EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is part of a series in anticipation of the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal, an initiative of the North American Mission Board and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission 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.
NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- As a kid growing up in my home church, one of the most exciting times of the year was our annual revival. Oh what a time that was!
It was a time that everyone was anticipating. I can vividly remember the choir singing songs that had everyone on their feet. When the deacons prayed during devotion, everyone seemed to be in one accord. However, the highlight of the worship service was when the guest revivalist got up to preach. It appeared that everyone was eagerly waiting to hear what God was saying to us through His Word and through His messenger.
The sermons during revival were always challenging and most times convicting. This was always evident when the "doors of the church" or "invitation" was extended at the end of the sermon. People were getting out of the pews and coming down the aisle responding to the Spirit of God. Some came for salvation, others were coming to rededicate their lives. Yes, the power of revival and repentance was evident in that church!
Since those early experiences in my home church, I have always been a fan of revivals. I have seen how lives, marriages, families and churches can be transformed when revival takes place. I now see the same things happening in the church that I pastor. I truly believe that God is still using revival to touch, transform and change lives.
That is why I am so excited to be a part of the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal. I truly believe that this prayer vigil can make a difference in our nation. That's why I would like to challenge and encourage Southern Baptists from across our great country to embrace and participate in this prayer vigil.
Brothers and sisters, I am convinced that the downward moral decline in America will not change because of who is in the White House. I truly believe the moral decline will only change because of who is in God's House! For the Word of God says, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
If true change is going to happen in America, it will only happen when the body of Christ is obedient to the Word of God. In other words, we as believers must do the four things that God requires of us in 2 Chronicles 7:14: (1) humble ourselves, (2) pray, (3) seek God's face and (4) repent of our sins. If we as believers do our part, then rest assured, God will certainly do His part. God promised to forgive our sins and to heal our land.
Brothers and sisters, if there was ever a time for revival and repentance it is now. When you look at how this nation has taken God out of every part of our lives, we should not be surprised by the horrific events that we hear in our daily news. It is time for true revival. It is time for true repentance. It is time for the church to stand up and be the church by being light in a dark world and being salt in a low-sodium, saltless society! We can start by taking part in this 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal.
Fred Luter Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.