We all have great intentions when it comes to prayer.
“Sure! I would love to pray for you”, is a common enough slip of the tongue.
Is it a lack of faith, or a lack of time—both can be in short supply—that hinders us from fulfilling these well-meaning words? Or is it because we don’t know what to pray? Or how to pray?
How often do we sound like this humorous description when we ask God to “be with so-and-so in a special way”?
“How often have we prayed something like, ‘O Lord, be with cousin Billy now in a special way’? Have we stopped to consider what it is we’re requesting? Imagine that you are a parent who is preparing to leave your children with a babysitter. Would you dream of saying, ‘O Betsy, I ask you now that you would be with my children in a special way?’” – David Jeremiah
Something is amiss if our prayers end up sounding like this. We want to move past platitudes, good intentions and weak convictions.
Pray like Moses and Elijah
We want to pray well.
We want to pray like Elijah, who according to James is just like each of us and he, “prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years” (James 5:17).
Could we pray like Moses; arms lifted without relief until the battle is won? Or Abraham interceding for Sodom? Or the persistent widow, pleading with God to answer?
Pray for God to do crazy big things
We want to pray like the four University of Guelph alumni who in the fall of 1997 as second year students pledged to meet daily at 7:30am to pray for three things:
- to see campus revival,
- to send labourers to the nations,
- and for the persecuted church worldwide.
Sean Cullen, our P2C-Students National Director, was one of the original four. Those early mornings shaped Sean in profound ways. Sean shared with us that the original group was so serious about their commitment that they kept attendance (which Sean still has in his possession).
Soon that small group grew to 12, and in the years following Guelph began to see fruitfulness in raising up full-time Christian workers and students coming to faith.
Today University of Guelph students continue to meet daily for prayer, 17 years after the initial four began that 7:30am prayer circle.
In the last two years, 58 students have discovered Jesus and become his witnesses on campus. It is hard to say if this can be attributed to these years of prayer, but one thing has been consistent over the years; God changes the lives of those who pray and periods of significant growth always include faithful prayer.
We want to pray with faith that our God in heaven is powerful to move the affairs and hearts of men and women. We want our prayers to be effective, persistent and powerful. And we want our intentions to be more than well-meaning.
What about you? Do you need some prayer encouragement?
The work of prayer
When we look towards the great potential contained on campus, our thoughts about prayer churn all the stronger. Students who do not yet know Jesus, students who do, and the spiritual battle for the hearts of men and women weigh like humid air upon our ministry as we step onto campus.
As we move into a new season of campus ministry, will you let Andrew Murray’s words recalibrate your heart?
“Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God’s messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.” – Andrew Murray
Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given only to work. Our labour in fulfilling our vision to see every Canadian student engage with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ before they graduate must be a labour of prayer.
Because God is the one who changes lives.