Until prayer becomes the top priority in our churches, we still have work to do. I encourage every believer to raise your level of prayer involvement, Tolbert says.
Collaboration is the order of the day for the National Baptist Convention of America International (NBCA) Inc.
I serve as NBCA's president, and we have prayerfully and strategically sought to serve affiliated congregations in relevant ways by recognizing that the resources required to accomplish our mission are many times outside our primary constituency.
Numerous partnerships have been forged by NBCA for the benefit of our congregations. There is a tremendous need to bring people together for the good of our nation and the world.
One of the most powerful ways to bring people together is to get them to pray together. The spiritual discipline of prayer is certainly a marvelous opportunity for collaboration. It is a spiritual collaboration beyond imagination.
As we participate in the National Day of Prayer, we need to realize how prayer is essential to our future peace and survival.
The spiritual power manifesting in the lives of praying people is stronger than any negative force at work in the world today.
It is amazing how churches come together to sing, to eat and even sometimes to participate in various healthy athletic competitions. These all are amiable assemblies.
Yet, there is a great need for an enlargement of people praying together. We all have common human challenges that praying together can become a panacea.
I received an interesting message from a Muslim woman recently. She wanted to attend a Catholic church about an hour from my hometown to pray and left me a voice mail asking, "What time does church start?"
I did not get all her message until after our services concluded, so instead of going to the Catholic Church for prayer, she went to a Buddhist temple. She informed me she entered, prayed and departed.
This Muslim woman now plans to attend a Catholic church on this coming Sunday and our Baptist church soon. She only wants to come and pray.
My point is this: We need more persons who seek to speak with God and become sensitive to hearing God speak back to them.
This Muslim woman desired to come to a Christian church and pray, and many people in our Christian churches will not come to church just to pray.
Christians are deeply convicted of our way of praying. It is in Jesus' name and through Jesus that our prayers reach the ever-listening Father.
My prayer is that we (Christians) will seek to increase our time in prayer. There should be a wildfire of prayer interest around the world for peace, the eradication of hunger, the rebuilding of family units, mass incarceration and the other challenges.
During today's National Day of Prayer, let us be reminded to take advantage of prayer opportunities every day and to remember that our prayers would be enhanced by praying in community with others.
The assurance that we have is that God will hear and answer sincere prayers. The Bible is replete with invitations from the Lord for us to pray.
For example, God invites us to pray in Jeremiah 33:3. "Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own."
NBCA has churches engaged in prayer meetings and vigils across the U.S. today because we believe in the power of prayer.
Until prayer becomes the top priority in our churches, we still have work to do. I encourage every believer to raise your level of prayer involvement.
When we do, our preaching, teaching, witnessing, missional endeavors and all will become more effective. Praying together according to God's Word is worth every word.
Samuel C. Tolbert Jr. is president of the National Baptist Convention of America International Inc., pastor of Greater St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and current president of the North American Baptist Fellowship. You can follow him on Twitter @ssamtolbert.
Editor's note: This article is part of a series about the National Day of Prayer.
The previous articles in the series are:
Are You Ready for the National Day of Prayer?
Why National Day of Prayer Is More Urgent Than Ever