‘A God-Orchestrated Time’ for National Collegiate Day of Prayer
Billy Graham maintained a profound passion for youth throughout his ministry, recognizing that they are the future leaders of the church with tremendous capacity to contribute to the Kingdom of God. As a result of working with young people from all over the world, he made the observation that they want “something to really believe in. Something that’s intellectually logical and something that will satisfy their hearts and give them an experience … a spiritual experience.” The explanation in his mind was simple, “…If you come to Jesus Christ you’ve found it.”
American youth have a unique responsibility to influence future generations, but it starts with who their current influences are. Graham was right that people are on the hunt for a spiritual experience, but according to director of Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council (FRC) David Closson, there is an underlying issue: this generation is not being exposed to and influenced by biblical principles. “According to a 2022 poll from George Barna, only 2% of parents with preteens have a biblical worldview.” He warned of a “bleak future for the Christian values” more unless parents “take their responsibilities of discipleship and education seriously.”
Recent headlines speak for themselves when it comes to what young people are immersed in. Social issues like child mutilation and sky-rocketing abortion rates are not only being encouraged but becoming normalized. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Up to 44% of college students reported having symptoms of depression and anxiety.” With such harrowing issues penetrating society, biblical truth is needed more now than ever.
While this generation is searching for deeper satisfaction outside of faith, God is on the move and is calling people to himself. A prime example is the recent events at Asbury University, where students have now gathered for over two weeks in constant worship and prayer. As crowds of people have traveled from all over the country to participate, it just so happened that the National Collegiate Day of Prayer (CDOP) coincided with the active revival happening on Asbury’s campus.
“The Collegiate Day of Prayer team requested of Asbury a year ago if they could come [on campus] on February 23, 2023, for the 200th day of collegiate day of prayer,” FRC’s National Prayer Director Dr. Jay Johnston told Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch.” The fact that Asbury planned to host the CDOP before the spontaneous revival even began is a testament to active presence of Christ amidst our nation. “This is a God-orchestrated time for them," he said.
Due to the spontaneity of Asbury’s non-ending chapel service, “the Collegiate Day of Prayer team has really had to make an adjustment from what their program was to what God is doing and joining in that work here at Asbury,” Johnston explained. The event was livestreamed for people across the nation to participate.
“Ultimately, prayer is a gift, a discipline, and an exercise of honesty,” said spring 2023 FRC intern, Hannah Hair. CDOP allows students, faculty, and anyone else with the slightest interest to do just that.
The history of CDOP dates as early as the 1700s. Although the “first reports of these student revivals emerged during the First Great Awakening in the eighteenth century,” it was the “Second Great Awakening (1790-1845) that produced our most powerful student revivals and the prayer movement that sustained them.” The year 1815 marked the first official Concert of Prayer for Colleges, which “had become a regular feature on the New England campuses of Yale, Williams, Brown and Middlebury.”
In his Handbook of Revivals, Henri C. Fish wrote, “In the year 1823, the last Thursday of February each year was agreed upon as the day for special supplication that God would pour from on high His Spirit upon our Colleges and Seminaries,” officially setting aside a day dedicated to praying for collegiate entities.
“There is power of prayer in numbers,” said Hair. “If nothing else, it is a reaffirmation of your collective chief end, which is God.”
Similar to Graham’s observation, Perkins also alluded to “a hunger” throughout our nation. “People are traveling across the country to get to Asbury,” he said, and 2022 Olivet Nazarene graduate Kimberlynn Maxon fits this description. This week, she took a road trip to Asbury University to witness — and then experience — God’s presence with other students. “[God’s] grace is the same in the ordinary moments as in the extraordinary ones.” Her experience worshipping among likeminded believers was an encouragement to her in her faith, as “there are so many other people pursuing Christ with the same fervency.”
The CDOP provides students across the country with the opportunity to communally participate in praying, repenting, and worshipping the Lord. Asbury’s movement is a tribute to the active presence of our God and the hope we are presented in John 8:2, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”