On Friday, Dec. 2, students from Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute and Trinity University gathered in Coray Gym for “Awake,” an all-night prayer vigil. The event began at 9 p.m. and ended at 6 a.m. on Saturday. It was the second time the group had met this semester. The first vigil took place on Friday, Oct. 8.
“The purpose of the prayer vigils is to bring us together across the campus for spiritual formation on our life with God together,” said Chaplain Angulus Wilson, who was in attendance at both vigils.
During the 2022 spring semester, former Student Chaplain of Prayer JY Yoon worked to implement consistent prayer vigils on campus. He hoped that prayer gatherings would become a regular part of campus life. This academic year, the chaplain’s office plans to hold prayer vigils once a quad.
J.T. Reeves, the current student chaplain of worship and a senior biblical and theological studies major, is organizing this year’s prayer vigils. He said last year’s prayer vigils made a deep impression.
“I had a lot of fun at them and being with the Lord was a really good time,” Reeves said. “A lot of us wanted to continue those even though a lot of the seniors left.”
Reeves and a collection of student leaders, including other chaplains and cabinet members from the Office of Ministry and Evangelism (OME), meet on Monday nights in the Kresge room, backstage of Edman Chapel, to pray and plan out the vigils.
Like last year, students from Moody Bible Institute and Trinity University have also participated in the vigils this semester. Organizers say they want to foster unity across these Chicagoland campuses. During the latest vigil, nearly 100 Moody students participated. Moving forward, students plan to encourage prayer vigil participation from additional colleges in the area.
Both of this semester’s vigils had four movements to them to help guide students in prayer. The Oct. 8 vigil began with prayer for the self then moved to prayer for home and prayer for college campuses before ending with prayer for the world.
This vigil centered on the coming of Christ and beholding his glory through the night as students stayed awake. The four phases of the Dec. 2 vigil were as follows: “Before: Make way for His coming,” “Believe: Listen to His voice,” “Behold: Look at Him,” and “Beware: Be ready–He is coming back.”
During the “Before” section of the evening, Reeves preached a message focusing on identity and his own personal struggles. He expressed how he often found his identity in his own performance rather than in Christ.
Students then had a time of silent personal reflection and meditation on Reeves’ message. After a few minutes, there was space for confession where students turned to others around them and discussed what was on their hearts.
“It’s a special thing to walk into a room of people and just to sit down somewhere and know that you’re gonna be with people around you for ten hours but you don’t know them yet,” said sophomore English major Cailin Elliott, who attended both vigils this semester. “Then by the end of the night, to know specific ways you can be praying for them and know what’s on their hearts.”
The next vigil will be Feb. 17, 2023. Reeves said the students at Moody are planning to host another vigil next semester as well.