Over the past year, prayer rooms have popping up across university campuses and the response has been incredible. Ben is a chaplain at the University of Gloucestershire; here he shares this great story:
“Yet, we cannot put God in a box…”
To kick off 2017 we wanted to gather students to pray specifically for their university in a prayer room, so as a chaplaincy team we hosted 24 hours of prayer across 3 of our campuses. We already have devoted spaces for prayer and meditation, so we decorated them to make them ready.
It was the second time we hosted a 24-hour prayer event at the university and I had high hopes that students would create space in their diaries to get involved. We expected that a prayer room would engage Christian students, but I was challenged when not only did we have non-Christians attending, but also students and staff of other faiths wanting to take part too!
After the 24 hours of prayer were completed, one Christian student shared what they sensed God had been speaking to them about –
“God will continue to use us to help Him accomplish his aim of rebuilding the lives of those who don’t already know him.”
Now, as I reflect on our prayer event, I can see how God has been at work. As we created space for students to pray, we began to understand more of what God was doing; how he was moving in people’s lives, and the ways he introduced himself to people.
Prayer, to many, is part of their rhythm and belief system, but to others, it raises questions. In the past, I’ve unintentionally created barriers by talking with an irresponsible use of language – not contextualizing my words and not showing understanding of the cultures of others.
Often as Christians, we’re so stuck in our routines of what it means to do “mission” that we can actually block people from God. Yet, we cannot put God in a box, and I’m so thankful for the non-Christians and friends of other faiths who were aware of our prayer room.
There are so many ways for sharing faith – and I can see that dropping the barriers I unintentionally put in place is essential.
I have a desire for students to follow Jesus; creating a prayer room on campus has been one of the ways that we’ve begun to see this happen.
Driving to work one day, I felt God speaking to me about space for prayer being significant to what He was doing across the university. As I arrived in my office, a member of staff, who has no faith, handed me an old prayer stool and kneeler –a sign to me that God was confirming his word.
As we create a physical space for encountering God, my prayer is that it’s not only Christians that would inhabit that space. My prayer is that non-Christians would also feel welcome; and more; that they too would encounter the living God.