Monday, March 19, 2018

Pray the Change You Want to See

Back in the day when the picture at left was both current and accurate, God taught me some very important, practical, and paradigm-shifting things about prayer and “stepping up”.

Towards the end of my second year of Bible college, I found myself in multiple conversations with fellow students where the Question Of The Day could be summed up:
“Is it just me, or does the spiritual atmosphere in our college kinda, well... suck?”
It had been a very different year than my experience as a freshman the year before. The spiritual vibrancy we had enjoyed now appeared lacking, and there seemed to be some kind of spiritual malaise that was throwing a good chunk of the student body into a funk.

During one of those conversations, I was reminded (probably by the Holy Spirit) of the late-night prayer sessions that I’d seen happening in the college chapel every night around 11:00pm during my freshman year.
(All freshman were required to do “student service” to help defray the costs of the school, and I had been assigned the ‘night watchman’ role. Hence my noticing the late-night prayer time.)
“Does anyone remember that prayer meeting that used to meet in the chapel last year?” I asked my friends. “Is it still happening?”

Actually, we discovered — NO. The guys responsible had all graduated. As far as we could tell, student-initiated prayer had fallen by the wayside.

Hmm. Lack of prayer + a spiritual funk… It wasn’t hard to do the math. My illustrious roommate, Ritchard, and I decided that — even if nobody else joined us — our dorm room, at 11:00pm, would be devoted to a time of prayer.
And I dropped by the Dean’s office and asked if I could become an RA for the next college year — leading a weekly small group of my peers.
And all through my junior year at Bible college, intercessory prayer was a nightly occurrence in our dorm room. Sometimes, it was just Ritchard and I; other times, the room was jammed full of guys praying together for each other and for God to move in our school.

More than once, other students would drop by to ask us to pray for specific situations happening elsewhere in our dorm. As the year progressed, we learned that God had been speaking similar things to the rest of the student body, and there were actually numerous prayer groups meeting, late at night, in both the men’s and women’s dorms.

No-one was surprised at the change in the atmosphere in our college. The spiritual vibrancy was very noticeable, particularly in the areas of worship and community. There was a sense of expectation, and an awareness that God was doing something remarkable in our student body.

A popular slogan in recent years has been a quote from Ghandhi: “Be the change you want to see”. There’s a lot of truth in that saying; it’s why I became an RA at college, “stepping up” so I could be part of the solution.

But ultimately, we’re following a Savior who tells us:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
And if we’re wanting to have a spiritual impact, then we need to paraphrase the slogan slightly, and PRAY the change we want to see.

Because, as it turns out, the old saying is true: “Prayer changes things”. Starting with us.

“Stepping up” = Pray the change.

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