"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." John 6:40
Reports coming out of Houston indicate that baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention are at their lowest level in 65 years. This means that in my life-time, the SBC has drifted from a passionate pursuit of The Father's will. The stats from the states indicate they have embraced a self-serving form of Christianity that has elevated pride in their system, but has produced fewer converts to the Savior.
Why is that? It is hard to pin point the exact moment when this denomination got off course, since it is made up of autonomous churches responsible for making their own decisions, and setting their own priorities. Their loose association with a denominational structure has always been tempered by a spirit of independence that refuses to be dictated to by a top down form of leadership.
In the past 65 years Southern Baptist Churches have increased in number, wealth and membership, but not in fruit. That is disturbing. The solution requires a course correction that cannot be made by a new curriculum, a name change or the election of a consensus building President of the convention. Apparently, believing in the inerrancy of The Word of God is a poor substitute for applying the Word of God. Unfortunately, knowing what God said, and doing what God said are two different things. Some religionists have turned it into an art form that fails to reflect the image of Christ.
Jesus did not come down from heaven to do His own will, but the will of His Father who sent Him. (John 6:38) Prayer was the tool He used to keep Himself under the umbrella of God's authority and to maintain His Father's sense of direction for His life. His followers must not fail to do the same.
The redemptive plan of God was kept on course by The Redeemer keeping the lines of communication open with His Father. It is unlikely that those who are called to carry out The Father's mission and The Redeemer's commission will be able to flourish by the omission of prayer.
Prayerless people are rebellious people. By this act of omission, more than by any other act of commission, they magnify their mission, but they miss God. Prayerless people have a tendency to build up their system, while burning their bridges to The Savior. Without seeking His Father's face, Jesus would have become enamored with His mission, more than His Master. This only happens to prayerless people...EVERY TIME.
"Prayer is the intimate communication between the Heavenly Father and His child." Don Miller
This remains one of the classic definitions of prayer, and enforces the kind of emphasis prayer had on the life of Jesus. It was not a daily devotional exercise that freed Him to then launch into His own agenda. Prayer was a life-giving conversation with His Father. Prayer provided Him with direction and protection. As a result of prayer Jesus never needed His Father's correction. He obeyed Him the first time His Father spoke to Him. It is time for Southern Baptists to do the same, before it is too late.
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!