By Diana Chandler
CLEVELAND, Tenn. (BP) — On the 15th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, Southern Baptists are being urged to join hundreds of thousands of Christians from many denominations and ethnicities in praying for a Christian awakening in the nation.
The Sept. 11 Cry Out America prayer outreach of the Awakening America Alliance and Center for Spiritual Renewal, an 8-year-old cooperative initiative encompassing more than 150,000 churches, ministries and parachurches in North America, is increasingly popular this year as more Christians recognize the nation’s deep spiritual need, Awakening America executive director Kay Horner told Baptist Press.
“I think that the nation is beginning to wake up and recognize the desperation that we are going to have to have for God to hear from heaven and heal our land. There’s just this increasing recognition that we’re desperate for God,” Horner said. “This is also such a critical year with the election and all of the security issues, the need for racial reconciliation. We anticipate a much larger increase in the churches involved, because of it being on a Sunday.”
Immediate past Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd is among leaders issuing a 9/11 prayer call this year. Most recently, Floyd issued the call during a July 17th sermon and in an Aug. 5th blogpost, asking churches to denote at least 11 minutes and up to an hour to prayer in Sept. 11 worship services.
“With great conviction, I want to ask each pastor and church in America to allocate the day to praying for our nation,” Floyd said of 9/11. “The churches of America need to pray for our country in our worship services. Not just mention it, not just pray, but pray extraordinarily.”
The stakes are especially high this year, Floyd blogged.
“Prayer brings the walls down! Prayer crosses over the perceived barriers of ethnicity, race, and generations, bringing down the walls that divide us. Let the walls fall down!” Floyd wrote. “Our sinful choices have built these walls, but Jesus’ work on the cross has brought them all down.”
He asked churches to decide for themselves how much time to give to prayer on the anniversary, encouraging between 11 minutes and an hour of prayer.
Horner expressed pleasure at Floyd’s emphasis on 9/11 prayer, part of the Cry Out America movement that began in 2008 on the steps of courthouses in the nation’s 3,143 counties and has spread to include schools, churches, and parachurch and marketplace ministries, with a presence in all 50 states.
“We like to use the terminology of Christ awakening, because you can have spiritual awakening through a number of things. But we really are encouraging people to pray for a Christ awakening and for revival in the nation,” Horner said. “Cry Out America has always involved people from different denominations and races and cultures and government, education. It’s been a unified effort. It’s much like the fall version of National Day of Prayer, that people put aside their tribes, their logos and their egos and they come together to just seek God.”
Horner included a link to Floyd’s sermon in a letter to 150,000 pastors encouraging participation in the emphasis. The letter included an exhortation from Jeff Farmer, president of the near 30,000-church strong Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA), asking churches to pray at least 11 minutes.
“This challenge issued by PCCNA President Dr. Jeff Farmer echoes the plea of Dr. Ronnie Floyd and other denominational leaders in the nation,” Horner wrote. “It should stir all of us to consider the importance of engaging in fervent, united prayer and action.
“History reveals that Great Awakenings are only birthed through extraordinary prayer. Although committing an entire morning worship service to prayer is not unusual for some congregations, for others eleven minutes of prayer would be extraordinary.”
Among those receiving the letter were the 40,000 pastors in the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference led by Samuel Rodriguez, who has broad appeal as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in The World” in 2013, and Awakening America cabinet member Mark Dance, associate vice president, LifeWay Pastors at LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tenn.
In addition to Farmer and Dance, Awakening America’s cabinet includes Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission of Camarillo, Calif.; Robert O. Bakke, senior teaching pastor of Hillside Church in Bloomington, Minn.; O.E. Battaglia, founder and president of Renaissance Communications, Wyckoff, N.J.; Sterling Brackett, co-chair, vice president of corporate affairs and COO of The Foursquare Church, Los Angeles; Billye Brim, founder of Billye Brim Ministries, Kirbyville, Mo.; Dave Butts, chairman of the National Prayer Committee and president of Harvest Prayer Ministries, Terre Haute, Ind.; Paul Cedar, chairman and CEO of Mission America Coalition, Palm Desert, Calif.;
David Ferguson, co-chair of the Great Commandment Network of Intimate Life Ministries in Austin, Texas; Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church, La Mesa, Calif.; Harry Jackson Jr., chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, Beltsville, Md.; Michael Obi, director of the African Strategic Leadership Prayer Network, Cleveland, Tenn.; Tom Phillips, vice president of The Billy Graham Library, Charlotte, N.C.; Doug Stringer, founder and president of Somebody Cares, Houston; and Jeremy Story, co-founder and president of Campus Renewal Ministries, Austin.
Free Sept. 11 prayer resources and promotional materials are available at http://awakeningamerica.us/cry-out-america-resources.