Floyd wrote in comments to Baptist Press. "This is happening because there is a growing desperation in our land about where we are and where we are going as a nation."
Revival, Floyd said, is the "manifestation of the presence of God in our midst."
"God can do more in a moment than we can do in a lifetime. Therefore, we must pursue Him and experience His presence powerfully so that we can lead the church to do the same," Floyd said.
"As the church is coming alive and experiencing the power of God, we believe that America will begin to see spiritual awakening in various places. This is absolutely imperative so we can reach the world for Jesus Christ."
At the Atlanta prayer gathering, Floyd said pastors and ministers were "lying on their faces in humility, pouring out their prayers not just for others but for their own spiritual condition." He saw them praying for one another, interceding for churches and worshipping with "all their might."
Now that the pastors have returned to their various places of ministry across the country, Floyd hopes they'll be attentive to God possibly placing a burden on their hearts to lead similar gatherings in their own regions and states based on the principles they've learned.
"We need a spiritual movement to arise in every state in our great nation, led by pastors, to move God's people to extraordinary prayer," Floyd wrote on his blog. "God is doing something.... We must reach this world for Christ. The hour is critical. The time is short. This is why we need to practice extraordinary prayer."
Reid said he has committed to pray daily for at least 10 pastors he knows as well as for one of his colleagues and for 10 unsaved men or new believers.
"I will spend more time in the coming days praying with other men," Reid wrote. "I hope you will also."
The gathering has a website, praying-pastors.com, and a Twitter hashtag, #prayingpastors.
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).