EDITOR'S NOTE: This first person is part of a series of first persons Baptist Press will be publishing in anticipation for the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal. The 40/40 Prayer Vigil is a North American Mission Board/Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission initiative to encourage Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to pray for 40 days, from September 26 to November 4. To learn more, visit www.4040prayer.com.
MARIETTA, Ga. (BP) -- The Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal is a great opportunity for Southern Baptist Christians to come together as a unified body and lift up our nation to our Almighty God. I believe this vigil can have a profound influence on the course and the future of our nation. History has demonstrated the power of believers coming together and becoming the catalyst for great awakenings.
In Daniel 9 we find the godly prophet Daniel crying out to God for such an awakening in his own people. He sincerely came before God "by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes." This was not a prayer before bedtime, but a crying out to God for His mercy and grace on a rebellious people. Daniel recognized specifically how Israel had turned against God by forsaking His law and shaming His name. In this contrite position of prayer Daniel also begged God for forgiveness for this disobedience. He faced the truth that they were getting exactly what they deserved and receiving the consequences for which they had been warned. In Daniel 9:18, 19 we find Daniel's basis for petitioning God:
"O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before you on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people are called by your name."
The urgency in our day and for our nation is just as great! I could cite statistics, but I think that would be unnecessary. A simple look around at the decadence that surrounds us should suffice -- materialism, obsession with pleasure and entertainment, family breakdown, and on and on -- and sadly the church often reflects culture more than being a light to culture. It is not that we should pray, we must pray. When sin is the problem there is no human cure! Repentant faith in Christ is our only answer.
It is my hope that Southern Baptist Christians pray during the vigil. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the North American Mission Board have not only sponsored this vigil each election cycle since 2008, but they have prepared for us the Prayer Guide as an invaluable tool to aid in the effectiveness of our prayers. This guide can help both churches and individuals pray specifically for those issues in our nation, churches and our personal lives. I urge you to encourage each of your church members to earnestly pray to our great and awesome Lord during these 40 days of prayer.
Bryant Wright is pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.