Do you pray for your campus? I’ll bet many of you do. Prayer meetings have been a hallmark of InterVarsity chapters from the earliest days (that would be the 1940s!) and some fellowships still hold daily prayer meetings like those “ancients”. But when you pray for your campus, what do you ask for? I’m sure you pray that many students would turn to God and embrace his love. Naturally, you pray for friends who are going through rough times. Perhaps you pray for things like more racial harmony or less alcohol abuse. Maybe you even pray for your football team to win. These are good things to pray for—okay, maybe not for the sports team, but allow me to add to the ways you could intercede for your school.
Two scriptures might spur your prayers in fresh directions. The first records what God said through Jeremiah to the exiled Jews in Babylon: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters…multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
What would the welfare of your college look like? What would allow all the people associated with your campus to flourish—undergrads, grad students, professors, administrators, researchers, support staff, custodial workers, even the town folks who live nearby or do business with the campus. What would shalom look like—that deep experience of justice, peace, joy and well-being that God wills for all people? What about your school is “not the way it is supposed to be”? What might God want to see changed? How might what happens on your campus bring benefit to the wider society and culture?
Praying along such lines will open your mind and heart to the wider purposes of God on campus. Maybe you will pray for international students who are lonely, new faculty who are a bit overwhelmed or faculty advisors who have grown complacent. Maybe you will ask wisdom for the president in her demanding role, breakthroughs for researchers in their labs or major gifts in response to requests by development officers. Maybe you will hold before God those helping students in the counseling office, the writing lab or the health center. Maybe you will pray for greater openness to spiritual truth, deeper reflection on ethical questions or more civility in political debate. Seek the welfare of your campus, for there you will find your welfare!
The other scripture is simply the prayer that Jesus taught: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13). What a powerful pattern: gratitude for God’s love, awe at his holiness, allegiance to his authority, dependence on his grace in body, soul and circumstance.
But I am especially struck by the implications of praying “let your kingdom come on this campus as it is in heaven”. What a bold, radical request! Unpack this before God, week by week, and you will be joining him more deeply in his redemptive work on your campus.