By Allen Palmeri
RAYTOWN—Figuring out what God accomplishes during a Solemn Assembly like the one that took place Oct. 25 in the Atrium of First Baptist Church here is like wrestling with a rainbow.
Elaine Helms, national prayer coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), came to this setting just before the 175th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) to lead about 50 people in the sober disciplines of the sacred gathering. She knows because of human frailty that methods cannot always be trusted; indeed, she stated that even though we are all very familiar with various prayer acrostics where we are taught to do all of the talking, God has all of the wisdom.
Silent prayer where God can convict us of sin is something she recommends. Practicing the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is trustworthy, is another one of her non-original ideas.
“I just kind of ask the Lord what He wants me to do, and when He gives me something … like one of the Scriptures I shared, I hadn’t even thought about it,” she said. “It just opened there, and just, ‘Read this.’”
Are we talking about wrapping our arms around the wind?
“Yeah, yeah,” she said. “It’s a little bit like that.”
Bob Loggins, MBC prayer and spiritual awakening specialist, said that the point of Oct. 25 was to “spend time in prayer.” Helms came to the microphone with a familiar pattern—the ACTS method of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. However, her manner of leading through the two-hour session was different in that it included much time working through her own “Scriptural Soap for Confession of Sin” document. It is billed as a hotel-size bar of soap that helps steer people toward repentance and a cleansed life.
An anchor throughout the Solemn Assembly was MBC Worship Specialist John Francis. He softly played the piano and sang numerous songs in reverent fashion throughout the evening.
For the Adoration section, Helms led the group through the attributes of God by means of the alphabet. God was worshipped from A through Z. An example of how she prayed came out of the R-S-T portion.
“You’re the Rock of Ages,” she said. “You uphold us with your righteous right hand. Thank you, Lord, that you’re our Savior. You’re our shield. Your name is a strong tower; the righteous run in and they are safe. Thank you, Lord, that you are tried and true. You are triumphant. Lord, you have a terrible swift sword.”
Helms encouraged participants to confess sins of their thought life, judgmental attitudes, jealousy, selfish ambition, pride, speech, unforgiveness, forgetfulness, omission, and improper use of money.
By this point, many of the participants who were now gathered in eight small groups throughout the Atrium were praying on their knees.
The Thanksgiving segment was directed toward thanking God for His forgiveness of our sin. Helms then urged participants to take action, commissioning them to go 1-on-1 with another person so their plans could be confirmed. The goal of this type of accountability is cleansing of sin.
For the Supplication part, two people went to the microphone to pray for a godly annual meeting and a higher level of service. Another participant then edified the group, leading Francis to sing and play, “I Am a Friend of God.”
As Loggins brought the meeting to a close, he did so by getting folks to clap their hands in praise to a Holy God. Everyone formed a circle and held hands as Helms voiced the closing prayer.
“I pray that You would bless each one for taking the time to spend here,” she prayed. “Thank you, Lord, for spending time here with us.”
This was the third consecutive year that a Solemn Assembly preceded the annual meeting.