SPRINGFIELD – As the MBC Annual Meeting concluded, Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church, Springdale, Arkansas, spoke to the messengers. His sermon was titled “Moving Forward in God’s Power.”
Floyd said missions organizations, state conventions, associations can drift away from their central purpose. “The danger is they lose sight of their priorities and focus, drifting away from God’s mission and power,” he said.
He told of the Great Prayer Meeting Revival in New York City in the 1800’s. Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman was burdened for the city and he called for a prayer meeting to be held at noontime for the merchants. Distributing handbills he invited them in for prayer at the church hall. Starting with a few men and then growing in a week or so to more than a thousand, the prayer revival, as it became known, was an influence on the spiritual state of New York City, but also influenced great men of God such as D.L. Moody, William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) and Charles Spurgeon, as they ministered during that Second Great Awakening in the U.S.
Floyd said “Jeremiah Lanphier was not interested in drifting aimlessly without the power of God. We have way too many pastors and churches content to go forward doing ministry but without the power of God.”
“God can get things done quicker than you or me,” he added.
Taking his Bible text from Acts 1:8, Floyd then encouraged the messengers to consider the early disciples as they gathered after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, and they prayed for a movement of God. He said, “We are still talking about it today. What they did, we must somehow also do.”
He urged everyone to depend on God and not on themselves. Prayer gave the early church great results in people being saved every day as is recorded in Acts. 2:42.
Quoting E.M. Bounds, he remarked “God shapes the world by prayer.” He elaborated, “If we take care of the depth of our walk, God will take care of the breadth.”
Floyd spoke of the 1st and 2nd Great Awakening movements and how prayer was such an important element in those revivals. Results included the modern missionary movement, the development of Christian educational institutions, the elimination of slavery and the rise of Bible publication societies. He reminded the messengers that “all of us need the power of God.”
“We cannot go forward without the power of God.”
He also pleaded for believers to cry out for an “unprecedented move of God like we have never seen before.”
“We need to pray for a 3rd Great Awakening.” Churches should schedule prayer meetings on Sunday morning, he said.
He also said, “We need an urgency in our lives and in our churches like we have never had before.”
Floyd said there are three reasons why we are not urgent to go forward with God are indicated by three problems:
1) Theological problem – we don’t believe in lostness any more.
2) Eschatological problem – we don’t really believe Jesus is coming back soon.
3) Spiritual problem – We do not believe we need to repent of our sin anymore.
He concluded by telling the story of the Vermont Haystack Prayer Meeting, where five young students from Williams College met together in a field to discuss William Carey’s work of foreign missions. A torrential rainstorm came up suddenly and they took refuge under a haystack. While there they prayed and the spirit of God came upon them. They were burdened to reach the world for Christ.
Christian ministries and mission boards were established as as result of this gathering of praying students. It was the springboard for the modern missionary movement and early Baptist missionaries such as Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice. One of the Williams Colleg estudents, Samuel J. Mills, Jr. was quoted as saying at the prayer meeting, “We can do this, if we will.”
Floyd also encouraged Missouri Baptists to “get back under the haystack” and “go forward under the power of God.”