EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world during 2013. Baptist Press is carrying columns during the year encouraging Southern Baptists to pray in specific areas and for specific needs in petitioning the Father for spiritual awakening.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) -- This Sunday is Soul Winning Commitment Day on the Southern Baptist Convention Calendar. At the same time, thousands of SBC churches have joined "My Hope America with Billy Graham" as a primary evangelistic strategy this fall.
These churches' enthusiasm is contagious. In all, more than 20,500 pastors from many evangelical church groups have committed to mobilize their church members for relationship evangelism over the next 60 days.
Nov. 7, Graham's 95th birthday, he will present the Gospel via television and will make it available via DVD, live streaming and online downloading.
My Hope America is based on the biblical example of Matthew the tax collector. After he met Jesus, Matthew threw a party so his co-workers and friends could meet Jesus (Matthew 9:9-10).
Through My Hope America, Christians across the United States are asked to be "Matthews." Between now and Nov. 7, we are asked to deepen our relationships with friends, neighbors and coworkers who don't know Jesus, and to commit to pray daily for each person on that list during the same timeframe.
Finally in November, participants will invite friends and family to their homes to watch the specially prepared My Hope America programs, hear Christian testimony and receive an invitation to follow Jesus. It's relationship evangelism on a massive scale.
The first program created for My Hope America is Defining Moments, which clearly presents the Gospel. Already, many individuals have trusted in Jesus after watching this powerful video. The next video developed is The Cross, and both videos are available at www.MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org.
There is still time to get involved in My Hope America. Sign up today to be a part of this nationwide movement at www.MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org. Take part in the online training or take a look at the schedule of preparation meetings to find one near you, where you can learn and receive key materials.
Prayer is the foundation on which Graham has always based outreaches. Through prayer, we show our dependence on God's power to transform lives. The following are a few ideas to keep prayer for My Hope America fresh and ongoing. Other ideas may arise as you participate.Tips for Churches
-- Take a few minutes each Sunday during small group Bible study classes to pray for the people on your Matthew lists (See 1 John 5:14-15).
-- During each Sunday morning worship service, invite the congregation to pray for those on their Matthew lists. Share a Scripture to guide the prayer (Ephesians 4:11-12). Include a testimony about those who have already decided to follow Christ.
-- Show Defining Moments to your church. Some pastors are even showing it in place of their Sunday morning sermon. New Matthew hosts may emerge after seeing it, and some may respond to the evangelistic invitation.
-- Encourage small groups to meet weekly to pray that My Hope America will be used by God to revive His people and expand His Kingdom. Benefits include accountability, encouragement and prayer in agreement for those on Matthew lists (See Colossians 4:2-4).
-- Hold a church-wide prayer rally to encourage members to keep praying and to not lose heart or grow weary. Share praise stories of those who have already come to know Christ or new relationships that are being built (See Psalm 105:1, Galatians 6:9).
-- Invite area churches to come together for a community prayer rally near the end of October, stirring enthusiasm and encouragement as the week of Nov. 7 nears.Tips for Individuals
-- Invite Christians to pray with you for your neighbors, co-workers and classmates. Gather in your home, workplace or school, or prayerwalk your neighborhood (See Matthew 18:19-20, 2 Peter 3:9).
-- Pray that God will open your eyes to see your neighbors, family and friends as He sees them (See Matthew 20:34, Romans 2:4, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 2 Timothy 2:25-26).
-- Ask God to give you sensitivity to the opportunities He provides for you to get to know the people for whom you are praying (See John 16:13).
-- Pray biblically and for boldness to take action to build relationships and plan your Matthew party the week of Nov. 7 (See Luke 14:23).
-- God is glorified when He does those things that only He can do. Pray big and expect great things (see Jeremiah 32:27, Matthew 19:26, Luke 1:37, Acts 4: 29-31, Ephesians 3:20)!
After serving as the Southern Baptist Convention prayer coordinator at North American Mission Board from 2000 to 2010, Elaine Helms is now the prayer coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham and the director of ChurchPrayerMinistries.org. She is the author of "Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know." For more information about My Hope America with Billy Graham, visit MyHopewithBillyGraham.org