Some stop, but most just walk past the group of people praying every weekday in the TI Plaza at the University of Texas at Dallas. Campus Renewal and five other ministries at UTD pray together in public every Monday through Friday for each other, for their campus ministries, and for the campus.
Charlie Holman and Justin Tang are Campus Renewal staff members at UTD who wanted to give students an opportunity to pray together at least once a week.
“I hope to provide an opportunity for students and any other Christians on campus to attend a weekly prayer time,” Holman said. “That’s part of the vision we have as Campus Renewal — every Christian engaged in a weekly corporate, united, prayer time.”
The group starts each prayer hour with the doxology then transitions into prayer using Campus Renewal’s weekly prayer guide. They praise God for who he is, for the students on campus that will meet Jesus, and for the students at the meeting. Occasionally they break from praying and reach out to students passing by, asking if they can pray for them and sharing the Gospel with them.
The daily prayer time is held in the open in the plaza so that Christians who pass by will see and be encouraged to join. They also want non-Christians to see that the campus is being prayed over.
“We used to meet in a secluded area in a building, and people walking by generally didn’t know we were there, Christian or non-Christian,” Holman said. “It doesn’t promote as strong of a message to the campus that Christians are united in prayer. It doesn’t provide as much opportunity for people walking by to jump in or to be prayed for.”
Holman said that praying in public allows them to minister to students like Faraz, a Muslim who passes by at the same time every Monday and Wednesday. Faraz normally stops and asks how the group is doing, and Holman and Tang ask how they can pray for him.
Formerly held weekly, the prayer meetings became a daily occurrence when students’ schedules shifted each semester. Students, like senior Eric Dilmore, would meet every Monday afternoon, but numbers dissolved every time a new semester stared.
“The reason that we have [the prayer gathering] every day is because we know students are busy,” Dilmore said. “Most of the people coming have crazy and weird schedules. If we have it every day, people can come at least once every week so we leave it open to whoever can come by.”
Holman also acknowledged that it was difficult to find a day and time that worked for everyone to be able to attend. Providing a prayer time everyday has now resulted in more people attending and more long-term involvement.
When the prayer meetings first began, only about fifteen students would attend throughout the week, and Holman and Tang would lead each meeting. Now, attendance has grown to thirty students throughout the week, and more responsibility has transitioned to student leaders.
Besides the numbers, Dilmore has seen how the prayer meetings have effected the campus as it is now covered in powerful prayer every day.
“If we’re not seeking God’s will in all that we do; in evangelism that we do, in the unity that we strive to have with other believers, in everyday living, then it’s really hard for us to see God at work. But if we are constantly in prayer for the things God has called us to pray for, for the promises he has given us in the Bible, for people to just come to know Jesus, then we will see God at work. We know that God’s will is always being enacted and through prayer, we get to participate in God’s movements here on campus. Coming together for prayer unites us with one goal and one mission.”
Janelle is a junior Journalism major at The University of Texas at Austin. After college, she hopes to become a foreign correspondent to continue sharing people’s stories. Janelle is involved with the Baptist Student Ministry, Austin Stone Community Church, and is a Campus Renewal Media intern.