Postgraduates and prayer: forging a missional core
‘Prayer is where the action is...’ - John Wesley
The truth of that quote attributed to John Wesley has been increasingly borne out with my students these past months. I work with Inter-Varsity Canada, with postgraduate students at the University of Alberta, located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We started meeting weekly to pray for each other as we engage in mission on campus.
As we continue to meet together, the culture of our prayer has been increasingly missional. In addition to discussing work and people around us who need prayer, we share stories of the people and places where God has placed us to bear witness to Jesus through the power of the Spirit.
We also have been growing in number - at first, two other students joined us, and now we regularly have five or six others.
This in turn has been shaping the new students to think and engage more missionally, because they join a group that has a missional culture. They observe the way we’re telling stories and praying for each other, and they engage in the same way. So increasingly they've been inviting their friends out to Graduate Student Fellowship events.
They’ve also been inviting each other to participate in the things they are doing with their friends. One student invited us to play football with his office friends, partly because he likes football and wants more people, and also because he’s seeing the strategic nature of introducing his friends to more Christians.
It may seem like a natural outcome for people to choose community and friendship, yet the focus and thinking has clearly been shaped by time in prayer together. The mind-set has been (and still is) shifting from mission being an addendum to life to mission being as integral as breathing.
Thinking of mission not as the thing we do on the side, but instead as the reason we exist, turns us from focussing on our wisdom and strength to seeking God’s will and guidance as we pursue lives soaked through with mission. For me this has become crystallised in participation in the squash club (which is mostly postgraduate students). Squash club isn’t just a place I go to train and play a sport I find deeply enjoyable – it also is a place where I am because the God of mission has shaped me and called me to follow Him. Being there puts me in relationship with people who don’t yet know Jesus.
Do pray for Jesus to raise up and shape students to be thinking and living missionally - seeing themselves as placed in their academic program, lab or office because the Lord of mission desires to see that group of people come to know Him.
Please pray for us as we pray for each other and our campus. Pray for us to be bold in how we pray, asking the Father to be manifested in the strong and powerful name of Jesus through the indwelling of the Spirit of holiness. Our hope, dream and vision is for what happened in the early church to happen with us: ‘the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’ (Acts 2:47). Join us in praying this into reality!
PS: want to learn more about Alan’s ministry? Sign up for his prayer updates.