As we prepare to welcome students to campus, whether they’re returning or arriving for the first time, our first and most important task is to ensure that they, the campus, and the coming school year are covered in prayer. To help us start the school year well, you are invited to join us in 21 days of prayer for the three weeks before classes begin. Especially if you’re a current student, this is a great opportunity to get (back) into the habit of prayer before your schedule gets taken up by classes.
When We’re Praying
Whether you’re a current student, parent, alum, donor, or anyone else who believes in the mission of Wesley, we’d love for you to join us for 21 days of prayer from 5pm to 5:30pm (or another period that works with your schedule) beginning tomorrow, August 1, through August 21 (the day before classes start). If you’re on campus, we’ll begin our weekly prayer and communion service on Monday, August 6 at 5pm, and you’re invited to join us to spend time in prayer together.
Take it to the Next Level
If you’d like to add something extra to these 21 days of prayer, consider the Wesley Fast. This fast is based on the spiritual discipline advocated by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, to fast from sundown on Thursday until 3pm on Friday. As a spiritual discipline, fasting allows us to refocus our dependence on God, and what better time to do that than the beginning of a new school year. If you’ve ever thought about trying fasting as a spiritual discipline, these 21 days would be a great opportunity to do so. For more about the Wesley Fast, click here.
If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some suggestions about things and groups to pray for in preparation for the coming year (scroll down for suggestions for both students and non-students):
For Parents, Alumni, and Other Non-Students
In particular, you are invited to pray for those who are new to campus, including both freshmen and transfer students. For all students, though, we invite you to join us in praying that they will experience God’s presence and find a place to belong on campus during the coming year.
The Campus Community
The University of Alabama campus community includes faculty, staff, administrators, and others in addition to students. You are invited to join us in praying for their wisdom and discernment as they lead the campus in the year ahead.
Wesley’s Staff, Students, and Ministry
As a ministry, we covet your prayers for the year ahead that we would be effective in fulfilling our mission to be a place for all people to discover their God-given identity while fulfilling their God-ordained purpose. In particular, we invite you to pray for our ministry areas and our team of student interns and coordinators that lead them:
Executive Staff: Wade Langer and John Fleischauer
Pastoral Intern: John Austin Higginbotham
Worship Team: Logan Henderson, David Conour, and Ansley Weaver
Fellowship Team: Sam Donley and Hannah Alford
Discipleship Team: Ruth Hallstead
Outreach Team: Will Harper
Administration Team: Charlie Warren, Leann Locke, and Bryant Vickers
Communications Team: Amelia Volpe, Emeline Earman, and Jonathan Holle
Week of Welcome
Finally, we covet your prayers for Week of Welcome, which is August 19-25. This is the single most significant opportunity we have to connect with new students during the year, but it’s also an incredibly busy and tiring week for our team as we host daily events on top of the first days of class. Pray that students would find their way to and connect with us and that our team would find energy and enthusiasm beyond their own capacity as they welcome those students.
Those New to Campus
Pray for those who will be new to campus this year, whether freshmen who are away from home for the first time or transfer students who are coming in midway through their time in school. Pray that they would experience peace and excitement as they come to campus, and that they would find a place of community once they arrive.
Those Returning to Campus
Pray for all of the students who are returning to campus, including sophomores with a year under their belt, seniors preparing for the final year on campus, and everyone in between. Pray that they would experience new beginnings this year and would return to campus eager to connect with friends and get started with classes.
Your Department and Major
You know better than anyone the specific needs of those in your department and major, so pray for your classmates and the specific challenges that are unique to you.
Your Residence Hall/Apartment/Neighborhood
Whether you live on or off campus, pray for those in your residence hall, apartment complex, or neighborhood. Pray for their safety during the upcoming year, and that home would be a place where they belong and can find peace and calm throughout the year.
Faculty, Staff, and Administrators
Pray for those who lead the University including faculty, staff, and administrators. Pray for their wisdom and discernment as they lead and teach in the upcoming year.
Finally, pray for Wesley: our staff, student leadership, ministry areas, and all that we’ll do in the year ahead. Pray that all we do would help students to discover their God-given identity while fulfilling their God-ordained purpose.
This week is already a lot. So, we’re keepin’ it simple: A worship song and a Psalm. We hope that the time you spend here today will settle your heart and mind and be a chance to breathe in God’s perfect peace even if just for couple minutes.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Have a favorite song or set of verses that bring you peace? Submit your suggestions here, completely anonymously, no explanation required.
by Ruth Hallstead
Only 696 hours until finals are over. But who’s counting, anyway? It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking, I just have to make it until _____. Counting down the days, hours, minutes until something exciting, whether it be the end of a class, a vacation, summer, a concert, anything. This is a dangerous place to be though—if you’re always looking forward to something exciting, you often miss all the fun stuff along the way! When I was younger, I used to get so excited for the end or beginning of something, that by the time I got there it couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations and I was almost always disappointed. Not only that, I realized I was totally blind to any small (or even big) things in between. Getting to sleep in, seeing a nice sunrise, running into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, stuff like that. I was always so ready for X to happen that I missed A-W! I worked (and continue to work) really hard to fix this mindset, because while sometimes you do simply have to grin and bear it, that only gets you so far. Every day has something wonderful in it—or at least not totally awful. On a grander scale, sometimes Christians are criticized for our view that this life is temporary, and greater things await us in heaven. Let’s go to the Psalmist for some wisdom about that. “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). In this Psalm, David alternates between praising the Lord, asking to be delivered from his enemies, and speaking about life after death. I think we can take a major life lesson from David here. Yes, life everlasting is going to be amazing. But so is life now! For the short term, yes, being done with finals will be great and it’s okay to be excited. But don’t let anticipation take over your life. We CAN’T skip to the good part. Or we’ll miss all the good parts in between! As you trudge through this week and the next, go ahead and get excited about fun things coming up. But don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Bask in the sun. Read a chapter of a good book. Lay in bed for five more minutes. Rejoice in whatever is happening right now. And then rejoice in whatever happens next!
by Hannah Alford
On Monday, Alexi talked about the Armor of God, one of my favorite passages from the Bible, and how it arms Christians in their mission to further the message of Jesus’s love. I wanted to go more in depth of it because these verses have so much packed in them and such a great message! Obviously, when we’re talking about the armor of God, you’re not going to wearing a giant metal suit everywhere you go, but, that doesn’t mean it is not important to carry it with you at all time. On a battlefield (a battlefield, a battlefield) you have to have your full armor, you can’t go without your helmet of salvation or breastplate of righteousness, or any piece of armor, because you’re vulnerable without it. But, with the full armor of God on your side, you’re not fighting with swords that kill, you’re fighting with words. To be a Christian is to be a representation of the mission Jesus instilled when he died on the cross. Our truth holds our beliefs (as a belt), we defend ourselves with faith (as a shield), and we spread the gospel of peace (as shoes) by going out into the world and making known the salvation in every single person on this Earth. Paul wraps it up beautifully by bringing it back to prayer, the foundation in our relationship with God and the strongest link in making connections with others.
“And pray in the Spirit in all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)
Here is the Armor of God passage as well if you want to look back on it 🙂
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Ah, 2009. What a year. Among other gems, we got this hit-ballad from Jordin Sparks asking why love always feels like a battlefield (a battlefield, a battlefield). Now, to be fair, I think it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t the model for a super healthy romantic relationship – especially since she doesn’t even know what they’re fighting for. But, when we follow Jesus, sometimes love does feel like a battlefield (a battlefield, a battlefield) (sorry, I’ll stop now). Following Jesus can be challenging because Jesus has enemies aka Satan and, as Christians, we are called to resist the temptation and evil that is thrown at us – which is really, really hard. Like Jordin says one minutes it’s love and you’re on a spiritual high from service or your morning devo and then it’s the smallest things that tear you down. So, let’s skip a few verses ahead and take some advice from the song – “You better go and get your armor (insert echo).” Our armor is laid out in Ephesians 6:11-18. Often called the armor of God, this passage is modeled after the Roman armor of the day because the recipients of this letter would have a clear image of what this looked like and the Roman army was the most formidable force in the world.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
There are a few things I find particularly interesting about this – the first being that Roman armor had no backplate because they weren’t allowed to retreat. Where have I started to retreat from the battleline out of fear, pressure or just distraction? The other interesting piece of this, to me, is that we are only provided with one weapon – the Word of God (vs. 17). Now, I don’t know a lot about Sword fighting, but I’ve watched a lot of Reign, and I’ve learned that no soldier would go into battle without being very familiar with his weapon. How familiar am I really with the weapon I am given? What can I do to make myself more familiar with it? If we’re on a battlefield, let’s do our best to be prepared.