Thousands of college students across the U.S. will engage in prayer on Thursday as part of the Collegiate Day of Prayer – a movement by Christian group Collegiate Impact to encourage the next generation of American leaders to welcome prayer into their lives and push back against the tide of "darkness" on college campuses.
The initiative began in 2009 in honor of a 19th century American prayer event that engaged college campuses in prayer for decades. The latest incarnation has grown over the last three years, and will reach over 2,000 college campuses this year.
Groups are free to hold prayer events however and wherever they would like, while Collegiate Impact refers them only to a checklist on its website that outlines what to concentrate on during prayer: opening hearts and minds to elicit student body awakening.
Dave Warn, Director of Collegiate Impact, told The Christian Post that while some campuses are further along than others in terms of promoting Christian prayer, all campuses need more work to spread the word.
"The vision of the Collegiate Day of Prayer is spiritual awakening on our campuses," Warn said. "There [are] 5,584 four-year and two-year campuses and we're believing God to have prayer coverage on all of those campuses. There are just so many layers of spiritual darkness and resistance, that we're believing God to push the darkness back and see lives change."
Warn said he hopes to impact every campus within the near future and cites the event's growth from 700 campuses last year to nearly 2,000 this year as reason to believe they are on the right track.
Campuses in 652 cities from all 50 states will work with college groups or local ministry members unaffiliated with the school that will "adopt" the event's direction.
Warn says engaging college students is important because they will dictate how the country is run in the near future and only four percent of the demographic regularly attends church.
"We realize all of our leaders are coming from our college campuses and how desperately we need a movement of God on our college campuses," Warn said. "The long-term goal is to see many more leaders come off of our college campuses and impact on the broader culture."
Warn said it is important for every college to get involved with the event, regardless of how engaged the school already is with prayer, and that it is the greater Christian community's responsibility to direct college campuses toward prayer.
"It's hard to paint a broad brush on prayer because some campuses have some great stories as well as campuses that just really need to engage in prayer," Warn said. "I believe, in some degree, there is a great need to raise the level of prayer and not only to have Christian ministries on campus doing that but to have the whole body of Christ to stop and pray for our nation."
More information about the event, including participating schools and prayer topics, can be found on the event's website.