[img_assist|nid=8045|title=Prayer under the Oaks|desc=LBC Executive Director David Hankins (right) addresses a small crowd under the stately oak trees that surround the St. Martin Parish Courthouse in St. Martinville before leading them in prayer. As the Wave of Prayer rolls through the state, it is building in intensity toward the April 29 finale on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=360]By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
BATON ROUGE – The Wave of Prayer that started in early March is building in intensity as it rolls south through Louisiana, stretching between the borders of Mississippi and Texas, and from as far north as the border with Arkansas to as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.
Southern Baptists across Louisiana are invited to gather for the final stop of this two-month journey on at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 29, on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Hundreds are expected to participate in the late afternoon event, which will feature a 100-voice combined choir,
David Hankins, Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and, perhaps, Governor Bobby Jindal.
“It’s been inspiring to hear testimonies of what God is doing in the churches as a result of the 21 Days of Prayer and the Awaken emphasis,” Hankins says. “A common thread that I’ve seen in these gatherings is the people are sensing that God is beginning to move, that God is up to something.”
The Wave of Prayer is part of the Awaken 2012 emphasis that calls on Louisiana Baptists to participate in 21 days of prayer and fasting in their churches, and in a parish-by-parish time of prayer at courthouses across the state, as well as other opportunities to call upon God to send a spiritual awakening in Louisiana.
“It’s Time,” leaders say, because in the 200 years Louisiana has been a state and in 200 years of Baptist ministry in the Louisiana, there has not been a widespread spiritual awakening.
“We intend to do all we can to encourage our people to examine themselves, asking God to awaken them, and then pray for our leaders, and plead with God to send a much-needed spiritual awakening to Louisiana,” Hankins said. “We believe it’s time.”
Tommy Middleton, director of missions for the Baton Rouge association, said he expects a good turnout for the event. Several of the association’s larger churches, as well as many smaller congregations, have cancelled evening services April 29 to be able to participate, he said.
“I think it’s always good when God’s people get together for the expressed purpose of seeking Him and dedicating ourselves to seeing His will accomplished in our state,” Middleton said.
“The reality is that we need revival – we need awakening – starting with this guy right here,” the DOM said, referring to himself.
“We aren’t looking to the Legislature to accomplish His will in Louisiana; we’re not looking to Legislators to bring revival,” Middleton said. “It’s our confession and our contrition before a Holy God that will bring about the revival.
“We should be a witness in the marketplace and let our voice be heard in the public arena. We need to be salt and light,” the DOM continued. “But that is not solely what we ultimately want to do. We need to seek God and let Him change us from our spiritual malaise. It’s not the Legislators’ fault we’re in the mess we’re in; it’s ours.
“The early church didn’t have any influence politically but they had power,” Middleton said. “They prayed and God moved. We’ve lost that; we’ve become so politically-minded that we think our solutions should be by the vote and judicial decisions. We have abandoned that pristine position, being a praying people.”
Middleton was referring, he said, to the humility, brokenness and dependence on God expressed in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people will humble themselves and pray …. – and 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone ….
Hankins is speaking at each of the 30-minute parish Wave of Prayer events, which continue through to the April 29 event at the State Capitol.
“It’s our duty and our privilege to pray for our state,” Hankins said at the Wave of Prayer in Columbia. “We have the opportunity to give thanks, the opportunity to be intercessors.”
Jessie Charpentier Sr., pastor of Jenkins Memorial Baptist Church in St. Martinville, participated in the St. Martinville Wave of Prayer.
“It was encouraging to know that Jesus Himself was in our midst under the Evangeline Oak,” Charpentier said. “There was a wonderful spirit of prayer within the prayer groups.”
Cameron Parish, south of Lake Charles, is the largest parish in Louisiana in land mass, but one of the smallest in population. It continues to recover from two major hurricanes, so the concept of a “Wave” of prayer resonated, reported Cyndi Sellers, a member of First Baptist Church of Cameron.
“As the hurricanes swept away much of the old Cameron, allowing us to rebuild even better, God can sweep away the old self and create a new, better person in its place,” Sellers said. “Many who gathered to pray last Wednesday [at the Cameron Parish Courthouse] were touched by Dr. Hankins’ words.
“Thank you for coming to Cameron,” Sellers continued. “We would love to see a wave of prayer sweeping across Louisiana … sweeping away the old, leaving a clean slate for the new and better world that can be.”
Only God can bring revival and spiritual awakening, Hankins has said several times since introducing the Awaken – It’s Time thrust at the LBC’s annual meeting last November. The 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, and the parish-by-parish Wave of Prayer, were designed to turn the thoughts and hearts of Louisiana Baptists back to a dependency on God that could lead to a movement from God that hasn’t been seen on a large scale in the state since it became an organized part of the nation.
“Moving forward, I want to encourage everyone to follow up and follow through on the things God has placed on your heart,” Hankins said, “and to continue to plead with God to send a much-needed awakening to our churches and our state.”
Parking for the 5 p.m. Sunday, April 29, Wave of Prayer at the State Capitol is available in several parking lots adjacent to the capitol grounds.