Prayer requests help students cope
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
By Tracy Corcoran
Students are being flooded with an overwhelming amount of e-mails concerning prayer requests.
About 32 prayer requests were sent in by students, staff and faculty last semester. So far, about 25 prayer requests have already been sent in this semester.
For the past five years, prayer requests have been sent in to the Dean of Students, Neil Arter, and forwarded to the Oklahoma Christian University community.
Last year, the university designed a prayer list where students can choose whether they wish to receive the requests.
The reasoning behind the sudden prayer requests can't be explained.
Arter said the most important thing is students are helping other students get through hard times.
"There is no real reason why that happens now," Arter said. "It's just the way it is, and we try to help each other through it and grow through it."
Arter believes students, staff and faculty make their prayers known because they know Oklahoma Christian is filled with people who will pray for and encourage during their troubling times.
"I guess a lot of people value and covet the prayers of people on this campus," Arter said. "There are times that I'll get contacted by alums who will say, 'Will you please be praying for this?' because they remember this is a campus where people pray. I think people really, in a time of need, covet everyone praying and everyone bringing this to God."
Junior Tim Krause recently lost his brother and sent in a prayer request asking for prayers for himself and his family.
"It's something you kind of feel inside. Something you know you need your brothers and sisters to be praying for you, it's kind of something God just tells you in your spirit," Krause said.
Sophomore Brent Stafford requested prayer for his grandmother who had a stroke. Stafford said having a community praying for him gives him a lot of confidence that God will act.
"I really believe in the power of prayer. I don't think that God sits upstairs just watching us screw up and fail and succeed and all the things we do," Stafford said. "I really do think God does miracles every day. I think when I have a big problem like that, if enough people pray about it, God's going to do something about it."
While sending in a prayer request may be out of some student's comfort zones, Krause said it's important to be able to admit you need help.
He was really worried went he sent the prayer request in, but he doesn't like pity.
"It's kind of humbling to have to ask the school for prayers. You have to admit to everyone 'I'm about to break down, All this stuff is going on, and I need help." Krause said. "The benefits of making your struggles known and getting prayers far outweigh any fear you might have."
While Stafford recognizes students may want privacy in their prayer requests, he believes the security a student will receive will be greater than any comfort they may be holding on to.
"There is definitely a privacy and comfort issue. You really do have to pretty much be vulnerable in front of the whole student body and say, 'This is what's going on in my life,'" Stafford said. "That can really be scary for a lot of people."
Stafford believes in risking security for comfort.
"Really having a community of people behind you, you're pretty much putting your comfort on the line for a lot of security," Stafford said. "It's definitely give or take."
Administrative Assistant for Planned and Major Gifts Emily Singer has also sent a request to the prayer list asking for prayers for her mother.
Singer believes the prayer list at Oklahoma Christian is as effective as it can be.
"[The main benefit is] the support and being able to know you have that support," Singer said. "It's a reassurance that it's taken care of through God; the more people praying, the better."
Freshman James Hatcher agrees with Singer. He is glad the campus is thinking of other's in times of need.
"Not only does the community get a chance to band together for someone in need, but it lets the person in need know that people actually are thinking of them when they need support," Hatcher said.
Many students who have sent in their prayer requests are pleased and thankful for the campus' response and support.
Arter said the campus' response has been inspiring.
"I sent out an e-mail saying I know the number of these is overwhelming right now, but we're getting these requests for some reason, so we're going to keep sending them," Arter said. "The response I got from the campus was so good to that and basically said, 'This is making me grow, this is challenging me, but I'm stepping up to the challenge.'"
Krause was surprised by how much encouragement and support he received from his fellow peers.
The biggest thing to hit home with Krause was how many people e-mailed him, told him they were praying for him and stopped by his apartment.
"There were way, way more people than I would have ever thought - hundreds of people," Krause said. "It kind of helps you realize your support network you have here - how many people actually care for you here. Whenever you lose somebody, it helps you realize how many other people you still have."
Krause's biggest concern involves the Oklahoma Christian community viewing him as someone other than himself.
"I was kind of afraid of people looking at me differently. I don't want people to think of me as the guy whose brother died," Krause said. "I just want people to think of me as Tim."
Krause said something bad happened, but he is still the same person.
Krause also wants to thank all of Oklahoma Christian for the prayers and support.
"Sincere thanks to everyone at OC and their families and the churches who have been keeping me and my family in their prayers because it has definitely made a difference," Krause said.
Hatcher hopes students can set aside their worries about sending out a prayer request and lean on God during hard times.
"You have to remember that you aren't sending the prayer request for yourself, you are sending this for someone you care about," Hatcher said. "I think it is very effective. The community here at OC is strong and recognizes the prayer list as a call out for someone in need."
As students send in their prayer requests, students, faculty and staff take a moment to lift up the people in need of prayers.
"A professor told me every time that prayer requests pops up on there, they pause in their day and pray for whatever we sent to him," Arter said. "That's what we are called to do. I'm inspired by the response the campus has to people's prayers needs."
Students who want to e-mail their prayer requests should send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.