BRENTWOOD — Despite frigid temperatures “Praying Across Tennessee” got off to a strong start last week.
Though the first rally, which was set for Jan. 6 at First Baptist Church, Sevierville in Sevier County was postponed due to forecasts of snow and ice, the other five rallies went as planned on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. The Sevier County prayer rally will be rescheduled.
More than 200 people attended the prayer rallies in Dickson, Montgomery, Houston, Stewart, and Humphreys counties.
The idea of holding prayer rallies in all 95 counties in Tennessee was the idea of Randy C. Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Davis was pleased with the first five rallies.
“In one of the coldest weeks of the year, it was encouraging to see grassroots Tennessee Baptists show up to pray together,” he said.
He observed that “there is an overwhelming sense that people are hungry for a great awakening in our state.”
Davis also expressed appreciation for William Gray, director of missions for Judson, Stewart, and Truett Baptist Associations, and Rick Stevens, director of missions for Cumberland Baptist Association, for their “incredible help” in coordinating the logistics for the first week of prayer rallies in the state.
At the first rally in Dickson County, Davis told those in attendance that his goal is to cover the state in prayer through the rallies in each county.
“It is my hope that in each county we leave behind a pocket of people willing to pray regularly for their communities, their state, and their nation,” Davis said.
Each rally focused on three areas of prayer.
The first area was for brokenness. Davis cited II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Davis noted that no great awakening in history has happened without prayer.
The second focus of the prayer rallies was to express appreciation for public officials and pastors in each county.
The third focus of the prayer rallies was to pray for the lostness in Tennessee. Davis reminded those in attendance that approximately 3.65 million of the 6.2 million people in Tennessee do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
He related that the percentage of people who have relationship with Jesus Christ has gradually declined since World War II. “If this trend continues, the projection is that only one out of 10 children born since 2000 will come to know Jesus Christ,” Davis shared.
The need to reach Tennesseans with the message of salvation is imperative. “It is our responsibility to be salt and light.
“Pray for souls in Tennessee that do not yet know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” he exhorted.
At each rally, the “Salvation Bell,” a church bell on loan from FBC, Sevierville, was rung.
In December Davis observed that throughout history a bell has been used to communicate an urgent message.
The bell is to help raise awareness that Tennessee is no longer a church field, but is in reality a mission field. “We will ring that bell in each of the 95 counties in our state,” he pledged.
DOM Rick Stevens observed that “our nation and communities need prayer warriors that will intercede for the work of God in places throughout Tennessee.
“We hope that pockets of prayer will continue long after this emphasis is gone It was a blessing to hear the hearts of God’s people joined in intercession for revival, renewal, and God’s kingdom to move forward in our day,” he said.
Gray said he has heard nothing but positive reports from people he knew at the rallies. A benefit of the rallies is that they are bringing church and civic leaders together.
“In some cases, civic leaders only hear criticism. These rallies enable them to see that our churches are here to offer help and encouragement as well,” Gray said.
Bob Rial, mayor of Charlotte, attended the rally in Dickson County.
“Prayer is important,” Rial said. “To have Tennessee Baptists come and do this in our courthouse was quite an honor,” he added.