Do we need a new Great Awakening? How could any believer say other than “Yes!” Is such a thing possible? In the words of my friend and our new SBC President Ronnie Floyd, when “the skeptics doubt and the cynics mock, we need to pray.” Because with man it would be impossible, but with God all things are possible.
Ronnie’s practical advice on how to get there, below.
Extraordinary Prayer for the Next Great Awakening: What is it? How do we do it?
by Ronnie Floyd
July 1, 2014
What is extraordinary prayer? How do we practice extraordinary prayer? Is another Great Awakening even possible?
Each of these questions is absolutely worthy of an answer. Prayer, fasting, revival, spiritual awakening, evangelism, church planting, and the call to complete the Great Commission are not a new message for me. God first placed these messages deep within my life, then through my ministry, and later began to be expressed through the publishing of several books.
Therefore, my burden to pray for and see the Third Great Awakening in my lifetime is real. Since being elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I have targeted my Monday blogs to my Southern Baptist family.
The Call to Columbus for June 16-17, 2015, is genuine and one that I pray each of you will respond to personally, not only in prayer, but with attendance. As stated again last week, I believe one of the most strategic things we can do is to cry out to God in extraordinary prayer, asking Him for the next Great Awakening.
What is extraordinary prayer?
Extraordinary prayer is experienced when you pray beyond your normal practice to pray. I realize this is an oversimplification of a deep subject, but in reality, that is what it is. For example, if a person is praying five minutes a day or an hour a day, anything beyond what is their “ordinary” becomes “extraordinary.”
Furthermore, I believe extraordinary prayer becomes even more defined when that prayer is uttered before the Father in Heaven for a specific item. For the last several months, I have been calling upon pastors, spiritual leaders, and churches to pray specifically for the next Great Awakening.
Practicing extraordinary prayer in our life can become extraordinary in several ways:
- Extraordinary in Time: This is in relationship to the length of our praying.
- Extraordinary in Days: This is in relationship to the number of days we focus our prayer on a need.
- Extraordinary in Commitment: This is in relationship to the commitment of fasting, or the sacrifice of something you love to focus your prayer. Or perhaps even leaving your normal life, retreating to be with God alone, letting Him speak to you about it.
Personally, in recent months, there have two extended times of fasting, when most of my prayer has been focused on personal revival, spiritual revival in my church, and spiritual awakening in our nation; that I would see the Great Commission raised to its rightful priority, asking God to see it completed in our generation. Through these seasons as well as special days, God has placed this burden on my heart deeply, but at the same time, raising hope within me that this is the season when God wants to do something God-sized, extraordinary in our lives, churches, and nation.
Therefore, I believe it is incumbent upon me to call upon all of us to move into a year-long season of extraordinary prayer for the next Great Awakening.
Is a Great Awakening possible?
Without a doubt, another Great Awakening is possible because as recorded in Matthew 19:26, “With God, all things are possible.” While the skeptics doubt and the cynics mock, we need to pray. We need to believe God.
The Big Questions is: Are we as desperate to see God move in America as the times themselves are desperate in America? I believe firmly, God will move in our lives and churches to the level of our desperation. As Christ-followers, we need to be hungering for God to bring awakening to America.
In our Southern Baptist Convention, we need to be thirsty and hungry for the righteousness of God. We need to long for a move of God that will change our business as usual thinking and vision, igniting us into exploding churches and gospel acceleration that is unprecedented in history.
While some may doubt it is possible and others may mock it and say it cannot happen, our God can do anything, anytime, with anyone. He can do more in a moment than we can ever do in a lifetime. There has never been a great move of God that is not first preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people.
In fact, Jonathan Edwards had some direct words to pastors. In Alvin Reid’s, The Narrative of Awakening, he records what Edwards did and wrote in “Some Thoughts” in “Complete Works.” He writes,
So it is God’s will that the prayers of His saints shall be great and the principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s Kingdom in the world. When God has something to accomplish for His church, it is with His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayer of His people.
Yes, God is calling His people to rise up and call out to Him in extraordinary prayer for the next Great Awakening.
How can we practice extraordinary prayer in our churches?
As I bring this to closure, I want to give to you four ways we can practice extraordinary prayer in our churches. If you lead a Christian ministry of some kind, you could do something similar.
1. Set aside a specific time in your worship services to talk about a specific thing and pray together beyond the normal for God to do it. Last week in our worship services, moving in the flow of a song, I requested for our people to move into groups of five to seven for a focused time of prayer. I asked one person per group to pray, or they could all pray silently together, praying in agreement for our Student Camp. We had just at 500 high school students leaving that afternoon for our camp, and I listed several things related to the camp. Two of those things related to many students coming to Christ and several surrendering to the ministry.
Yesterday, I informed our people that God heard our prayers, as fifty-three students became followers of Jesus Christ and nineteen other students surrendered their lives to ministry or missions around the world. Together, we prayed extraordinarily and our God moved miraculously and extraordinarily. By the way, yesterday, we targeted our extraordinary prayer time asking God for the next Great Awakening. We prayed on our knees for this need personally, then I led a prayer for each of us to engage personally in the evangelization of our own Northwest Arkansas region.
2. Set aside a time of extraordinary prayer in your small group. Move beyond just praying for the sick, but for a mighty move of God. Pray for lost people by name in an extraordinary manner.
3. Set aside a night of praying together extraordinarily. In May, our worship team spent a Tuesday night in Dallas, leading the entire Prestonwood Staff Team and spouses (some 600 plus people) in four hours of prayer. This was a powerful, convicting, God-sized night of praying. Your church could set aside a night, just for praying for the next Great Awakening.
4. Set aside a Sunday morning worship service committed to extraordinary prayer. We did this in October of last year. My friends, Ted Traylor of Pensacola, Florida; Grant Etheridge of Hampton, Virginia; and Mac Brunson, of Jacksonville, Florida have all set aside a Sunday morning committed to praying as a church extraordinarily. Each have testified of the dynamic moving of God that occurred then and since in their churches. Yes, the entire service can be set aside for extraordinary prayer that is Bible-based, Jesus-centered, Spirit-led, and worshipped-expressed, targeting revival personally, revival in the church, awakening in America, and seeing the Great Commission finished in our generation.
There are many other ways I could share, but perhaps this may encourage you that you can find a way to personally and in your church, practice extraordinary prayer. The time is now.
— Ronnie Floyd is Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and President of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination.