Prayer convention coming to Shandon

The national convention of the Church Prayer Leaders Network, an organization whose vision is “to equip every church in every city to become an effective, joyful ‘house of prayer for all nations,’?” is coming to South Carolina for the first time.

Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia will host the 8th annual session of the national convention June 11-13 with the theme, “Seeking Christ’s Glory … with Passion.”

Jon Graf

Jon Graf, president of CPLN, in a telephone interview with The Baptist Courier, said the convention is aimed at all who have “a hunger to grow in prayer and in seeking God,” adding that past conventions have been praised as “powerful and dynamic.”

Graf, who has been a consultant for Shandon’s prayer ministry and led prayer conferences at the Columbia church in 2006 and 2007, said, “We are very excited about coming to Shandon.”

Jerry Long, minister of evangelism, missions and prayer at Shandon, said, “Shandon is honored to serve as the host site for the 2008 prayer convention. We have great faith in Jon Graf and in his organization’s ability to produce an effective conference on prayer.”

He continued, “Our desire is to help provide an opportunity for believers all over South Carolina and beyond to have their walk with Christ empowered through learning how to be effective intercessors.”

Long encouraged South Carolina Baptist Convention church members to attend. “Even if they cannot attend the daytime conferences, we encourage them to attend the open-to-the-public worship services Wednesday-Friday nights,” he said.

At the convention, more than 40 workshops will be offered, Graf said, noting that “most will be aimed at helping people with their personal prayer lives.”

The organization’s president, who was the founding editor of “Pray!” magazine and is the author of “The Power of Personal Prayer,” told the Courier of CPLN’s role of helping churches “to challenge, to encourage, to be catalysts for their people to go deeper in prayer.”

Graf will be a keynote speaker for the convention in addition to leading several workshops, including what he termed “a pre-conference mini-conference” entitled “Learning to Pray with Faith and Purpose.”

Southern Baptists enlisted as workshop leaders include Elaine Helms, prayer director for the North American Mission Board and author of “Prayer 101” and “If My People … Pray,” along with Chris Schofield, director of prayer for evangelism and spiritual awakening for the North Carolina Baptist Convention.

Another workshop leader familiar to Southern Baptists is Elmer Towns, a popular author on the subject of prayer and a professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., who will teach on “Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough.”

The Church Prayer Leaders Network began in 1999 as the National Association of Local Church Prayer Leaders and in 2003 became a ministry of “Pray!” magazine, a bi-monthly publication of NavPress and The Navigators. In 2004, Graf left his magazine editorship to pursue a prayer ministry in the local churches. “Pray!” magazine then handed over CPLN to him, which he placed under the umbrella of Harvest Prayer Ministries, which “focuses solely on resourcing the prayer leaders in congregational ministry.”

Registration information is available at CPLN’s Web site,