It’s a cliche but it’s true, prayer changes things. Students involved in InterVarsity and other Christian groups on the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) campus spent 40 days praying in a 24/7 prayer room and have been awed by how they have seen God at work.
“The spiritual climate among Christians on campus is changing,” said Peter Horton, who serves as InterVarsity’s prayer coordinator for the Wisconsin/Upper Michigan division. “We saw more unity, intimacy with God, and gifts of the Spirit in evidence.”
UW students have had a prayer room before and at the beginning of the spring semester, Peter felt that it was time for another one. Speaking at a chapel service at InterVarsity’s National Service Center, Peter reported that he discovered that the leaders of other UW campus ministries had the same desire laid on their hearts.
Campus Christian Groups Work Together
“I went to Campus Crusade first, and I said, ‘Let’s do this for 40 days, and will you let me lead it?’” he recalled. “They said, ‘Sure you can lead it and here’s a staff person to work with you.’” Within two weeks a team of 20 students from various ministries was planning the prayer room.
Faith Community Bible Church (FCBC), located on the edge of campus, once again offered the use of its worship center to the students. FCBC’s sanctuary offers a scarce commodity on campus—quiet space. “The students were desperate for a place where they could go to be with God. This provided it for them,” Peter said.
Students Describe Results
Zach Stollfus, the president of the UW InterVarsity chapter, reported, “Christians from all over campus and the surrounding area showed up. Testimonies abound as to what God did in and through the prayer room in the lives of students, and even in local churches.”
“God has gotten me out of my box,” said Dean Chamberlain, another chapter leader. “I could really sense that God wanted to meet me there, one-on-one. God ended up speaking to me a lot about his plans for my life.”
Dean said that observing the impact of prayer and the prayer room on others was just as moving as his own experience. “With God and with his presence on campus, our campus can be renewed,” he said.
Freshman Steffie Redinger, who came to campus from a Messianic Jewish family, was excited about finding a prayer station in the prayer room focused on Israel and the Jewish people. “It was amazing the amount of people who said that they hadn’t even thought about the Jewish people being a group of people to be reaching out to on campus,” she said.
Prayer Encourages Evangelism
In addition to the growth in the spiritual lives of the participating students, the prayer room also stirred up among Christian students more outreach and evangelism. For the first time in five years, InterVarsity’s ministry to Greek students on campus had an evangelistic outreach and saw seven students decide to follow Christ. UW Campus Crusade students participated in a Florida beach evangelism project during the 40-day period, and attributed the unusually positive results to their preparation in prayer.
“Students are beginning to recognize they can’t achieve God’s purpose without God’s presence and God’s power with them,” Peter said. “Students encountered God. Many found new freedom to worship, a passion for God’s word, and zeal to hear it proclaimed. Prayer is having an impact.”
Peter Horton’s chapel talk is available on MP3 audio: Listen or download.
You can make a direct financial donation to support InterVarsity’s work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by following this link.