Without a doubt, the key to the success of TexasHope 2010 is prayer.
One of my early ministry heroes was Claude O’Neal of Gonzales. I was 25 when I became his pastor, and he was 93. He spent much of his life as a banker and a bivocational minister of music and education. When he was 64, he believed God called him to preach. He was called to be pastor of his first church and remained there for 18 years.
During my last year at Gonzales, Bro. O’Neal was practically blind and hardly left his house. He was my prayer partner, and I would go to his house and pray with him. I asked him what had been his most important year of ministry. He said the previous year. I thought he had misunderstood my question. Bro. Claude had been a much-loved pastor and staff member, having performed hundreds of baptisms, weddings and funerals. The last year, he had done almost nothing outside of his house because of his health. Yet he claimed it had been his most productive.
I asked him to explain. Bro. O’Neal said: “I have been busy all of my life doing ministry, and I had little time for prayer. This last year, I have done very little except pray. This has been my most effective year of ministry.” When I asked him about his prayers, I began to realize the successes we had experienced as a congregation had been born in his prayers.
The three-fold challenge of TexasHope 2010 is prayer, care and share. Prayer is listed first because it is most important. Only God can bring transformation. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts. God already is working in the hearts of seekers across the state. We must pray for God to open our eyes to those who cross our paths. Through prayer, God will give us a burden for the physically and spiritually hungry. By prayer, we will ask God to provide workers for the harvest.
We are asking 100,000 Texas Baptists to make a commitment to pray every day at noon for the poor and the lost. We also have provided A Call to Prayer, a 30-day prayer guide in Spanish and in English, for individuals and churches to use as we join together in a statewide concert of prayer. Information about these and other prayer resources is available at texashope2010.com. You also can sign up to be part of Prayer 1200 at the same site.
In a recent blog, Rick Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brownwood, wrote: “Five of eight young people who made decisions this week professed their faith publicly yesterday. I heard from another church about a salvation of an older person yesterday as well. I think the praying Texas is doing for lost people at noon each day is resulting in baptisms in our churches.”
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s spend time with him in prayer and ask him to bring wildfires of revival across Texas.
Randel Everett is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.