The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

February 20, 2012

Whole Country to Pray for Students

Tom Boyle

What does prayer look like on campus? Loud and boisterous, drawing attention to itself as it is spoken? Quiet and polite as it moves unseen amid the voices contending for attention? Somewhere in between, as students gather in small groups to lift their voices, seeking God’s favor? All of the above, perhaps?

There have been few times in InterVarsity’s past when concerted prayer for the campus was needed more. Hardly a week goes by that we are not challenged on yet another campus, our permission to gather as a group threatened by a campus administration listening to louder voices that we are discriminating against those who do not share our viewpoint. Will we see, as Dr. Mary Poplin asked at Staff Conference 2011, revival on the campus and the Jesus of power moving among our student groups?

We need to pray.

This Thursday, February 23, InterVarsity joins in celebrating a new affirmation of an old tradition – the national Collegiate Day of Prayer. For more than 150 years in the U.S., the fourth Thursday in February was an annual prayer day, a day when all the churches and Christian groups paused to pray very specifically for the campus – the students, the faculty, the institution, and even the culture.

The champions of prayer for the campus were the churches. Pastors and church denominational leaders were once students and knew how important it was to continue the tradition of prayer that sustains faith in the world of contending ideas. They knew their churches were reliant on a vibrant crop of new leaders that came only from the campus. Lose the campus, and you lose the future.

Yet  somehow, along the way, the campus was lost. It did not happen overnight, but by the mid 20th century, instead of the whole campus embracing the reality of the Gospel, only smaller segments shared the message of Jesus. There were new gods around who drew the crowds, new festivals that attracted the loyalty of students. The daily chapel experience fell into disuse. So, who is it that prays today? Is there a remnant that God can use?

Two years ago a small group of people wanted to reclaim the day. They knew we needed the Holy Spirit to break out as never before. We need the Jesus of power to come and join in our gatherings. We need hearts changed, not just minds challenged. We need prayer.

Why now?

Access on campus is threatened. In 1981, the Widmar case settled the issue in the Supreme Court for two generations. The vote was 9-0 that all public campuses must allow any student group to gather regardless of their beliefs.  Last year, the Martinez case in the Supreme Court went the other way by a narrow 5-4 margin. It was a clear indicator that the culture of the courts has changed in much the same way that the culture of the campus has changed. There was never a time in our past when prayer was more important for the campus as it is today.

As of today, there are 1,575 campuses covered in prayer and 751student groups planning to gather on their campus to pray – some for 24 hours. Is your campus with them? Is your church praying for a campus in your city or the campuses you send your students to?

At Urbana 09, Sunder Krishnan, a pastor from Toronto, electrified the audience with his talk on the importance of intercessory prayer. In a ringing voice, he closed, “The future belongs to the intercessors!”

God is waiting for us to join with him and claim this future. Check the Collegiate Day of Prayer website for more info and share this infographic on your Facebook page to spread the word. Pray with us on February 23 and lay claim to the campus for the Kingdom. 

Tom Boyle is the director of Staff Development and Training for InterVarsity.


Great article Tom!

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