For seven decades, Welch College has set aside a day each semester for the entire campus community to give itself to prayer. This past Wednesday was our spring semester Day of Prayer, entitled “Praying the Scripture,” and it was a delight to be involved in.
The Day of Prayer events were led by Dr. Barry Raper (program coordinator for Youth and Family Ministry who also serves as senior pastor of Bethel Free Will Baptist Church, a growing congregation in the Nashville area) and Mr. Matthew McAffee (campus pastor and program coordinator for Theological Studies). We started the day at 8:30 a.m. with a song, prayer, and a talk from Dr. Raper on “Praying the Scripture.” This talk set the stage for the rest of the day’s events.
In his talk, Dr. Raper shared about George Müller’s method of praying the Scripture. Dr. Raper studied this in his doctoral program in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He began his talk by asking the students, faculty, and staff if they ever struggle with three common obstacles in prayer:
- Mere routine
- Loss for words
Then he said that “even though there is not an easy way to overcome these obstacles, there is a simple way to pray that can help you enjoy more enriching and effective prayer.” And he shared the method of George Müller, the nineteenth century Englishman who started an orphanage for the purpose of showing believers that God answers prayer. Here are some quotes he shared with us:
Before this time my practice had been, at least ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer after having dressed in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing was to give myself to the reading of God’s Word, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.
I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words of the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.
The result I have found to be almost invariably is this, that after a few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less to prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next word or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead it, but still continually keeping that food for my own soul which is the object of my meditation. The result of this is that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart.” (From Muller’s testimony in A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Müller [London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1855], 1.3, May 7).
Then Dr. Raper explained that “Müller’s testimony is backed up by different prayers recorded in the Bible—examples of people of faith receiving the Word of God and turning it back to God in prayer.”
For the remainder of the Day of Prayer, the Welch College community put into practice what Dr. Raper had described. From 9:20 to 9:50, everyone engaged in private prayer time, praying through a psalm or New Testament passage. Then we reassembled and watched two videos on prayer needs, one from the Nashville Rescue Mission and the other from the Voice of the Martyrs about persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
Then, from 10:30 to noon, Dr. Raper and Mr. McAffee led a concert of prayer. In the concert of prayer the A.C.T.S. formula was used, with prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication punctuated with Scripture readings and congregational songs that corresponded to each component, as well as small-group times of sharing and prayer. At one point in the concert, different students were asked to share spontaneously: “I praise God because. . . .”
I have heard so many students, faculty, and staff comment on how edifying and enriching this semester’s Day of Prayer was, and I agree. I thank God that we have one day each semester at Welch College that is set aside for prayer and for emphasizing the importance of prayer and its vital place in the Christian life. Please pray for Welch College that it will continue to be, as it always has been, a place of prayer.