Yvette and I knew that our journey to Pakistan would change our lives. We also anticipated a change in our relationship to God. We were entering an environment not conducive to Christianity, and in some places very dangerous to live. Prayer was always a principal in our relationship, but there it became critical to our survival. Over the years we carved out sacred places in our homes to meet with God. These were centers of peace, confidence and assurance of the presence of God. There was nothing special about the physical space, it was just a quiet place to remind ourselves of the omnipresence of God.
We were not alone in this practice. Early mornings before sunrise as we walked around campus, it was not unusual to see several women kneeling at the foot of a cross outside of the campus chapel to offer prayers for their family. We could not imagine the difficulties that drove them to these early morning meetings, but we were confident that their time in this place served as a staple for the survival and safety of their families.
In our lifetime, most of us will find ourselves in periods of desperation. Prayer is natural during those times. Our greatest struggles are persistence or maybe, as the book of James states: an “effective fervent prayer.” Our prayer life is driven by circumstances instead of a relationship with God. We get so easily distracted by all our commitments that prayer becomes only a breath to exhale in moments of convenience. “The effective fervent prayer that avails much” is a prayer of intention, not convenience. In our consistency we find wisdom and peace through our fellowship with the Lord.
As a Christ-centered community we hold to the importance of prayer as a community and the integration of Scripture into our work together. Some of our greatest challenges are finding time to pray together or individually throughout the day. Corrie ten Boom, a concentration camp survivor, asked a question we all should consider—“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” The honest answer is revealed in our practices.
We are embarking on a series of forums to think about envisioning the future, despite all the challenges of the past, present and future. We believe God has purpose for our community that none of us has yet to fully realize. We can be easily distracted from this purpose if our focus is only on the challenges. It is in prayer that our hearts are knitted together to realize our place in this God-given purpose, and the significance of our interdependence in realizing that role. Oswald Chambers assigned a truth to the importance of prayer that we should consider. He said that “prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
I would therefore invite our community to join me in persistent prayer for our envisioning the future, serving our students and engaging the cities throughout the Central Valley. Warkentin Prayer Chapel is one of those sacred places on campus. It symbolizes the importance of prayer in our journey together.
I invite you for the month of April, which starts with the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection, to stop by the Prayer Chapel before work or during your coffee breaks; before or after lunch, or near the end of the day. A consistent 10 or 15 minutes each day interceding for our students (future and present), your colleagues, our alumni and our friends will significantly impact the influence of the university throughout the region. Come join us in this privilege of prayer.