By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
[img_assist|nid=7980|title=Praying on the courthouse steps|desc=About 25 people gathered at the East Carroll Courthouse in Lake Providence on March 8 as part of Louisiana Southern Baptists praying for a spiritual awakening in the state. The event was one of 15 the first week in March. Other parts of the Wave of Prayer are to take place in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.|link=none|align=left|width=478|height=640]STATEWIDE – Prayer by Louisiana Southern Baptists is to take place at each of the courthouses in Louisiana’s 64 parishes during the months of March and April.
Church members gathered at 15 parishes for prayer during the first week of March alone, led by David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, with other members of the LBC staff and the local associational director of missions.
“I pray this will spread like wildfire,” said James Carson, DOM for the Caldwell, Deer Creek and Richland Baptist Associations, during prayer at the Caldwell Parish Courthouse in Columbia on March 8. “We do pray for spiritual awakening to start in our hearts, through our churches, to all Christians, as we … continue to confess and ask for cleansing in our hearts.”
About 30 people participated in each of first week’s prayer vigils. That number is expected to grow.
The concept is that as a wave of prayer washes across Louisiana, it will gain momentum, resulting in more prayer, more fervency, and more power as the Holy Spirit unleashes a spiritual awakening, LBC leaders said.
Hankins is so committed to this, he said, that he plans to participate in each one of the parish prayer vigils, which are to culminate Sunday afternoon, April 29, on the steps of the state capitol in Baton Rouge. Gov. Bobby Jindal has been invited to that prayer event.
In physics, a wave – simply stated – is a disturbance that transfers energy. The parish-by-parish Wave of Prayer is one aspect of a concerted effort to set the stage for a God-sent spiritual awakening as Southern Baptists celebrate 200 years of ministry in Louisiana, and 200 years of Louisiana statehood.
More than 500 churches already have participated in 21 days of prayer and fasting. (See related article on page 13 of this issue of the Baptist Message.) Other churches plan to do the same between now and Easter, and still others, later in the year. Some of the 500 initial churches have indicated they plan to have another 21 days of prayer and fasting in early 2013.
“It’s Time … to Awaken” is the over-arching theme for each of the major LBC events of the year.
“We cannot program, plan, or demand spiritual awakening,” according to the www.lbc.org/awaken website. “However, we can prepare for it, pray for it, and plead with God to send it.”
The website lists four ways to engage with the “It’s Time to Awaken” emphasis:
n 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting: Commit your church and yourself to participate in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Suggested dates are 21 prior to Easter (March 19-April 8), or after Easter (April 9-April 29) but any time that works for your church calendar is fine. You can find resources at www.LBC.org/Awaken/21Days
n Commit to focus on the need for spiritual awakening by delivering a God-inspired message to your congregation on this subject.
n Celebrate what God has done in 200 years of ministry in Louisiana on Sunday, April 29.
n Participate in various opportunities during the year to focus on the need for spiritual awakening.
To those who ask why they should participate in Awaken, “200 years ago Baptists heard the voice of God in a new and fresh way that called them to Louisiana,” according to the website. “Like most things God does, it started small and grew by the power of His Spirit into what is today over 500,000 Southern Baptists worshipping in 1,600 churches “However, during this 200 years of ministry in Louisiana there has never been a spiritual awakening, a movement of God that sweeps across the state changing the lives of people, churches and ultimately the culture.
“Imagine what could happen if more than a half-a-million people, young and old, men and women of all races in Louisiana humbled themselves before the face of Almighty God? What if they gave themselves to a Spirit-led shift in priority that put His will above their own? The explosion of Godly passion would change Louisiana – and the world – It’s Time!”
Truck driver Michael Lincecum, a member of First Baptist Church of Columbia, participated in the March 8 prayer vigil at the Caldwell Parish Courthouse because, he said, he sees the need for prayer.
“We’ve got so much stuff going on in our country,” Lincecum said. “It’s time for change. Let God do it.”