My Dear Carolyn,
I felt very honored and grateful to be asked how to go about praying for “barren” campuses, along with a few staff as well as the local students. Thank you for giving me some extra time to consult with some of the members of the prayer core. The folks contributing to this response are Lorita Boyle, Connie Anderson, Steve Luten, Paul Hughes, Jacci Turner, Jason Jensen, Laura Thiel and myself.
Connie Anderson told several of us this past week-end how God turned things around at a college (Whitman) which is very similar to the one which you mentioned. I asked her to send you her testimony in written form. She will detail the strategies God gave them to help turn that barren campus into a place of on-going fruitfulness.
Below you will find the “first fruits” of our corporate responses to your excellent questions. May God Himself guide you into His plans and strategies as you and your team visit fellowships in an effort to strengthen their impact on spiritually toxic campuses.
A sense of call: In my own journey of prayer and intercession for others, it helps me immensely to have a clear sense that God is calling me to get involved. I loved the fact that a response welled up inside your own heart when the staff asked you to go their campus and pray. It seemed to me to indicate that God is truly calling you forward and I know that He will guide you clearly as you seek Him and follow His instructions.
Your team: In the same way, it would seem important to me to ask God to give you each member of the team that you will be taking. It would be helpful if one of them was a person from the area or campus you are visiting, so that he or she can give you some sense of history and of the condition of the city, college, staff and students. It would be helpful if another was an intercessor with gifts of discernment and/or revelation, etc. Obviously you need to really know and trust the members of your team.
Prayer, fasting and scripture: As you prepare for this ministry, ask God how He would have you prepare for it. He may lead you into special times of prayer and of seeking His face. He may lead you to fast, to ask your prayer partners to pray for you etc. Ask Him to give you the critical scriptures He has for you, for your team, for the campus and for this process. Keep track of the scriptures He gives you. Ask the local staff if they have received clear words from God about their campus. Note those as well. Watch out for a few verses that will really stand out to your heart and soul. These may be the declarations of what God really wants to do on this campus. These may be verses that you and your team (and later the students) are to faithfully read and pray over the campus until God intervenes. (See this process in Psalm 149)
Put on the full armor of God each day (however you do that) and spend time researching the situation (see below) and praying for the campus, the staff and the students alone and with your team. Ask God what it is He wants to do on that campus and how He wants you to be involved.
- Several of us felt it would be important to know if there was a Godly heritage from the past in this college that could be drawn upon.
- On this point, Paul Hughes writes: I think it is always important, if the institution has a Christian heritage, to be educated on the hopes and prayers of the founders and original purpose statement. When we agree with the historic prayers and mission statements of earlier generations we have a synergy between the generations that is very powerful before the Lord.
- Perhaps there are literal cornerstones, or symbols on the campus that represents a well God still desires to re-dig, even as Isaac re-opened the wells his father Abraham had dug that had been stopped up by the Philistines. In Gen. 26:18-25, when Isaac re dug the wells, God came to him and renewed the covenant. Reconnecting with our God-ordained past is a part of empowering us for our God ordained future.
- This concept is well laid out in the excellent book by Dutch Sheets and my friend Will Ford, called, "History Makers - How Our Prayers Have the Power to Heal our Past and Shape Our Future". This book is one I highly recommend as it gives many Biblical insights for those desiring to grow in strategic intercession.
- What is the current condition of the student group and the staff:
- Do you know anything about the student group itself: Their history? The state of their student and staff leadership? Their relationships with one another? Their individual and corporate walks with God? Their prayer lives as individuals and as a chapter? The things they have tried in order to grow, to reach out or to pray for their campus? How deeply and effectively do they study the scripture and how fully do they obey it? Do they have students coming that they feel “uneasy about?” People who could be “plants” and are actually there to “curse them?”
- Again, Paul Hughes writes: We also ought to allow for non-condemning self assessment to go on. Is there purity among the leaders? Or is there prayerlessness or pride or immorality? Grieving the Spirit will take the wind right out of the sails. Unlike Samson, we do not want to not even be aware that the Spirit of God has departed because of unconfessed sin in the chapter, especially where leaders are concerned. The visiting staff need to be sensitive to this. Is a call for repentance needed?
- Campus strongholds, statements and sin: In the same way, there may be campus sins and spiritual strong-holds that need to be repented of. What do you know about the campus?
- The local churches: All of us agreed that one of the research items that would be especially helpful for you and this campus is for you and/or the local staff and/or leadership team to make contact with each of the local churches surrounding the university, looking for those who would really partner with you in praying for the campus. Connie Anderson was able to find a faithful, wise, powerful group of Charismatic Episcopal intercessors who really took on the spiritual warfare for Whitman college and she felt that that was one of the key factors in the turn around.
- Paul Hughes also encouraged you to seek the support Alums. He writes: I would really encourage building a prayer network with alumni, local churches and others who have a heart for that campus. In our internet savvy culture, someone easily create a website that could allow for prayer warriors to sign up to cover the campus for a period of time.
You are an excellent staff person and know better than I do the importance of building relationships with the staff and students. Once you know the condition of the chapter, and you have some warm relationships with the staff and students, you will see better what needs to be done to prepare the staff and students for this endeavor
- You and your team may have to do some quiet pre-prayer walks on site (as Nehemiah did) to assess the situation and soften the ground
- You and/or the staff may have to lead a spiritual formation retreat to nurture the students, or to guide them in the kind of honest assessment that Paul mentioned
- You and your team and the staff may need to hear from the students what they feel about their campus and then cast vision from the scripture.
- When you feel ready you could try some of the strategies mentioned below
SOME POTENTIAL PRAYER STRATEGIES
- Worship the Lord on Campus: Heart-felt worship is one of the best ways to seek God’s face for a campus. It is essential that a times of cleansing and preparation would precede such worship, so that it might be pleasing to Him. The Bethany Model of “Ministering unto Jesus” is a great model for this.
- Prayer walking
- Paul Hughes writes: I am a believer in Prayer Walking as a strategy for discerning the spiritual landscape. If the staff and students do this together, it can not only equip them in how to better perceive the campus, but those prayers prayed will have an impact. One prayer walk is a beginning. I believe in repeated prayer walks over the course of a year. I like Vicky Porterfield's easy to remember guide for prayer walks. It makes introducing new people to prayer walking feel more at ease.
- Be near to be clear.
- Pray on site with insight.
- Be on the scene without making one.
I have added my own to this list: Pray on time in real time. Prayer walks allow us to speak the blessing and will of God over a certain geography, but there is also a time dimension to the exercise as well. We may actually observe things happening around us as we pray and walk that are clues from heaven that can guide intercession and discern mission strategy.
- Read scripture over the Campus - “Execute the written sentence” (Ps 149:9) Here is where you would read and pray the scriptures that God has give you and your team and/or the staff over the campus
- Have a “new eyes prayer meeting”
Jacci Turner writes these lovely words: At two campuses I visited this week, the staff are having "new eyes" prayer meetings each week. The staff all agree to come and any students that come. They pray to see the campus with new eyes!
Remember Yu-Shaun at Mills (A resistant liberal arts school)? She has seen amazing fruit from the prayer they have done there! She received prayer ministry at the prayer core meeting. Then had a special time for others to join her and pray over the campus. She and the students do weekly prayer walks and recently she had a 24 hours prayer coverage of Mill. God has broken down the walls there! The "spiritual leader" of the school who was so anti-IV left! God brought many IV friendly new staff and finally, students are starting to come to Jesus! Yu-Shaun and Hallie Cowen are good resources for working at small resistant colleges! Amen!
- Have a “Prayer Summit” or a 24 hour Prayer session ---(with an eye to making it 24/7)
Paul Hughes writes: Better yet, gain a vision for a Prayer Room on campus or near campus that can host a season of 24 hour prayer. There is no better resource than the 24-7 Prayer Manual which can be ordered from www.24-7Prayer-USA.com. Books like "Red Moon Rising" are inspiring many to help their campus group or church start a Prayer Room that releases unbroken intercession. Who can say how, but prayer changes the spiritual climate of a place as nothing else does. With much prayer, the same conversation about Christ one month that had little effect, is now having an impact. Conviction flows out of the intimate places of one heart and prayer is what connects our hearts to God's Presence and love.
If a 24 hour Prayer Room strategy is used, consider scheduling it strategically so that it fuels the campus mission or outreach in some way. Prayer rooms like this also build unity among different campus groups. Unity among believers is a clear precondition for having a more effective ministry in the name of Jesus anywhere.
- Have an off-site group of people praying for you while you are ministering on campus
It’s really late, so I will close for now. This comes with so much love in Him. May God guide you and bless you richly on this wonderful endeavor.
Mary Anne for the team
Mary Anne Voelkel
Spiritual Formation and Prayer
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
"...God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things and at all times, having all you need,
you will abound in every good work." (II Cor 9:8)
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