One Way to Remember the World in Prayer

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The date was 2009, shortly after I became President of Asbury Theological Seminary. I had my head bowed and my eyes closed trying to listen to the prayer being prayed by a student from the pulpit in Estes Chapel at Asbury. Like most Christians, I earnestly want to become a participant, a kind of co-pray-er with the one who was praying, so that I might capture a glimpse of God’s heart. However, the longer I listened the more I realized that something was amiss. The prayer was mostly focused on various vague impressions about ourselves – people under stress due to studies, those among us who might be sick, those who might be living with anxiety, etc. There is, of course, nothing wrong with praying for ourselves in this way, but if this is the focus of our prayers, something is wrong.

I discussed my impression with the Dean of the Chapel in those days, J. D. Walt. I remember saying to him, “If I was a visitor from another planet and I just descended into Estes Chapel, I would think that Jesus Christ was the tribal god of Wilmore, Kentucky, rather than the sovereign Lord of Glory, because I had not heard of any prayer or intercession or petition that had gone outside the boundaries of Wilmore, Kentucky. J.D. listened thoughtfully and then a smile came across his face. I had already learned that this smile meant that J. D. Walt had an idea!

About a week later I was involved in leading worship in the chapel. As I stepped up to the pulpit I looked down and saw these words handwritten on a small piece of paper in 40 point ALL CAPS magic marker font and taped to the pulpit:

“REMEMBER THE WORLD!”

I noticed this week, almost five years later, that this paper – with that amazing message – is still taped on the pulpit of Estes Chapel. I stood there looking at the message, remembering the smile on J. D. Walt’s face. But, then I had a deeper realization. I began to think back and how dramatic has been the change in the prayers going forth from Estes Chapel. Regularly, you hear our students crying out for a lost world, praying that wars cease to the ends of the earth, interceding for those trapped in human trafficking, pleading to God on behalf of those who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ, and on and on it goes, week after week.

If that same space visitor were to visit Estes Chapel today and take notes about who Jesus Christ is, he would certainly conclude that Jesus Christ must be the Lord of heaven and earth, the great sovereign over all. I don’t know what the prayers are like in your church, but it might be time to get out a piece of paper and a marker and write, REMEMBER THE WORLD! and tape it to the pulpit!

Comments

  • Jason Aycock says:

    I was asked to pray in Estes not long after this happened and I distinctly remember stepping up to the pulpit and seeing those words taped to it. It has stuck with me to this day and I remember it every time I pray, especially during pastoral prayers. Made a huge impact on me.

  • Mary Fisher says:

    I am glad you said “shortly after I became President” for the Asbury I knew as a student ’83-85 in the middle of a decade living in China from 1977-87 and then on faculty from 1994 – 2005 before I returned to Australia was a seminary that was world focused before the Creator Covenant God in so many, many, many ways. But appreciate your reminder.