James Robison Talks With Jimmy Draper: A Prayer Meeting That Helped Save Freedom
Robison: Jimmy, as a pastor, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and head of Lifeway Christian Resources for 15 years, would you comment on what you see in our nation today and share suggestions for the church on how we should respond?
Draper: These are probably the darkest days I’ve seen. With political correctness and the push to redefine and dismantle marriage, we’re just a step away from it being illegal to preach the gospel. Pastors could be arrested for teaching the Bible. I really believe that if America doesn’t turn back to God, we may never recover.
Robison: I know you and I rejoiced when America reached the point that the nation could be glad to have an African-American minority president, and we all hoped for the best. My opinion, however, is that racial tension has increased, national security has diminished, and the economy is stymied by unbearable foolish debt.
Draper: I had hoped that having a black president would help bring reconciliation, but we have more racial tension, animosity and hostility than we had eight years ago. It has worsened under his leadership, and though he claims to be a Christian, his indifference toward Christianity and defense and support of Islam is obvious.
I think he’s done exactly what he set out to do, which was to change America completely, remaking the nation into whatever he envisions. This includes a lot of socialist tendencies as well as indifference toward Christian faith.
“Everything was absolutely solemn. We all realized unless God did something, there was nothing we could do.” Jimmy Draper
Robison: Recently, I interviewed one of Reagan’s best friends, Jerry Naylor, who was his national director of events. I will share that interview on The Stream on Monday. Naylor said the 1980 National Affairs Briefing at Reunion Arena was electric with the Spirit of God, and he watched up close the personal change in Ronald Reagan after that amazing meeting. He said Reagan immediately began to move up in the polls, and the financial support that came in was miraculous. The momentum swing started after that prayer meeting where people began talking about principles that really mattered. Remember, Reagan said, “I know you can’t endorse me because this is a bipartisan event, but I only say that to say — I endorse you!”
Do you agree the power of God was there and that what you watched was the kind of move of God we need today?
Draper: Absolutely, I was there and it was electric! No question the momentum shifted after that briefing.
“I heard very clearly that freedom was at stake and we could lose it.” James Robison
Robison: You and I were blessed to participate in the prayer meeting that led to the National Affairs Briefing. Billy Graham said, “We need to call a prayer meeting,” and they asked me to invite Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley. There were nine people who were invited and attended. What things stand out in your mind when you think about that prayer meeting?
Draper: I was there because you invited me and Billy agreed to it. I remember an entire floor of the hotel was blocked off. I had known Billy since I was a teenager and had been on his executive committee for a crusade, and I had known Bill Bright since he was in Dallas. He asked me to bring a devotional. It was from Hebrews 11.
Robison: We met in the Airport Marina Hotel DFW. It is now the DFW Airport Hyatt. Billy blocked off the floor because he thought we needed to be together in the presence of the Lord.
Draper: I remember how serious we were. Everything was absolutely solemn. We all realized unless God did something, there was nothing we could do. I remember an overwhelming sense of our need for God and our heartbrokenness for the country.
Robison: I heard very clearly that freedom was at stake and we could lose it. It was serious.
Draper: That was the overriding sense we all had in that room. When Billy said we will lose freedom in three years without strong, principled leadership, it was startling. We thought, Is that possible? It was the thing that hung heavily over all of us.
“The difference now is we don’t have a Ronald Reagan. Christians really need to pray for God’s leadership.” Jimmy Draper
Robison: Do you remember after praying that Adrian and Charles had such a strong sense that they had to take a stand, even though it would involve political action to get strong principled leadership, and someone who could communicate with the American people those principles? Billy raised the question, “Could Ronald Reagan provide principled leadership based on some of the speeches he had made going all the way back to the 1960s?” He had made a great speech in 1976. We discussed that and prayed about it. You heard the concern and bold conviction to take a stand that came from your Southern Baptist brothers. How do you remember that?
Draper: Adrian was always kind of like E.F. Hutton. When he spoke, we listened. I had the privilege of meeting with Reagan and six others including James Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy asked Reagan three questions. First, “Do you have assurance you will go to heaven?” and he said, “Yes!” Second, “If God asked, ‘Why should I let you in heaven?’” Reagan said, “Well, I never thought of it like that.” He rubbed his chin and thought for a minute and said, “I guess I would say — because I pray to your Son Jesus Christ every day.” I never questioned from that day on, and I was a Reagan fan because I felt like here was a man who obviously was not as well versed biblically as all of us, but who had a sincere heart before God. I think we all felt that way. I was all in for Ronald Reagan. The difference now is we don’t have a Ronald Reagan. Christians really need to pray for God’s leadership.
Robison: Do you remember Pat Robertson asked if Bill Bright and I would join with John Gimenez as tri-chairmen for a prayer gathering called “Washington for Jesus” on the Mall in Washington, D.C.? He wanted mainline denominations like Southern Baptists to join with Pentecostals and Charismatics to pray. Bill and I responded, “Yes, if you, Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley would also participate and speak.”
“The only church that will be relevant is the church that is submitted to the headship of Christ and connected to other born-again believers.” James Robison
Draper: Yes, I remember it well and I even hosted a planning meeting at First Baptist Euless [Texas]. It was a great success. We know at this time we are going to have to see our nation’s political leaders come to the table of reason and seek wisdom. To encourage this, I deeply believe Christians are going to have to come together. I’m not talking about agreeing on every theological point. If we believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we must stand together in these challenging times.
Robison: I think I’m seeing some positive signs with the church wanting to stand together. Do you agree?
Draper: I do! I think the emergence of the more contemporary churches, independent community churches and the more open, new generation of Southern Baptists — this new generation is fabulous! They are passionate, smart, intelligent, articulate and unafraid to “charge hell with a water pistol,” as we used to say. I am for this younger generation. The thing that I fear for them is that they will not allow those of us who have been this way before to at least be able to help them in the process without being arbitrary.
“I feel like the desperation today is good. God always meets desperation. I pray we will get desperate enough to see God move.” Jimmy Draper
Robison: I totally agree. I am anxious to encourage these future church leaders so that together we “rise and shine with the glory of the Lord upon us!” We know Jesus is coming back for a church adorned in His glory. He will come for a bride that looks like Him. If the church is going to be relevant, it has to be walking in the power of God’s Spirit, which He sent to live in us in order for the whole world to see Him lifted up. That’s what you and I want. That’s what we wanted in the prayer meeting. I think much of the church wants it today. The only church that will be relevant is the church that is submitted to the headship of Christ and connected to other born-again believers who understand why we’ve been left here. If His church will stand in supernatural unity, I believe we will see the spiritual awakening we desperately need.
Draper: I pray so.
Robison: You were elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1982 and then you were the head of the Sunday School Board, which became Lifeway, for 15 years. Would you say one of your main roles was to stir up the church?
Draper: Yes, I spent the majority of my time meeting face to face with pastors. I feel like the desperation today is good. God always meets desperation. I pray we will get desperate enough to see God move.
Robison: God said to rend your hearts, not your garments. Don’t just go through the motions. And if you do, I’ll make up for the years the locusts have eaten, and I’ll pour out the former and the latter rains. I know that’s what our hearts long for.
Draper: I wrote a book last year called Don’t Quit Before You Finish, dealing with the call to ministry, servant leadership and remembering it’s God’s ministry. We’ve sold over 18,000 copies. It’s a practical book based on scriptural teaching. I meet once or twice a week with young pastors to encourage them.
Robison: Thank you for your leadership and spending this time with me. We have the same heart for God to reveal Himself, and for Jesus to be lifted up so high people can’t miss Him.