by Kara Kistner on May 19, 2014 in collegiate ministry
Morgan Wallace, sophomore at University of North Texas, was sitting at the prayer table for an hour or so when she noticed a guy with a backpack awkwardly speed walk by their tent. He took a quick glance at the tent and continued on his way. But then the guy stopped, turned around and walked up to Morgan.
“He asked me to pray for his dog and walked away again,” said Morgan. “But he only got a few steps when he turned around again and said to me, “No, let’s do this right, let’s do this right here’, and we prayed for him on the spot.”
During the month of April, the University of North Texas in Denton, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Houston participated in an event called 72 Hours of Prayer. This event is run by the staff and students of the Baptist Student Ministries on each campus and it is something students look forward to annually. The people they meet on campus during this time are different every year, but the experience is the same as God steps in and shows His love.
“It is incredible to be able to witness and experience 72 hours of continuous prayer,” said Eric Nors, junior at University of Texas Arlington. “To be literally in the middle of campus and see so many students desiring the heart of God and that our little tent can make a big impact on our campus.”
Each year, several campus ministries come together to make this event happen in hopes that people will learn about prayer and come to understand the love of Christ. Connections that are made at the prayer tents often continue on past the end of the event. The goal is not only to pray for the campus, city and world, but to also make disciples.
When 72 Hours of Prayer started, Forrest Gates, a sophomore at UNT, received a text from his friend explaining that she had been having a really hard semester. Hearing this news, Forrest jumped at the opportunity to invite her to hang out with him.
“When we met up, the only thing she had to say was, ‘I have been feeling so lonely, like everyone is ignoring me,’” said Forrest. “In the past, she would reach out to me and I would get closer to the point of talking about salvation, but these three days created a greater opportunity to really show her that I was actually praying for her and it opened her eyes that there are people out there that actually care.”
The prayer tents offered ways for students to really engage, not only themselves but their campuses and the world around them. They focused on inward journeys through confessions, praying for others and writing out prayers; outward journeys-praying for the campus, city and world; and praying through the Lord’s Prayer. Each tent also made the effort to have music going 24/7 so the tents would feel more approachable.
“Personally, I think the coolest part about 72 Hours of Prayer is the attention it draws on campus,” said Caitlyn Barbee, campus missionary at UTA. “The tent is placed in a prominent, high-traffic part of campus and it makes people curious. It opens up so many opportunities for spiritual conversations.”
One of the aspects of the tents was giving away free Bibles, many of which were in different languages like Arabic, Chinese and Spanish. Having the Bibles available provides a way to really engage the students in prayer and finding Christ.
“People were really interested in the Bibles,” said Hannah, a senior at U of H. “I think people were drawn to the Holy Spirit and how they could personally relate to it.”
When the final seconds ticked off the clock and the 72 hours came to an end, students across all universities had a sense of fulfillment and joy of what they had witnessed and participated in during this specific time of prayer.
“It makes you stop and wonder what would happen if we did this event a lot more often. If we made it a point to pray all semester or all year versus only 72 hours,” said Shelby Byrd, freshman at UNT.