Talk of trenches, battlefields and warfare might be considered out of place in church.
But among the wooden pews and stained glass windows of the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal church, participants of the annual UNC 24/7 Prayer liken prayer to a spiritual war in itself.
“We have to wage war,” said Matt LeRoy, Teaching Pastor at the church Love Chapel Hill. “God is not afraid of our requests — he is big enough to handle them.”
Approximately 200 students involved in more than 20 campus ministries — ranging from the traditional Newman Catholic Student Center to the evangelical Reformed University Fellowship — are uniting this week to pray constantly for seven days.
Co-leader Ellen McNeill said the event started seven years ago by a collaboration of campus ministries that believed prayer is an efficient way to change things both personal and institutional. It was modeled after international, interdenominational 24/7 movements of prayer, but with a UNC focus.
Students sign up for any number of one-hour slots that run all day and night. The event started April 4 at 9:30 p.m. and will run until April 11.
“24/7 Prayer is about groups that are normally diverse and very divided coming together on the common grounds of prayer and one same God,” said Nathan Tilley, a member of the 24/7 Prayer planning team.
Tilley and the other event organizers agreed that prayer is an avenue of transformation, so they provided participants with prayer suggestions they might not think of, such as the nation as a whole.
Tilley said reminding people of the need to pray for the community and its larger context is something that’s integral to the event.