Class Prayer: ‘Flexible’ Foundation Unites Students
From weekly Chapel services to yearly events such as Great Commission Congress and Fall Revival, much of Asbury’s rich spiritual background is rooted in tradition. One tradition deserving more attention is Class Prayer — a monthly gathering of students, in their respective classes, to lift up their requests for each other, for campus, and for the world. Through Class Prayer, students are encouraged to grow in unity and to be genuine in their approach to worship.
William Summay, one of the Illuminated class chaplains, says that students who pray with each other are drawn together not only by shared experience, but by a common bond of faith.
“It’s so valuable to pray for each other as a class, because we’re all at the same place,” he said. “We all know where we’re at in college, and so we know what we’re going through, and when we come together pray and pray for each other, there’s so much more unity and community in the class, but also, there is the unity we have as those drawn together by Christ.”
While individual prayer is essential, Summay says that it is not a replacement for corporate prayer. Class Prayer is one way to encourage students to pray as a body.
“I am all about bringing people together in the name of God,” Summay said. “I’m also all about individual faith, but if we’re not coming together as the body of Christ, we’re not acting as the body of Christ. I see myself as a gatherer — to gather the body of Christ for this purpose.”
Senior Seth Van Der Eems agrees that prayer is an essential part of community.
“I like the fact that classes have a chance to come together and pray as a community, to get to know each other, and lift up each other up as well as other classes,” he said. “Just that interaction, especially at a place like Asbury, where ‘community’ is such a key word, prayer is such a key part of that.”
The format of Class Prayer is at the discretion of the class chaplains, varying between classes and even between events. This flexibility allows chaplains to tailor services to the needs of their classmates. Sophomore Mandy Smith, one of the Ransomed class chaplains, believes that this flexibility encourages a genuine attitude toward worship.
“This semester has been interesting, just because there really is no ‘cookie cutter’ layout for class prayer — which, in a lot of ways, is refreshing because there is nothing ‘cookie cutter’ about genuine prayer,” she said. “Our first class prayer was held at the Reservoir, and I personally thought it was a great way to kick start the year as a student body.”
After Class Prayer at the Reservoir, about 15 students lingered behind, Smith says. One of the students who had been leading worship “decided to pull his guitar back out,” and the small group of remaining students began to sing, worshipping for more than an hour.
“There was no instruction or urging to do this by any means, they just did it,” Smith said. “And, quite honestly, it was one of the most beautiful acts of worship I have ever seen. Nothing but creation, creator, and praise — it was blissful to say the least and I believe it was definitely a defining moment in the community building of our class.”
Sophomore Nathan Sharp, serving as a Ransomed class chaplain with Mandy Smith, encourages students to take advantage of the unique opportunities presented by Class Prayer.
“Christian community is so important to the health and growth of any believer, and Class Prayer exists so that we can take this community and make it real,” he said. “Sure, there are many other events that occur here that are centered around Asbury’s theme of community, but how many other times throughout the year do you get to just sit down with your class and communicate with God? Take advantage of these times, for time here goes by quickly.”
–by Joel Sams ’15