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Uniting in prayer for college students

A revival at Auburn University shows the power of prayer

The Auburn University campus in Auburn, Ala. Ray Tan/Royalty-free via Getty Images

Uniting in prayer for college students
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Our nation’s college students need prayer. Faced with increasing anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and other challenges our college students in fact may need prayer now more than ever. Prayer is the answer to so much of the challenges we face today.

I have seen first-hand both the need and the impact prayer have upon a community. Several young ladies on Auburn University’s campus meet with me regularly. In our mentoring meetings, I hear their anxieties. I feel their pain.

One young lady I have been mentoring told me that her anxiety was so bad that she hid in her closet, pulled her hair out, and begged God not to let her wake up the next morning. That young lady—precious in the eyes of God and those who love her—felt so overwhelmed by the pressures of life she prayed for it all to end. None of our children should feel this hopeless.

In my own life, I have found that the answer to life’s challenges is prayer. God laid it on my heart to begin praying for these college students—both here and across the country. It began with five students. Within weeks, more than 200 students were gathering to pray for revival on Auburn’s campus.

God heard our prayers and moved across Auburn’s campus, filling Auburn arena with more than 6,000 students on Sept. 12. These students met to worship and pray together.

At the end of the service, one young lady asked if she could be baptized. All 6,000 students were invited to a nearby pond to witness the baptism. Over 200 ended up getting baptized that night as thousands stood by and cheered them on. It was an incredible sight to witness. A true move of God.

That some in the university community would participate bothered one group.

That some in the university community would participate—especially in helping to baptize some of the students—bothered one group. With an angry letter addressed to the university administration, they demanded that anyone who might work for the university and attended Unite Auburn (and the baptisms that followed) be chastised.

My attorneys at First Liberty Institute tell me that Christians—even college football coaches at Auburn University—doing Christian things at a Christian event is protected by the Constitution. Religious liberty would mean precious little if it were restricted to whispers within the four walls of our houses of worship or relegated to broom closets.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey appears to agree. In her response to that letter, Gov. Ivey promised to safeguard “the religious freedom of all Alabamians.” She noted that what happened on Auburn’s campus that night, including with Coach Freeze, does not “violate anyone’s religious liberty.” Rather, she said, “The First Amendment protects the ‘free exercise’ of religion just as much as it prohibits government establishment of religion.” I believe that to be true and am grateful for her bold leadership.

Since that night, we have received an outpouring of support from around the nation. Student groups at public colleges from Alabama to Texas to Oklahoma to South Carolina and beyond are asking what they can do.

My answer is simple: Prayer moves God and when God moves, lives are changed. It is time for Christians to rise up, speak out, and plead with God to heal our nation. That begins with prayer.

Know that as you pray and as God moves on your campus, the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment protect your right to exercise your religion.

Armed with the confidence freedom brings, let us unite in prayer for our students. They need it. They’re worth it.

Tonya Prewett

Tonya Prewett lives in Auburn, Ala., and helped students start the “Unite Auburn” event on Sept. 12.

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