It was 2:15am, and my samsung phone alarm sounded as I awoke from 4 hours of sleep. I got up, put on my Florida State University sweatshirt and thought, “What a great day to go run and hike on the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.” This would be a day of challenge for 37 runners who embraced the goal of finishing 72 miles in 24 hours.
One of the reasons for this AT Prayer Run was to raise finances for the Campus House of Prayer at the University of Tennessee, but the reasons went much deeper than merely raising finances. It was an opportunity to glorify God in the weakness that one’s body endures when running and hiking in the mountains. It was about friendship and connections made with those who accepted the challenge to serve God by partaking in this great cause.
Keeping the doors of the Campus House of Prayer open was not only about praying on this day but also about running. This prayer run consisted of 6 legs with some very experienced runners and some not so experienced runners like myself. Let me explain some of the logistics and challenges of this AT Prayer Run. The first group would meet at “Fontana Dam” and run 16.8 miles from 8pm to 1am. The second group would meet at “Spence Field” and run for 16.3 miles from 1am to 6am.
Ryan McPherson who is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) Fraternity and The Cross at the University of Tennessee came to realize while running that morning this was beyond what he could handle but it was a great test, and one he faced with 5 of his fraternity brothers. Ryan McPherson along with his Pike brothers in my book are warriors and much appreciated.
When our team of 16 running leg 3 arrived at “Clingman’s Dome Tower” at 5:30am were all set and ready to start our part of the run. The goal was to leave by 6am and finish our leg at 9am and pass the baton onto the next team. It is amazing how life throws you curve balls and you just have to go with the flow. We stood outside for 2 and half hours in 35 degree temperatures which was much colder thanks to the wind blowing in the mountains.
It was such a great test for each person on our team as many were dressed in t-shirts and shorts, huddled up trying to keep warm. We had a motivational speech, laughter, jokes, story telling, and the most beautiful view of the stars. It was a moment in time we will not forget.
24/7 Prayer Movement
Each person running each leg came up against walls and obstacles during the prayer run. The normal reaction is to quit the challenge and not face the barrier. The mind and emotions are in constant battle and deep down each person has to choose whether or not they want to quit the race. We face these same hurdles in prayer and within the prayer movement of 24/7 prayer. The thoughts that become obstacles which attack our minds can paralyze us from choosing to face the spiritual walls in our lives. Thoughts like I don’t know how to pray. I can’t pray that long. I’m bored.
It takes a team effort from the Body of Christ and support from the Holy Spirit to take hold of this vision of 24/7 prayer happening on your college campus. It took 37 individuals who worked together to finish a 72 mile prayer run on the Appalachian Mountains within 24 hours. It begins with each person standing in the gap and committing to 1 hour a week. It will take a united body of Christ by the Holy Spirit to see 168 hours every week of non-stop prayer happen on your college campus.