Past Community Prayer
Thank you for praying with Biola during this season. To provide more content and resources, the Pray with Biola page has been published for your viewing. We appreciate your partnership!
As Biola takes steps to “love our neighbors,” doing our part to quell the spread of COVID-19, we are mindful of our community’s concerns, needs, and hopes during this time. Each week, President Corey, Campus Pastor Todd Pickett, and Director of the Center for the Holy Spirit Oscar Merlo will post new prayers addressing the dynamic currents of these days.
We invite the community to join us in interceding for the following groups of people by offering the following prayers.These prayers address the moment in which they are written. They are mindful chiefly of our community and their families, who are our first circle of care. They ask, if we must live in such days, how then should we pray? For whose service are we grateful, and what empowerment do they need? Who at this time is weak, and what strengthening is our request? What troubles do some suffer, and what comfort should we ask from God? What circumstances are pressing upon those we love, and for what relief do we cry out?
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4: 4b-7)
Week of January 21, 2021
What do we pray for now?
In the past weeks and even months, we have been praying for a drawback of the virus, for the health of our family and neighbors, and a subsequent reopening of the University. But God did not give us what we prayed for. The virus got worse, and nowhere more than in Los Angeles. Many have also been praying for a civil and dignifying election season. And God did not give us what we prayed for. In fact, the incivility and hostility ended up worse than most of us imagined it could be. What do we do when God doesn’t grant us the good things for which we pray?
We pray for wisdom.
First, we ask God again if these things for which we pray are good and right. Are health, peace or shalom in our country, and the University’s reopening still good things to pray for? I think we would have to say, yes! These particular prayers all seem to be downstream from how Scripture intends humanity to live, thrive and be redeemed. And so, with no words or wisdom to the contrary, we persevere in prayer for these things.
However, there is a second kind of wisdom we ought to ask for. This is the wisdom to know how to live in the meantime—perhaps especially when God is not answering these prayers. This other kind of wisdom is referred to in James 1:5: “ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
This wisdom is not the wisdom of decision-making or planning, of finding the secret will of God or the sin that has held it back from us, as if our failure to discern it hitherto has been the cause of our unanswered prayer, a kind of switch or lever that we can pull now with the right information and so bring down the answers to our prayers. No, this wisdom we may lack is that of ‘a good life, deeds done in the humility. that comes from wisdom,’ James says later in 3:13. He continues to define it there: ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness’ (17-18).
What we pray for while God is not answering our other prayers (at least in the way we would like) is that we would become full of the good fruit James writes of above. We pray that we would want these things above all other things we pray for, which is what makes such wisdom in us ‘pure’ and ‘from heaven.’ This is wisdom not for the future, but for the present moment, when the stresses and strains of unanswered prayers tempt us to be impatient, unkind, full of judgment, insincere and unrighteous. This is the wisdom that is freely available in any moment, for it is not ‘secret’ but evident. It is a prayer for love, which recalls us to wise responses in the present moment. It is additionally a prayer for wisdom about how we can become such people—what our part is daily in our sanctification, in our spiritual formation, and in our healing, which heals others.
So, as you continue to pray for health, peace, and the University’s reopening, pray with Biola that each one of us would have the wisdom to live in this time, in this moment, as those who have been shown what God’s wisdom can look like in His people.
Week of December 7, 2020
Prayer Requests from our Students
Every two weeks, we collect prayers requests from our students, and for this installment of Pray with Biola we wanted to bring some before you that represent the needs and prayers of so many more.
- As they finish the semester students are praying for perseverance:
- “Please pray that God would provide me strength, diligence, and endurance to finish this semester strong.”
- Many of them and their families are struggling with their health:
- “My aunt, uncle, cousin, grandma, and grandpa have all had Covid for the past week and its really stressful.”
- This continues to be a lonely time for many as they are apart from their learning and residential communities:
- “I am feeling lonely as most of my close friends are at Biola and I live out of state.”
- This season has been stressful on many families, which can exacerbate existing conflicts and tensions,
- “Please pray that my family experiences more peace in our relationships.”
- And many students are acknowledging the toll all of this is taking on their health:
- “Please pray for my mental health.”
- And finally, please pray also for those students soon to graduate in this fall semester and, as one student put it,
- “Complete trust in God, that even when I don't know what is going to happen in my life God does.”
Week of November 2, 2020
Pray for The Nation
This Pray with Biola update in its regular rhythm happens to fall on the morning of our national election before any results have been made public and before any victory or concession speeches have been made.
As with any election, there are some who will experience relief and joy.
And as with any election, there are others who will grieve, grow concerned and even fearful.
But one thing that we all can see together is that we live in a nation deeply, deeply divided,
And this should concern us all.
Today and in the days following, thousands of voices on radio, tv, blogs and social media will be trying to tell the future and understand what it all means.
But as Christians, citizens not just of this kingdom, subjects of not just this nation’s ruler, we know the big story and where it is going. So, we awake and do what we do every day. We worship our King.
Our political platform is, for instance, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) and the Upper Room discourse (John 13-17) and our campaign theme, if we were to have one, would be, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” or as Eugene Peterson translates it: “Change your life: God’s kingdom is here.”
Our mandate is to take the towel that our Lord gave us, to return to work, to wash the feet of one another, to follow the commands of Jesus who is carrying out the Father’s will, and who has sent the Spirit to birth in us love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
Our prayers will be many and perhaps most of all, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...” We invite you to pray this with us as our prayer for ourselves and our country:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
as we also have forgiven those
who have sinned against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
[For thine is the Kingdom and the
Power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.]”
Pray for the Kinnaman Family
It is with much sorrow that we ask you to pray with us for the Kinnaman family. Jill Kinnaman passed on to be with the Lord on Wednesday evening, Oct. 28, after a long battle with brain cancer. Jill was a great friend of Biola in partnership with her husband, David Kinnaman, a Biola trustee and president of the Barna Group. Please pray for David, and their children, Emily, Annika and Zack who remain and grieve for the loss of a wife and mother. You can read more about how the family is honoring Jill at https://www.prayforjill.com/.
Week of October 20, 2020
Prayer for Those Grieving
It is with great sorrow that we ask you to pray for two members of our community who are suffering through painful losses. Jonah Dantuma, son of Prof. Tonya Dantuma, suffered a traumatic brain injury on October 4th and passed on to be with the Lord the next day. 4 days later on October 8th, Prof. Kitty Purgason’s husband, Lee, passed away from cancer. What we do as the body of Christ at times like these is we call an assembly, gather around and call out to our God (Joel 1:14). Please join us in prayer:
Lord, you have created our hearts for unbroken fellowship with you and one another, and yet these are friends who must now experience for a time what we were not made for, the sorrow and deep grief of loss and separation.
Be near to them and their families. May they know beyond knowledge, somewhere in their very bones where their grief lies, the greater truth that Jonah and Lee are now experiencing perfect love with you. Thank you for the vision of that. We are thankful for these two, for the many ways they imprinted the lives of others with the gifts of their presence. We know that the final working of your redemption is resurrection but our hearts are never prepared for such loss, and so, Lord, may they know in their sorrow that there will be an eternal mending, that their los, will be met and filled with joy, made forever complete, and that Jonah and Lee are experiencing fully now the love of Jesus. Amen.
Prayer for Midterm Motivation
It’s midterm time at Biola University, and students are feeling it. “It is easy to see why students are exhausted,” writes Ashley Willans in the Harvard Business Review. “Loved ones are getting sick, virtual classes are energy-draining and it is hard to focus amidst worries.” In a recent collection of prayers requests from Biola students, staying motivated and focused on their studies was the major concern. “Honestly,” writes one student, “it feels like there is so much more work than normal (probably because of the online learning format), so I am struggling to keep up with homework, exams, discussions, etc.”
Please pray for students that they would develop a capacity to trust God even more with what they cannot control so that they might have the energy, peace and clarity of mind to focus on what lies before them as we pass the midpoint of the semester.
Prayer for Fruit of the Spirit
Biola professors Rick Langer and Tim Muehlhoff reminded us in a recent blog of the prophetic words of Deborah Tannen, shared 22 years ago, in her book The Argument Culture, “A characteristic of the argument culture is you exclude listening and you exclude an attempt to understand the other person.” Our prayer in this season is that Christians would not do this. The “relational content” of our dialogue in the Kingdom of God is just as important as the “conceptual content.” Relational content includes “the amount of respect between two individuals, how much we acknowledge each other, and are we compassionate towards each other,” says Muehlhoff.
Please pray in the coming weeks, through the election and thereafter, that members of the Biola community near and far would not only have the courage of their convictions but also the fruit of the Holy Spirit, along with whatever deeper trust and freedom from fear is needed to manifest these for God’s glory.
Week of September 23, 2020
A Day of Prayer
On Sat. March 26 in Washington D.C., a silent prayer march will begin at the Lincoln Memorial and proceed U.S. Capitol, “focused solely on asking God to heal our land.” This gathering, organized by Franklin Graham and “asking participants to not bring signs in support of any candidate or party” is an opportunity for all Christians everywhere to pray. We invite you to pray with Biola on Saturday, March 23 and during these next two weeks for:
- Humbling ourselves in repentance and asking God to forgive our sins and heal our land.
- Salvation of the lost. Renewed strength in our families. Frontline medical workers and solutions to the coronavirus pandemic. An end to abortion.
- Compassion and kindness toward one another. Respect and reconciliation between races. Healing in communities torn by violence and injustice. An end to racism.
- Security and peace for all people in this country.
- Righteousness and justice at work in all those who lead, from the White House to Congress and the Supreme Court, through leaders and the national, state and local levels.
- Our military, police and other law enforcement, firefighters, and their families
- For religious freedom.
(For more information on the gathering, see prayermarch2020)
Pray for Mental Health
Sept. 28th to Oct. 2 is Mental Health Awareness Week for Biola. Even before the onset of COVID, mental health issues had been on the rise among us, with nearly 1 in 5 people living with a mental health issue, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. Now, in these months of the pandemic, mental health issues have been exacerbated for many by fear, by isolation, by stress, and by financial setbacks. Biola’s students tell us of difficulties in focus, balance, motivation, and simply the physical, spiritual, and psychological space to be successful in their work, worsening anxiety and depression in some. These needs and stresses certainly affect all of us. Please pray daily during these two weeks for someone you know who struggles with their mental health, and pray for yourself! Prayer is often the first is also often the beginning of action, so let the Holy Spirit suggest to you how you might take steps to cooperate with what you seek in prayer for others or yourself. For more information on how Biola is seeking to help students with their mental health, visit the Mental Health Awareness Week website.
Week of September 8, 2020
For the Post-Labor Day Safety of Biola’s Returning Faculty, Staff and Students
With the fall year now begun, necessary faculty and staff are returning to carry out education for those learning remotely and to care for the smaller number of students living on campus. This is in addition to the community of essential workers who have been here all along. Added to this number are the students allowed to return for their programs — nursing students and athletes, for instance — as well as those for whom Biola’s campus is their best or only home. The university has put in place all the health and safety measures for the safe work and study of the Biola community. And yet, we ask God to protect them all with his hand, to be their salvation in spirit and body, and for a neighbor love that protects each other by complying with the best practices for health and safety, especially after a holiday weekend when cases normally rise.
This month is the 166th anniversary of a cholera plague that broke out in London in 1854, and where Charles Spurgeon, famed pastor of New Park Street Baptist Church in Southwark (outside the quarantined part of the city), was preaching. He himself suffered from diseases throughout his life and, it seems, depression as well. In one sermon during the cholera epidemic, he urges people, of course, to pray for God’s grace, but also to bless their neighbors by heeding the medical experts, what he calls that “useful secular knowledge” as a part of their neighbor love. He says, we ought “to be thankful for them, and hope that their teaching may be powerful with the masses. The gospel has no quarrel with ventilation, and the doctrines of grace have no dispute with chloride of lime. We would promote with all our hearts that which may honour God, but we cannot neglect that which may bless our neighbours whom we desire to love even as ourselves.”
Please pray that all — young and older alike — would see their calling to bless our neighbors with the sacrifices necessary for one another’s health.
For Biola’s Board of Trustees Meeting in September and the “Faithful Crossing Initiative” in all its Diversity
This month, the Board of Trustees and Cabinet meet as they do annually for intensive sessions to shepherd the university’s mission amid the opportunities and obstacles of the present moment and the years to come. In particular, they will discuss Biola’s “Faithful Crossing Initiative” — an image that echoes Joshua’s calling to lead the people of Israel into new lands.
In our time, such a faithful crossing seeks a future in which qualified students of all ages and backgrounds can enter Biola, receive a Biola degree and do this without encumbering unmanageable debt. This new vision will require that Biola reaches out to, retains and graduates a widely diverse student body. With this vision in mind, the Board will hear from one of its own, Dr. Bryan Loritts (pastor at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durhamand) and Bishop Ken Ulmer (senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles). Pray for a felt unity of spirit, an illumined vision, and some inspired planning for Biola’s future during this time.
Week of August 25, 2020
Pray for the Great Insteads
On Monday, August 31, a new school year begins, and with it a new biblical theme that will anchor our chapels for the year: Instead: Hope in the Steadfast God. The theme emerges from Isaiah 61, which in context is part of the prophet’s vision of an Israel who will return from exile, who will be vindicated before their enemies, and who will display the glory — what Isaiah calls the “splendor” — of God. Isaiah writes,
“God will bestow on them a crown of beauty
INSTEAD of ashes,
the oil of joy
INSTEAD of mourning,
and a garment of praise
INSTEAD of a spirit of despair. . . .” (61:2-3A) and,
INSTEAD OF “your shame . . . and . . . your disgrace” (61:7)
to be called oaks of righteousness
a planting of the Lord,” clothed with “garments of salvation” and “robes of
righteousness” for the “display of his splendor” (61:3).
This is a vision of righteousness, the sanctification of Israel, which will be a work of God, and their changed lives will be his glory. Please join with Biola and pray that in this strange time, in the version of physical exile that we live in, that we, too, will continue growing into “oaks of righteousness” — the reflection of God’s righteousness — in our jobs, our studies, our neighborhoods, our families. Pray that the Spirit would illuminate and use these words in all of our lives this year in ways both powerful and unforeseen. Everything has changed and nothing has changed. God’s great Insteads, the great reversals of the Kingdom of God are unchanged, even through these small insteads of this difficult and peculiar time.
Pray for Biola’s Students Beginning Remotely
Biola’s students who will begin the term on August 31 will, of course, be doing so remotely rather than what they imagined and we hoped would be a return to Biola’s campus. Now, many of them are watching as friends go off to college in other states, where restrictions are more relaxed and colleges are allowed to open. Los Angeles county and the state of California are among the most restrictive in the country, and Biola has had to follow these orders not to repopulate our campus.
For our students, this is hard to watch. Please pray that they would experience in these first weeks of school the joys of return, even remotely, a connection to community, a sense of belonging, an excitement for their continuing education, and the Spirit’s encouragement and affirmation of their decision to continue their studies at Biola in this time.
Week of August 10, 2020
Pray for the Big Day
August 18 may be the most significant day for Biola and its students this year: it is the deadline for fall enrollment. While this deadline each year is an exciting time for both Biola and its students, this year we all come to it in the midst of a great trial. Pray for our prospective and returning students and their families to come to a settled conviction before the Lord about what is best for them this fall. Pray that these students would be inspired by a vision for their continuing education and be granted the financial or other means to fully enroll if this is their desire. Pray for Biola that God will provide for its financial needs whatever enrollment looks like in the fall. And so we pray for all, “Lord, make haste to help us” (Ps. 71:12) and we will accept and be grateful for what you give. (To read more about enrollment challenges for students and colleges this fall, see this article from NPR).
Pray for Our Election Witness
This fall semester coincides with the home stretch of the national election and its aftermath, and most expect the slogans, soundbites and conversations to reach new depths of disparagement. Please pray that words and conversations from and among Biola’s community across the spectrum of political views would be a counter-cultural witness by communicating the dignity of others made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), by listening well (Jas. 1:19), and by reflecting “our confidence that whatever happens in the state of earthly affairs, and regardless of temporal wins and losses, the King of glory remains on his throne” (See Daniel Bennet’s article on “How Christians Can Prepare for the 2020 Election.”). We will know this prayer is answered where we see and hear these qualities in our community’s political engagement.