Commitment to Prayer

March 5, 2007

The lives of early Christians were characterized by matchless generosity, reliance on God, and a profound devotion to prayer. In Acts 2:46-47, Luke records, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The Christian movement grew rapidly because of God’s response to the believers’ diligence, passion, and faithfulness in prayer. Jesus taught us in Luke 11:9-10 to “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” It is because Jesus told us that he will respond to our asking, seeking, and knocking, that prayer is one of InterVarsity’s core commitments. We believe that “we express our faith, love, and dependence on God through lives of prayer and worship.” On both the national and campus levels, InterVarsity demonstrates its enthusiasm for prayer.

At the University of Nevada–Reno (UNR), three InterVarsity staff workers began praying this past summer to open a prayer room on campus. Mac Smith, one of the campus staff, was inspired after reading Red Moon Rising, a book about praying consistently around the clock. He envisioned a room on campus where students and the Reno community could go to pray anytime they felt led. The two other staff, Spencer Sanders and Sarah Burke, quickly adopted Mac’s vision as well.

The team eagerly began searching for a place to establish a prayer room, but their excitement swiftly turned to disappointment when they saw door after door close. For a time they thought about converting an old shed into a usable room, but that idea fell flat when they discovered all the obstacles they’d have in trying to make it usable. Disheartened, the three staff workers considered giving up; they thought perhaps the prayer room would never get beyond the dream stage.

But then one day Mac got into a conversation with a landlord who owns a house near campus. Mac discovered that the man was a Christian, and after he shared his idea for the prayer room, the landlord decided to lower the rent of a room that could be used for prayer. Thrilled, Mac gave the news to Sarah and Spencer. The next day they and the rest of the chapter began to decorate the room with artwork, candles, twinkle lights, and couches. They also created places on the walls for people to post or write out prayer requests and praises.

To open the prayer room, the InterVarsity chapter decided to get other Christian groups on campus and churches from the area involved and committed to praying 24 hours a day for the entire month of October. InterVarsity students, along with others, quickly filled up the time slots.

During the month it became a haven for many people, a respite from the hectic life of a college student, and a peaceful place to commune with God. Jessica Vana, a woman from a local church, wrote to a student about the prayer room, “I really felt the Holy Spirit in the room with me, leading and guiding me in prayer.…I believe that God is going to do amazing things through this time of focused prayer.”

The month of 24 hour prayer has been over for a while, but the community has continued the fervor for prayer that sustained them during that time. Students are excited about the ways God is moving on campus and in their lives. One InterVarsity member, Chantal, had been praying for her sister to be open to considering Jesus. After a series of times in the prayer room, Chantal invited her sister to hear about Jesus. Her sister was receptive! Answers to prayers like Chantal’s bolster students to continue praying and convince them of the power of prayer.

Prayer played a vital role in the preparation and completion of InterVarsity’s Urbana 06 Student Missions convention. Not only were staff praying for months in advance, but they have encouraged the students who came to prepare themselves through prayer. The convention featured prayer during every general session; there were prayer seminars throughout each day, and a group of volunteers was praying 24 hours a day every day of the convention.

The significance and importance of prayer has not diminished since the beginning of Christianity. Following the example of the early Christian church, InterVarsity is committed to prayer because we want to see students transformed and campuses renewed. It is through prayer that we see God’s purposes in the world and on college campuses accomplished.