Day of Prayer
By Tammy Hogan
The Holy Spirit is bringing about an act of convergence on God here at Asbury Theological Seminary. The word convergence denotes the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity. It can also mean a coordinated movement of two eyes so that the image of a single point is formed on corresponding retinal areas. At our campus, this action is directed towards God, and is accomplished increasingly through prayer.
Throughout this past year, there have been small prayer meetings among students, faculty, and staff. These groups were unaware of each other, and simply consisted of people whose hearts were burning for more of God. Other interesting events concerning prayer began to appear as well. Last summer as the chapel office was scheduling speakers for services, they happened to invite Dr. David Thomas to teach on Travailing Prayer on Wednesday, April 27th. A couple of months ago, Dr. Tennent joined several Christian leaders from Lexington, Kentucky for an extended time of prayer.
As often happens, it takes some type of crisis to bring a community’s convergence on God to the next level. Since January, donations to Asbury Seminary’s Wesley Fund, (the fund for the operational budget) appeared to “turn off.” As the Office of Advancement began to analyze the cause of this, the Lord spoke to the heart of one of our staff members, whispering 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
When that verse was shared with the Administration, God inspired Dr. Tennent’s heart with an idea to return to an old Asbury Seminary tradition. Dr. Tennent decided to dedicate a community wide day of prayer and fasting. Since our world is much more connected now through technology, Dr. Tennent was able to invite you, our alumni, to join us in this day as well.
“If my people will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…”
On Monday, April 25th, the community gathered in Estes Chapel and Dr. Tennent blew a shofar to call us to a day of prayer and fasting. The air was heavy with anticipation! As we sang, hands were raised and knees were bowed as people worshipped God. It wasn’t about us. We were not focused on Asbury Theological Seminary or money. We were focused on Him!
“I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
The event had individual impacts as well as corporate ones. A student on our Kentucky campus said they were convicted of a past transgression of academic integrity. When they turned around in worship, the very professor they had sinned against was there. The student went to the professor, confessed, requested forgiveness, and they were reconciled.
One of our international students prayed specifically that God would provide for her school fees for the next academic year. She surrendered this need at the altar right before our corporate prayer meeting ended. Later that night, she received news that four people had given her a sum totaling an amount equal to next year’s school fees!
And as we humbled ourselves, repented, prayed and sought God’s face, gifts to help the Seminary’s financial need of over $600,000 began to pour in. We received over $350,000 in that single week, and also received emails of support from around the world. We thank all of you for joining us! This event was indeed an act of convergence, focusing all of our eyes on the single image of God!
By Rev. Jessica LaGrone
The Asbury Community experienced a wonderful Day of Prayer and Fasting on Monday, April 25.
We began the day with faculty gathered to begin prayer in one area, students in another, and staff in another. Each of these separate circles of prayer was led by a group of their own, and hearts were readied for a day in the Lord’s presence.
At 9:00 AM the entire community gathered in Estes Chapel. After we sang “Holy, Holy, Holy,” Dr. Tennent introduced a Call to Prayer for the day and even blew a shofar. Steve Seamands then led us through a guided prayer experience of the Lord’s Prayer, stopping in each segment for different types of prayer. During this powerful time we praised God, asked for provision, were led in intimate confession, and once again declared our loyalty to the Kingdom, power, and glory of God.
Throughout the day people were invited into different areas of prayer using art, liturgy, and music. At noon there was a gathering on the steps of the Administrative Building and the library with microphones used to call out prayer.
International students were able to pray out loud in their own languages in uninhibited, and joyful ways. They often wonder in amazement that our worship services are limited to only one hour when theirs have no time limits. Many of them loved this day because it felt more like their native worship – with people crying out spontaneously in prayer and no time limits but one form of worship bleeding into another and another all day.
God’s Spirit didn’t wait for Monday to begin. The night before one of the residence halls held a spontaneous prayer meeting that lasted late into the evening. One student was returning from their off campus job late, and feeling discouraged, and was tempted to go to their room and look at pornography. When that student walked into the dorm, they walked directly into the prayer meeting by accident and was immediately prayed for by the group. The student was instantly freed from that temptation.
Another student said they were initially convicted and unable to pray due to an unconfessed sin pertaining to a lack of academic integrity. When they turned around in worship the very professor they had sinned against was there. The student went to the professor, confessed, asked forgiveness, and was reconciled.
Another beautiful sight was the entire community worshiping together. Faculty members, students, maintenance workers, trustees, and administrators sat in pews side by side, and stood singing praises together.
We ended the day on the seminary green, just in front of the Student Center, with worship and breaking fast with a service of Communion. Once the service ended the cafeteria opened and served hamburgers and hot-dogs to the hundreds of community members and their families who had gathered, celebrating the day spent together in God’s presence.
Many people remarked that this felt “like the Asbury of old” with the revival at Asbury University. The Holy Spirit was palpable and God moved powerfully among His people. The community continues to experience a renewal and resurgence in worship and prayer several weeks later. We are grateful for God’s presence among us and continue to ask Him to use the Asbury Community to bring revival to His Church.
By Dr. Marilyn Elliott
Walking across the campus on the morning of April 25 was a strange and stirring experience. A deep quite permeated the campus, but in the trees and across the lawn a sense of expectation was stirring. For the first time in decades, the whole campus was falling to her knees to honor, worship, and seek God for His presence and provision. What might this day bring?
Monday the 25th was not chosen arbitrarily as the day of prayer. The preparation for it has been years in the making. Small buds of longing and seeking have been popping up throughout the community for some time. In the last 18 months a small collection of prayer groups, mainly led by students, blossomed into a collective movement of repentance, worship, petition, and love.
In the fall of 2015 prayer began taking shape around prophetic prayer gatherings such as those led by an international student, and by national student leaders who felt deep movements of the Spirit calling the community to prayer. A group of mostly international students fasted during the first 12 days of 2016 (each representative of one month of the year), gathering each evening to seek the Holy Spirit’s provision, and presence for that month of the upcoming year.
As this was happening, the community was touched by fresh teaching of travailing prayer, and a group of students and staff began meeting on Mondays to explore this calling. In this same time an international scholar came to Asbury for a writing sabbatical. Rather than focus on his writing, this man had a deep encounter with the Holy Spirit and thereafter spent extensive time in prayer. In his own words, “The God of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of God has pressed so greatly and heavily upon my heart to pray fervently and earnestly for true spiritual awakening in a both Asbury Seminary and university (I use Ephesians 1:17-23; 3:14-21 very often). I have been experiencing the mighty working of the Holy Spirit while in Asbury over these nine months.” These are just a few of the precursors to God catching our community into a tidal wave of prayer.
In the end God used a financial need to create the opportunity for us to set aside all else and pray. The Wesley Fund from which daily needs are provided for was in need of support and Dr. Tennent called the community to prayer on Monday, April 25. To our surprise that date also marked the arrival of a family of Syrian refugees who we as a school were committed to sponsoring. It was clear to those who were listening to the Holy Spirit that a convergence was occurring, and our calling to prayer was about much more than simply the needs of the school.
The days before the prayer day were active with anticipation, and much spiritual warfare. There was a restlessness among the community as well as a percolating sense of hope. Small problems seemed to become magnified in some situations, and confusion about the purpose and meaning of the day erupted often. These moments were faced and prayed through, and the plans for the day moved forward.
The day itself began with three peer led prayer meetings, one each for faculty, staff and students. From there we gathered in Estes for inspiration and worship, but mainly for prayer. The presence of the Holy Spirit brought deep prayer, confession, unity, and love. Throughout the day many experiences and opportunities unfolded in the power of the Holy Spirit. Public prayers on the front steps of the Administration building and library, worship and prayer in Estes led by student leaders, contemplative prayer circles, liturgical prayers, and prayer walks transformed the entire campus into a great prayer chapel.
Meanwhile the community in Florida and Memphis as well as the distance communities of online students, Board of Trustee members and alumni joined in active prayer. The day concluded with a gathering of more than 300 people on the central green in Kentucky, as we celebrated, sang, shared the Eucharist and broke the fast with a picnic meal.
The day of prayer lives in our hearts with a beautiful fragrance. But more than a memory, the day of prayer was a release of vision and hope for the future. The flame that was lit by unified voices is and will be tended and nurtured into the future. We already see signs of change, evidences of increased love and faithfulness, and an inflow of generous provision for the seminary and for individuals alike. Although our lives still hold pain, loss, and deep concerns, we have fixed our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and we will continue on this road to the end.