CLARKSVILLE — First Baptist Church of Clarksville Visitation Pastor Bill Graham has desired continuous citywide prayer for the city ever since reading about the Unceasing Prayer Movement in Austin, Texas. There, Kie Bowman helps lead pastors in making sure someone is praying every minute of the year.
First Clarksville hosted Bowman, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s prayer ministry, in a City of Prayer Conference Jan. 12-14 aimed at creating an unceasing prayer movement in Clarksville and Montgomery County.
At the core of the movement is a cross-denominational involvement of Christian pastors, to date including Southern Baptist, National Baptist, Pentecostal, nondenominational, African Methodist Episcopal and Assembly of God churches.
“No revival has ever come to America that was localized in one denomination,” Bowman told Baptist Press. “The high tide lifts all boats.”
More than 100 individuals attended the event at First Clarksville, representing 12 churches and including 10 pastors, Graham said. Two area pastors, Will Binkley of Lone Oak Baptist Church and Anthony L. Alfred Sr. of Family of Faith Church, have joined Graham as the core team launching the local movement.
“That we would be epicenter for a prayer movement in our region,” is Graham’s hope for the movement. “I’m impressed with what’s happened in Austin. They’ve been working on this for 15 years. They now have over 100 churches taking one day a month and each month, they pray for 24 hours. So Austin, Texas, is one of the most prayed for cities in America.”
Bowman, pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, leads the prayer movement there with Trey Kent, senior pastor at Northwest Fellowship. Kent launched the movement in 2009, with Bowman joining in 2014. About 10 churches have contacted the two about launching movements in their cities, Bowman said.
As designed, each pastor would lead members of his congregation in signing up to pray in 30- or 60-minute time slots, often with several members in each slot. All Christian churches are eligible to participate in Clarksville, but each city would determine the boundaries of participation.
“It is a kingdom perspective” in organizing the movement as cross-denominational, Graham said. “Anybody that believes in Jesus and is going to heaven, we’re going to be worshiping together there, so we might as well get in practice here.”
Ronny Raines, senior pastor at First Clarksville, also appreciates that kingdom focus.
“That we come together as like-minded believers in Christ,” Raines described his objective, “and that we pray for our city leaders, that we pray for one another’s pastors and churches, and that we pray for people in our city who need the Gospel, but also who need the ministry of the church.”
Bowman led conference attendees in an opening Friday evening, Saturday educational sessions on how to lead a citywide prayer movement, and preached the Sunday sermon. Among attendees were Clarksville Democratic Mayor Joe Pitts and his wife Cynthia, who received prayers from conference attendees.
Graham has purchased 40 copies of “City of Prayer,” Bowman’s and Kent’s book, to share with local pastors in an upcoming organizational luncheon for the desired Clarksville movement.
Bowman, whose work with the SBC Executive Committee fulfills the committee’s newest ministry assignment to assist churches in elevating the ministry of prayer, said the Austin movement has changed his ministerial view.
“It has totally changed my perspective on life and ministry since I’ve been involved in this,” Bowman said. “Here’s the thing. We don’t like the way things are going in the country. We don’t like the secularization of our cities and our neighborhoods. We don’t like that. So what are we going to do about it?
“Well, prayer moves the hand that moves the world. As influential as Southern Baptists are,” he said, “there’s no way we can have genuine spiritual awakening in a community that happens only with us.” B&R