Commitment Week Reflection – October 2019
Each year in mid-October at the Lancaster Campus we have a weeklong chapel series called “Commitment Week.” Over the years the chapels have focused on a variety of things such as identity, “seeing with new eyes”, God’s love for us, and “wellness” or “wholeness.” This year, Hunter Hess and Rashard Allen, both pastors at Neffsville Mennonite Church, shared with us on the topic of prayer and the belief that “Prayer Changes Everything.” Hunter and Rashard shared about what prayer is, various ways to pray, and stories from the Bible and from their own lives relating to prayer. They also challenged students to pray for things that they or others are struggling with or for things they are hoping to see change. Prayer, at its core, is communication with God and Hunter and Rashard reminded us that just like any form of communication, prayer can look, sound, and feel different depending on the circumstances of the one praying and depending what is prayed for. At times, prayer is conversational, at times it is loud and fervent, at times prayer is silent and reflective. Likewise, God communicates with us in a variety of ways including Scripture, our emotions and feelings, our circumstances, and through the words of others. Hunter and Rashard encouraged us to use Scripture as a guide for how to pray and for what to pray. For example, Lamentations and the Psalms are examples of God’s people pouring out their hearts to God in anger, pain, and disappointment as well as in awe, praise, and gratitude. God is big enough to welcome our expressions of anger, doubt, and pain. Hunter and Rashard reminded us that Jesus himself, as recorded in Matthew, provides an excellent framework for how to pray. In “The Lord’s Prayer” Jesus encourages us to praise God, to pray that God’s will and kingdom would be realized on Earth as in Heaven, to ask for things that we need, to confess our shortcomings and ask for forgiveness, and to ask for strength to persevere. Jesus also models a range of postures of prayer as he prays alone, he prays in gratitude, he prays for unity for his disciples, and as he prays fervently crying out to God in pain at the time of his trial and crucifixion.
Throughout the week Hunter and Rashard challenged us to pray and to consider situations in which our prayers were answered in the ways and in the time frame in which we asked. They also encouraged us to consider situations in which our prayers were not answered as we hoped they would be. They reminded us that even in those moments and perhaps most often in those moments “prayer still changes everything” as perhaps the most important change and transformation that needed to happen was a healed relationship, a change in perspective, or a softening of the heart toward God and others.
Hunter and Rashard ended the week with a call to prayer for all of us in the auditorium. They encouraged us to pray in whatever way the spirit was moving us to pray. Some students and faculty prayed silently at their seats while others moved to be with friends or faculty members.
We are very grateful for Hunter and Rashard and for their willingness to take time from their busy schedules and to share with us. It was a positive week and provided students and faculty with an important time to reflect on prayer and hopefully to renew their commitment to pray without ceasing because “Prayer Changes Everything.”
Written by Jeremiah Denlinger, School Counselor, Chapel Coordinator and Spanish Teacher