If you’ve studied the history of revivals for any length of time, at some point you should arrive at an interesting fact: many of them were birthed through students on college campuses! I suppose that fact shouldn’t be too surprising considering a majority of all US colleges were founded by Christians or churches, but as a college campus campus minister, I find this highly significant because it says one thing to me:
College campuses and prayer go together. Always.
A History of Prayer
The Second Great Awakening, while already famous for being one of the largest revivals in the history of this nation, also incidentally produced the most powerful student revivals and the prayer movement that sustained them.
What was particularly unique about this period of revival was the focus they had on college campuses. So much so, that in 1823, it was agreed upon that the last Thursday of February would be set again annual to specifically pray for college campus and students. This soon became known as the Collegiate Day of Prayer, and lasted well over a hundred years!
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
Sadly, somewhere along the line, even after a hundred years of this great spiritual tradition, the Collegiate Day of Prayer died out. No one knows the exact reason, maybe people got busy, or too caught up arguing about denominational differences, but the CDOP stopped. Now we live in an age where a majority of college students scoff at the idea of God, prayer and Christianity, and it’s quite startling to see how much the spirituality of college students has declined.
One lady, who was witness to these historic events says “It is due almost entirely to the fact that we no longer observe the Day of Prayer for Colleges as we used to do. There used to be long seasons of prayer in the college chapel and all-day meetings for fasting and prayer in almost all the churches. We asked God to raise up ministers and missionaries among the students and He did it…‘Ye have not because ye ask not.'”
So what do we do then?
Reviving the Past
For the past 4 years, Campus Renewal Ministries has been in partnership with 19 other national ministries an in effort to reestablish the Collegiate Day of Prayer. The fact remains that even if prayer ceases for a moment, it can always be revived again. All it takes are willing participants, people like you and me.
Here at The University of Texas, we’ll be spending the day in fasting, a morning and afternoon prayer and worship time, an evening prayerwalk around the campus, inviting professionals from the city to come chat with and pray with students, and ending the night with more worship.
The point is, praying for your local campus is important. A lot of people are very good about talking about all the bad things that are going on and what needs to be changed, but the reality is if we want to actually SEE change, then we must be willing to BE the change, and that begins with prayer.
So this Thursday, as we once again celebrate this annual tradition of seeking God for our campuses, I invite you to join with us wherever you’re at. Even if you can’t physically be on a college campus, take some time out to pray! Better yet, sign up online and get some people to pray with God, and believe God to move.
Tomorrow’s leaders are on today’s campuses, and we can play a part in shaping their future, if only we will pray.
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org