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Could the words, “college student” and “prayer time” go in the same sentence? part 1


April 2, 2016
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I recently tweeted a picture with the caption: “College students went to their knees on this rocky ground asking God to revive them!”

I got some shocked “favorites” as if to say “I didn’t think college students knew there was a 6:30 AM!”

For most students, it’s true: they’ve come to college to do all kinds of things…and prayer isn’t one of them. Why? Maybe because most prayer meetings they observed were passionless, pointless—or both.

But contrast that with the famous Asbury revival prayer times:

When a young woman heard a lecture mention a revival, she was stirred to believe God could work another. She, along with a small group, decided to get up half an hour early every day, pray and read the Bible, write down what the Holy Spirit told them to do, then do what they had been instructed. They agreed to do this for the thirty days of November, meeting together once a week. Each time the meeting ended, they asked each other: “Do you think He will come today?” Their faith was insane! On February 2, 1970, they met for prayer again. At about 2:30am on the 3rd, God spoke: “I’m coming today.”

The rest is history. This is an invitation to this generation saying that He wants to do the same thing on their campus.

STOP believing the lie that college students don’t want to get up early and pray. 

To be honest, I feel like our church does this well and horribly, all at the same time. Sometimes it’s beautiful. College students passionately worshiping, calling out for their friends to be saved. People lie on their faces repenting of their sin and asking God to sweep across our campus and city. Other times, I think, “This is so lame. I gotta admit, I wouldn’t come to this if I wasn’t the college pastor.”

Several years ago, I was in line at a restaurant and struck up a conversation with an older gentleman. I told him I was on staff at Antioch Community Church, then he gave one of the greatest encouragements I have ever heard.

“Oh I know you guys from Antioch. I’ve met some of your people all over the world. I always know when I’ve met an Antioch person, because they are the first to pray at any worship gathering. They all seem to know how to lead a prayer meeting. You can’t say that about many Christians.”

I was undone. All I could think about was how many boring prayer times we had on a weekly basis. But God was doing something much deeper. Yes, he was answering our EMP (Early Morning Prayer) prayer requests, but more than anything he was molding this young generation. He was turning them into people who thrive on intimacy with God and partnership with His Holy Spirit. So we keep plugging away, believing 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still true today:

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I’m convinced the Asbury students weren’t clamoring to get to a prayer meeting just because that’s what Christians do. They wanted God and they wanted Him to move! They longed for Him to come and heal the broken places in their lives and all the people on campus.

There is a core of your students who will latch onto that vision if you’re willing to make it passionate, consistent and purposeful! So, don’t believe the lie that, “college students don’t want to get up early and pray,” connect them to a vision for revival. Then set up a prayer time….

…and watch out.

(To learn what NOT to do in a prayer time for college students, be watching for Part 2!)

  • Stephen N. Mbogo

    Thanks Carl for this very encouraging article on EMO. A friend discipled me in my high school years when I became a believer on early morning prayers. it was laborious, but i gradually got to know the Lord’s presence and to enjoy and delight in it. In college I and a band of friends covenanted to be doing prayer as part of our semester course work i.e. daily and our lives and campus life was never the same. May the Lord raise a generation of students committed to prayer and a heart for those of us in the next generation the passion and dedication to labor (i.e. incubate full course) through into seeing this happen in our campuses. Stephen Mbogo – African Enterprise – mission agency serving across Africa.