AM23: Annual meeting messengers called to prayer, thanksgiving


EULESS—Prayer permeated the opening session of the 26th annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Monday evening (Nov. 13) at Cross City Church.

For the second consecutive year, the culmination of Monday’s proceedings was a prayer meeting led by SBTC President Todd Kaunitz, lead pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church, and Nathan Lino, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Forney. Both churches have hosted prayer retreats over the past year aimed at reconnecting the hearts of their fellow pastors and church leaders across the state to prayer.

Kaunitz helped set the prayer tone earlier Monday evening as he delivered his president’s message rooted in Luke 24 and Acts 1. Kaunitz noted how Luke emphasizes the prayer life of Jesus more than any of the other gospels. That prayer focus continues into Acts, where Luke depicts the first church born out of a prayer meeting and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

“The same power that fueled the power of Jesus is also supposed to be the power that fuels the church,” Kaunitz said. He urged a return to prayer, noting there is an epidemic of prayerless pastors and churches across the country today. “Revival doesn’t start outside the church. It starts inside the church on our knees.”

Continuing into the prayer meeting, Kaunitz called upon messengers to practice what he had just preached. As the lights dimmed, the congregation sang “Lord, I Need You” and “This Is the Air I Breathe,” led by the praise team and worship leader Kyle Grizzard of New Beginnings. Individuals stood, knelt, raised hands, or bowed their heads throughout the worship center.

Two people worship and pray during the prayer meeting held on the first night of the 2023 SBTC Annual Meeting at Cross City Church. SBTC PHOTO

“Part of drawing near to God is singing and part is giving thanks to the Father,” Lino said, guiding the audience to pray in thanksgiving to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, and to praise Jesus, our advocate before the Father. Spoken prayers rippled across the auditorium.

Lino next led the crowd in a time of prayerful, personal consecration in which they meditated upon the first four Beatitudes and asked God for a spirit of humility—one that mourns sin, submits to the leadership of Christ, and hungers for righteousness. Many came forward while others knelt or stood in their places, heads bowed.

“Lord, is there anything you want to say to me? Is there anything I can do for you?” Lino urged the audience to ask. He prayed for blessings upon the convention as a whole and the next day’s gathering in particular.

Kaunitz returned to the stage, asking messengers to pray through the five markers of a mobilized church unveiled earlier in the evening by SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick. Five prayer leaders—Kaunitz, Danny Forshee, Caleb Turner, James Jordan, and Eddie Lopez—took turns guiding the group in asking the Lord for strength and power so that SBTC churches would be prayer-energized, evangelism-prioritized, disciple-making normalized, sending maximized, and partnerships synchronized.

Before closing, Kaunitz called upon individuals who were in trying circumstances to stand as others surrounded and prayed for them.

“There is no better way to begin a gathering of churches,” Kaunitz said in closing, “ … or to launch our next 25 years than with a prayer meeting.”


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