Putting prayer back into its proper place

T

his past fall, God began to stir in my heart to host prayer retreats for pastors who are hungry for Him to move in a fresh way both personally and in their churches. This summer, we hosted two retreats with the support and assistance of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. 

Both of these retreats—each an incredible 48 hours dedicated to prayer—were at capacity, with a waiting list of pastors desiring to attend. In these days together, we set time aside for personal spiritual renewal, repentance, and reflection. Each pastor was given uninterrupted time to personally commune with the Lord in prayer and the Word. God used that time in a powerful way, because we know the spiritual health of a pastor will directly impact the spiritual health of the church. 

The retreat also included a corporate prayer meeting at the host church. The first retreat was held at New Beginnings in Longview where I serve, and the second at First Baptist Church Forney, where Nathan Lino is the senior pastor. This night of prayer not only served as a model for how to lead a prayer meeting, but also as a time to experience the power of God’s presence in a corporate setting. Additionally, we received some practical teaching from Lino, Fielder Church Lead Pastor Jason Paredes, SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick, and myself on personal prayer habits, preparing for a prayer meeting, and how to design an impactful prayer service. 

Here are a couple of my takeaways from the retreats: 

Personal prayerlessness is not an issue of time, but pride. 

If we are too busy to pray, then we have bought into the lie that we can lead our ministries without the power of the Holy Spirit. What I have learned is if I am not careful, I will spend the majority of my time preparing the ministry but not the minister. This causes me to lead from a place of anxiety, exhaustion, and frustration. But when I prioritize personal prayer, it allows me to lead from an overflow of the Spirit’s work in my life. When my personal prayer life is vibrant, it impacts my whole congregation.

 Corporate prayer must become the activity of first importance.

Throughout the book of Acts, you see that prayer was the highest priority within the local church. Every great movement of God through the early church was born out of corporate prayer. As we have elevated programs and strategies, we have programmed and strategized prayer out of our churches. Corporate prayer has now been minimized to brief moments in our ministries rather than the fuel that propels its movement. As a result, we are seeing declining attendance, fewer conversions and baptisms, and—most alarmingly—congregations lacking Holy Spirit power. 

I want to encourage pastors to attend one of our retreats. The next retreat will be held at New Beginnings in Longview on Oct. 10-12. Limited spots are available, so register now at PastorPrayerRetreat.org. Let’s humble ourselves and prioritize prayer like never before, anticipating the great things God will do in us and though us!

SBTC President
Todd Kaunitz
New Beginnings Baptist Church Longview
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