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Prayer journeys serve as preparation for Crossover Metro Atlanta events
-by Doy Cave
ATLANTA, June 13--Though the present state of affairs in America would seem to indicate otherwise, statistics say 90 percent of Americans pray.
     With that thought in mind, members of the Southern Baptist Bold Mission Prayer Thrust team have adopted a new "Prayer Journeys" concept that uses prayer while traveling through an area to help lead people to Christ.
     Prayer Journey was modeled June 11-12 during Crossover Metro Atlanta, the annual evangelism emphasis preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
     At the prayer tent in Centennial Olympic Park, participants could come by as they desired, pick up Prayer Journey and witnessing materials and start on their journey. They could stop at stations in the park, travel by car, on the MARTA train or any other type of transportation to pray over the city of Atlanta.
     Chris Schofield, manager of the NAMB prayer evangelism unit, said the move to the new strategy is the result of a growing awareness across the country of the need for prayer.
     "We are in the midst of one of the biggest prayer movements in North America," he said. "Not only are people hungry for a thriving prayer life, denominations are seeing the need to put full-time staff people in prayer positions."
     Schofield said with the new awareness of prayer has come a movement toward prayer evangelism, or winning the lost through prayer, which is based in biblical principles. The idea of the Prayer Journey, according to NAMB prayer strategist Thomas Wright, is to involve non-Christians in a conversation that is already taking place.
     "When we're praying on-site, we need to be sure that we are the vessels he can use," he said. "If we're going to be biblical, our house of prayer [us] must 'seek and save the lost.' What you're essentially doing on a Prayer Journey is helping people to get in on a conversation you're having with the Lord."
     The response to Prayer Journeys has been overwhelming, Wright said. At every prayer journey site nationally, he said each group has seen at least one divine encounter with Christ.
The same was true during Crossover.
     Schofield recounted the story of a group that went on a Prayer Journey through an Atlanta neighborhood. While they walked through the neighborhood, praying out loud, a woman of another religion was working in her yard and asked what they were doing. The group explained that they were praying for the neighborhood to hear the gospel of Jesus through preaching the Bible, activities and other venues.

     "The Bible?" the woman asked. "Yes," one of the men in the group replied. "The book that God wrote."
     "God wrote a book?" the woman asked excitedly.
     Woods Watson of Arlington, Texas, said, "I'm not old enough to remember the Bay of Pigs incident in Cuba, but I do know why they call it that. They call it that because when the troops arrived on the coast of Cuba to invade it, they didn't have any air support. As a result, they were all gunned down. It was devastating. Prayer is the same way. Prayer is that air cover for God's troops, and without it, we would fail miserably."
     Schofield said the Bold Mission Prayer Thrust team is already making prayer preparations for next year's Crossover event in Orlando, Fla.
     "The whole idea is to keep prayer from being something separate from the events or a separate event in itself," he said. "Prayer is vital. Biblically, we see that prayer permeated everything the disciples were about and what they did. God wants us to be in such an attitude of prayer that it is in and out of our daily conversation. Then it becomes a life, because that's what prayer is and that's what evangelism is."
     Printed resources on Prayer Journeys developed by the North American Mission Board will be available in July through LifeWay Christian Resources.

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