ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- Southern Baptist leaders are hoping churches will start 2013 with an emphasis on prayer and the lost during the month-long SBC Call to Prayer beginning Jan. 1.
The effort will help churches focus on prayer in several key ways toward seeking to engage those without Christ.
"The SBC Call to Prayer is a pivotal opportunity as churches cast a vision for ministry in 2013," said SBC President Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. "This coming January we will have the chance to gather as a denomination and center our thoughts and prayers on the lost in our communities and around the world."
Among the emphases of the SBC Call to Prayer are:My Family and Friends
. Select a friend or family member and pray that they would come to faith in Christ.My Nation
. Select a Send North America city and pray for the church planting efforts in that area (www.namb.net/cities
. Select an unreached people group and pray that the Gospel would be advanced among these people (URL=http://www.imb.org/prayerthreads]www.imb.org/prayerthreads).
By using online resources and partnership with state Baptist conventions and local Baptist associations, churches can design events and prayer opportunities that fit specific needs.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for pastors to lead their churches in praying for their families, their communities, and lost people around the world," said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. "These are tools and resources we hope every church can use to lead their people into a deeper prayer life for the coming year."
Al Gilbert, NAMB's interim vice president for evangelism, hopes the emphasis will help Southern Baptists view the lost around them in a new way.
"We need to pray with the question in mind, 'Who do I know who needs to know Christ?'" Gilbert said. "It's an opportunity to really think through and intercede even as we seek to penetrate lostness.
"When Jesus saw the lost, He was moved with compassion. But notice the first thing He asked His disciples to do," Gilbert said. "He told them to pray to the Lord of the harvest. Often we don't see it as a harvest; we see it as people who don't want to know Christ. But that's not the way God sees it."
Gilbert encouraged Southern Baptists to be evangelistically minded in 2013 and said participation in the SBC Call to Prayer is a great way to begin.
"As we approach the New Year, who do we know who needs to know Christ?" he said. "It should become a natural question that we ask and something we regularly pray about, and I think this is an opportunity to help us begin to shape our thinking for the coming year."
To learn more about the SBC Call to Prayer, visit www.namb.net/sbccalltoprayer
Adam Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.