Attending Last Week's Historic Prayer Gathering
Here is a report of the meeting I attended in Atlanta last Wednesday and Thursday:
Historic Prayer Gathering Unites National Leaders
Atlanta, Ga. — Leaders from varying streams of Christendom came together in unity to pray with one another for our nation.
The Awakening America Alliance began the New Year with hosting denominational, church network, prayer, and marketplace ministry leaders for a two-day, Cry Out to the Lord Solemn Assembly in Atlanta. A time for intense prayer, the event was moderated by Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and David Ferguson, Director of The Great Commandment Network.
The Solemn Assembly might have been just like any other leadership gathering . . . but it was not! No keynote speakers or long messages filled the program! Prayer was the priority, and prayer is what happened. The dozens of national and international leaders, who stepped to the stage, were given a specific prayer focus and an allotted time. This was followed by individual and corporate prayers of humility, repentance, and intercession. No introductions, no logos, or egos, just prayer—extraordinary, united prayer.
United Focus Christian leaders purposely set aside divisive religious or political issues and centered their focus on the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the authority of His Word, and the Great Commission imperative. After opening comments by Dr. Floyd, each one bowed on their knees as a sign of humility before the Lord.
A Time for Repentance Leading the group in a time of personal repentance, Byron Paulus of Life Action Ministries challenged the Assembly to recognize, "Revival begins when pastors and leaders repent before God . . . we don't want to prolong or accelerate the judgment of God, and we don't want to be the people who hold back the presence of God in our day." As the nation of Uganda has experienced, revival will come as a result of devastation rather than desperation. "What are we going to do in America to keep that from happening?" commented Paulus.
In a time of national repentance, Jeff Farmer, Chairman of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America, reminded the leaders, “The first Commandment—You shall have no other gods before Me—was not by chance. The sin of idolatry is like the head of the octopus with its many tentacles of materialism, hedonism, intellectualism, secularism, and existentialism.” Yet Farmer offered hope if we will repent and rally to God. “We can experience renewed hope, freedom, and the presence of God,” he continued.
Freedom from Strongholds Sammy Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, shared brief insights from Scripture to set the atmosphere for Awakening America Alliance Cabinet members, Doug Stringer, Dave Butts, Paul Cedar, and Tom Phillips to lead prayers focusing on the power of God to free us from strongholds such as pride, ecclesiastical complacency, competition, pervasive pessimism, and misplaced priorities.
Necessity for Revival Tony Perkins with Family Research Council and Harry Jackson with The Reconciled Church spoke briefly of the necessity for revival in America. “Like squeezing an empty tube of toothpaste, we have squeezed the blessings of past generations until it is now empty. We must have a new experience of His presence,” said Perkins.
“Our people will move with us as we go in God’s presence and power . . . Your denomination, relationships, influence are not going to do it unless you plug in and download the power of God,” concluded Bishop Jackson as he led the Assembly in prayer.
Recommissioning In a recommissioning for the Great Commission, Steve Douglass, President of Cru, emphasized the primary reason that Christ came was “to seek and save those doomed for destruction.” Quoting the words of the late Vonnette Bright, he shared, “When you get close enough to God, you are compelled to tell others about Him.”
The passionate pleas of NextGen leaders, Nick Hall and Jeremy Story, reverberated from a shared platform with seasoned ministers such as Tony Evans, the 2016 Honorary Chairman for the National Day of Prayer. The call came for united prayer gatherings during RezWeek on college campuses, on the Mall in D.C. for Together2016, and The Gathering 2016 in Dallas.
Dr. Evans stated: “God will not skip the church house to change the White House . . . A movement bigger than a brand, larger than a logo, more powerful than a personality is what we need.”
In the final session, Bob Bakke reminded the Assembly of key components of past Great Awakenings— prayer, pastor renewal, and courageous preaching on the issues of the day. Claude King, Mark Dance, Mac Pier, Alton Garrison, Terri Snead, and Awakening Alliance Executive Director Kay Horner joined others in sharing opportunities and leading prayers for engagement during the coming year.
A Model for 2016 With the hope that the Cry Out to the Lord Solemn Assembly would serve as a model for 2016 gatherings, the organizing teams challenged leaders to encourage their constituents to host their own sacred assemblies throughout the year. Pentecost (May 15) and Cry Out America on 9/11(the 15th anniversary of a critical wake-up call for the nation) were recommended as ideal Sundays to call local congregations to prayer.
Of an estimated 350,000 churches in the United States, more than 120,000 were represented by leadership in the room. National prayer and marketplace leaders present expanded the reach exponentially. From the beginning of the gathering, there was an electrifying anticipation that God was going to do something great. Seasoned leaders commented that they hadn’t seen this kind of prayer gathering in a very long time.