By Randy C. Davis
President & Executive Director, TBMB
Consider the Businessmen’s Revival during 1857 and 1858. Jeremiah Lanphier, a layman, was hired by the North Dutch Church in New York City and tasked with reaching people in the marketplace. Lanphier began before the Lord in humility and prayer. “Lord, what would you have me do?”
From a prayer that amounted to the widow’s mite, God gave Lanphier a simple strategy: Open the doors of the church at noon each day so businessmen could enter and pray. The first meeting was Sept. 23, just three weeks before the Bank Panic of 1857. Six attended the first week, 20 the next, then 40.
The meetings became daily and grew in number requiring other churches to open to accommodate the people.
Revivals spread everywhere throughout the United States and the world, and eventually became known as The Great Prayer Meeting Revival. An estimated 2 million people were converted to Christ and added to America’s churches.
Tennessee Baptists, we need an abundance of Jeremiah Lanphiers.
We launched the Acts 2:17 Initiative last November to understand God’s preferable future for Tennessee Baptists.
Basically, this is our asking, “Lord, what would you have us to do?” From that initial group of listening sessions at the 2022 Summit, more than 30 other Acts 2:17 sessions have taken place across the state during January, February and now into March. The feedback has been incredible.
The call was to come to the sessions “prayed up” so we could all hear God’s voice through His people. Now it would be easy for Tennessee Baptists to take the info and start cranking out ministries and programs. No one wants that. That is why we are choosing April 26 and Sept. 20 as special Acts 2:17 Days of Prayer.
The desire is for each of us to set aside a portion of each of those days to humble ourselves, turn away from our sin and ourselves, and go before the Lord and listen for what He’d have us to do. What needs are at our doorstep that He wants us to meet? What opportunities does He want us to seize?
My sincere desire for each of us personally, the churches to which we each belong, and for the 3,200 churches that comprise the Tennessee Baptist Convention, is that — in the spirit of John 17 — we’d be unified as Jesus and the Father are unified. And to pray in agreement with the Lord and each other, we need to be unified in spirit, purpose and focus.
If we want to see God move in Tennessee, like really move in a way we’ve never seen in the nearly 230 years of our state’s history or the nearly 150-year history of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, then we need to commit ourselves to an outpouring of prayer born from unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. I believe with all my heart He wants to shock us with what He can do through us for His glory and for the good of our family, friends and neighbors.
We are living in paralyzing days. Social unrest, economic uncertainty, ecclesiastical coldness and spiritual apathy abound. Looking for someone else to do something or something profound to happen does not produce clear God-provided direction or action, and action begins with humble hearts and on bended knee before the One to Whom we owe everything.
Just like Jeremiah Lanphier.
So in accord with the Apostle Paul, I charge you: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.