May 1, 2014 was set aside as a National Day of Prayer. Many people throughout the country took time out to specifically pray for numerous personal, social, spiritual, and political issues on a local, regional, and global level. This day of prayer came right at the close of another scholastic year, and just two days before many of my fellow students received their various and well-earned degrees of higher learning. While many in our nation may question the merits of an actual day being set aside for prayer, I for one can fully appreciate it, and have come to value it greatly; both as a believer in Christ, and as a student living on campus here at Regent University.
As a transfer student who came here in the Fall 2013 semester from another school in Atlanta, Ga., my experience has been quite a shift from what I was accustomed to. It was amazing to me that I could be attending a secular school that was full of so many Christians, yet there was this overwhelming constraint for faculty and staff to be able to express anything regarding Christianity, even in a course on religion. Contrast that to my first moments here on campus, and everywhere you turn is an opportunity to be fully engaged in Christian faith.
Virtually every class that I’ve taken since being on campus has started in a prayer or devotion of some sort; some even have ended with prayer. The chapel services include prayer as well. I think the thing that amazed me the most was the occasional stops between classes by fellow students who would see me and stop to pray with or for me. This was quite refreshing and a great encouragement at times when I was facing some of my most stressful moments.
When I first arrived, I came on campus right at the ending weeks of that other school with my wife and three children–with only what we could carry in our car, and no prospects for work. Add to that stress a new course load that was heavier than what I had been used to and the closest family being five hours away, prayer became the only way that we made it through.
Prayer was a means of connecting to a new community of fellow believers in a place of unfamiliarity. It was the vehicle through which new bonds were being formed, and burdens were being shared, as well as lifted. If it had not been for the faithful prayers of those around me during those early weeks, it might have been even more trying to face the Spring of 2014 when my three-year-old son was facing a hernia surgery right at the same time that I was also facing midterm exams. There is no greater feeling than to know that even during a class, you can stop to pray for a fellow student who may be having a tough time or just needs a bit of encouragement. That happened a couple weeks ago when I joined some classmates in praying for someone preparing to raise money to support efforts in Ghana.
While there may be people around this country that scoff at the notion of why a country might set aside a day for prayer to be held, I for one will gladly join in, not just because of what I see and know it can do in my own life, but because I believe it is essential in building community and fellowship, and is an integral part of shaping the world in which we live.busy family, returning to school