Prayer lifted up for 'preservation of marriage'
NASHVILLE (BP) -- As attorneys presented their arguments on gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court today (April 28), believers across the nation gathered to pray God would lead the justices to uphold the traditional definition of marriage.
The ERLC gathering, which included staff members from LifeWay Christian Resources and others from the Southern Baptist Convention building, was attended via phone by the ERLC's Washington, D.C., staff. Leaders of Southern Baptist Convention entities and Baptist state conventions also convened for prayer via conference call while various churches prayed corporately on Sunday and during the week. Baptist leaders called individuals to pray as well.
SBC President Ronnie Floyd told Baptist Press the church he pastors in Northwest Arkansas "asked God for a miracle" in the form of the high court's nine justices upholding the traditional definition of marriage.
"This past Sunday at Cross Church, we were on our knees calling out to God for His intervention at this time in our nation. We asked God for a miracle that the justices of the Supreme Court would honor biblical marriage in their decision and honor marriage as we have practiced it since the beginning of time," Floyd, pastor of Cross Church, said in written comments.
"Additionally, we asked God that regardless of the decision, He would empower us to live before others humbly, holding on to God's Word and living faithfully. Upon the conclusion, I encouraged our people to pray for Tuesday when the debate was to begin legally and to do so daily until their final decision is made," Floyd said.
Among the subjects of prayer at the ERLC's Nashville gathering was that God would lead the justices to understand His moral standards, that religious liberty would be preserved for those who object to gay marriage and that the court's decision would open doors for Gospel proclamation.
Micah Fries, vice president of LifeWay Research, prayed believers "would have the heart and mind of Christ" toward gay marriage advocates.
"We pray that we would respond with grace, affection and a firm commitment to You and Your Word," Fries said. "Lord, we pray that this would not be an opportunity for us to just win, but I pray that this would be an opportunity for us to display the character and person of Jesus."
ERLC President Russell Moore, in a video shot outside the Supreme Court and posted on the ERLC's Instagram page, called for prayer during the oral arguments and throughout the day.
"I'm standing here in front of the Supreme Court," Moore said. "The court is arguing today about whether or not to redefine marriage. And I'd like to ask you to join me praying for the court at 10 o'clock Eastern Time today and throughout the day."
PrayerLink, a network of state Baptist convention and SBC entity prayer leaders, included the Supreme Court arguments among the prayer requests during its monthly prayer conference call.
Darrell Webb, a regional missionary with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, prayed that "God would just prevail" and "do a mighty work ... to bring our nation to our knees to see Your heart, God, in regard to marriage."
Webb prayed, "Do what only You can do. Turn hearts as only You can turn hearts, Lord, of these [justices] making the decisions."
California Southern Baptist Convention staff members prayed for the Supreme Court arguments during a chapel service at their office in Fresno.
On Sunday, Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., "prayed that the Lord would give the justices wisdom and understanding as to whether our Constitution required states to recognize a same-sex marriage union as marriage, and help us as a nation, and those who govern us, understand what marriage is," pastoral assistant John Joseph told BP in an email.
Trustees of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., paused during a meeting to pray for the Supreme Court, led by Billy Russell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bolivar.
Following the oral arguments, Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeats sent out a news release calling believers to pray in particular for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who some predict will cast the deciding vote in the gay marriage case.
"The decision, expected by June 30, could determine the legal definition of marriage in all 50 states," Yeats wrote. "I am calling on you to pray for the Supreme Court justices as they deliberate in the days ahead. Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to be the swing vote, and he may write the opinion for the majority; please lift Justice Kennedy up to the Lord. Proverbs 21:1 is a good verse to keep in mind as you pray: 'The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.'"
Yeats added, "Pray that the Supreme Court rules in a way pleasing to God by upholding His creative intent for one man and one woman to be together for a lifetime in the bonds of marriage. Pray that the Lord raises up lawmakers and judges who fear Him and work to pass and uphold God-honoring legislation. Pray for repentance and deliverance for all people with same-sex attractions, and for Christians and churches to love our gay friends as Jesus does. Finally, pray that our mighty God sends a great spiritual awakening through our land, beginning with you and me."