Theme selected for 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix

"Pray! For such a time as this" is the theme for the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix, anchored by Esther 4:14 and Luke 11:1, SBC President Steve Gaines has announced.

Prayer should be the top priority of every Christian, Gaines said in an interview outlining his choice.

"The Southern Baptist Convention needs to be a people of prayer," Gaines said in the interview with SBC LIFE, journal of the SBC. "Only then will God send the power we need to fulfill the Great Commission."

He described the accompanying Scripture choices as both personal and divine.

"Esther 4 is the text God used to allow my name to be presented as a candidate for SBC president," said Gaines, elected to the post at the 2016 annual meeting in St. Louis. "Luke 11 records the only thing Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them—how to pray."

Prayer seeking revival and spiritual awakening will be the focus of the June 13 evening session of the annual meeting, Gaines said.

"I want to encourage all of us to pray for spiritual awakening across the Southern Baptist Convention," he said. "I also want to pray that we will be a soul-winning denomination—to really tell people about Jesus Christ."

The annual meeting artwork, incorporating prayer and an hourglass, hones the urgency of prayer.

"God's timeline is running out, and I believe man's time is running out," Gaines said. "Jesus Christ is coming back, and I personally believe He could come back at any moment." Jesus' pending return to earth should urge us to pray that lost souls be saved from hell, he said.

"People are dying and they're entering eternity. If they don't have Jesus, they're going to hell," he said. "That motivates me to be about my Father's business—to pray, tell people about Jesus, win people to Christ, and help them become solid disciples."

Gaines encouraged all Southern Baptists to attend the annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center. More information is available at sbcannualmeeting.net.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.

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