On Friday Sept. 14, students from across Chicagoland gathered for prayer in the Torrey-Gray Auditorium at Moody Bible Institute. The all-night meeting began with reflections by several students and leaders from Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute and Trinity International University. Students then worshipped through the night, sometimes praying in groups or in pairs, reflecting in silence or standing to sing.
Wheaton junior Jonathan Vines, who spoke at the event, outlined the broad prayer focus: “That we would be made more aware of how much [God] wants to give Himself to us, and that in parallel to that we would have a greater hunger for Him.”
Vines described the first section of the event (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) as an invitation to prayer. More than 100 Wheaton students were in attendance. Multiple testimonies from students and faculty gave background on Chicagoland University Prayer’s (CUP) purpose and inception.
A brief, passionate time of worship through song was followed by a gospel message from Vines. Then, the focus shifted to prayer for Chicagoland campuses. Wheaton student involvement with this movement began this summer. While serving with Youth Hostel Ministries, Wheaton senior Colin Wolgemuth unexpectedly received an email from revival historian and Trinity adjunct professor Richard McLaughlin, who Wolgemuth had met during a presentation on campus by McLaughlin about the 1995 Wheaton revival.
After a phone conversation about simultaneous prayer movements at Moody and Trinity, Wolgemuth joined in a vision of bringing together Chicago university students for prayer. Wolgemuth collaborated with Philip Kwong, Anna Herning, Bethany Faulds and Jeff Glosenger to invite Wheaton students to three meetings on Sept. 14, Oct. 26 and Nov. 9. Their efforts gained support from Chaplain Blackmon, who made it possible for CUP to present in chapel and attended part of the Friday prayer meeting.
While representatives shared specific requests from each campus, most of the prayer time was designed to invite students from different colleges to meet and pray for each other. “Just as we’re working towards unity here on campus, we should also work for unity across campuses because we are one body of Christ,” reflected junior Philip Kwong.
Students broke into small groups and prayed together. At 11 p.m., a break accommodated those who were not able to stay overnight. Those who stayed through the night moved to another, smaller chapel space on the ground floor of a Moody residence hall.
Prayer from 11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. was much less formal. Everyone was welcome and encouraged to pray aloud. At the start, students from different campuses prayed together against lies of inadequacy, personal pride and idolatry.
Underpinning the open prayer structure were calls to song every couple hours, which became a mental break and morale boost especially during the small hours of the morning. One major theme of prayer and praise for the event was church unity.
There was a sense that, while this unity is still sorely needed, the existence of the Chicagoland University Prayer’s event was a step in the right direction. Each student interviewed by the Record credited this work of unity to the Holy Spirit.
Student leaders and the worship structure stressed the importance of humility and repentance, of coming into agreement with God’s desire for each campus, the city of Chicago and the world. Anna Herning believes that because of this work, “I’m expecting to see real change in our lives. I’m ready for God to break off the pride and apathy that I’ve been so prone to, and that, I think, really holds our campus back from great kingdom works.” CUP invites all students to the next prayer gathering on Oct. 26.