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 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
Praying in front of Unbelieving Roommates
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Praying in front of Unbelieving Roommates

Priscilla Kuo—Baldwin Park, California, USA

THE PRAYER THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

One afternoon during the first week of college, I was sad when I heard that some of my fellow True Jesus Church college peers were too busy to attend our campus fellowship Bible study. It was only the first week of school. Perhaps they had more school assignments than I did, but their workload couldn’t have been so heavy that they already couldn’t spare an hour or two in their schedule to come before God. To me, it was a reflection of their priorities.

My heart was heavy and I wanted to pray. However, my roommate was in the room doing homework. Although I had already explained our prayer to her and she nonchalantly consented to my praying whenever I needed to, I still tried to pray when she wasn’t in the room. But that afternoon, I no longer cared if she would be surprised at the sound of prayer; the only thing on my mind was that I needed to cry out to God to lift the burden on my heart.

I quickly asked my roommate if she would mind if I prayed, and she shrugged and said “Go ahead,” so I thankfully knelt down to pray. As soon as I was before God, I started to cry in my prayer because I was worried that my fellow brothers and sisters would gradually push God further away in their newfound college freedom, forget Him, and pursue after the world. I was also anxious that our campus fellowship would fall apart, as it did during previous generations, because the members became busy with their own lives. During my prayer, I desperately asked God to watch over us and to not let us forget His grace.

Suddenly, I felt warmth around me, as if someone was really hugging me. In shock, I opened my eyes to see my roommate praying beside me in silence with her eyes closed and her arms around me. I was so touched that she could look past the different way I prayed and show her concern by stopping what she was doing to pray with me. I felt God comforting me through her gesture of compassion and love. Then I cried even harder because I knew that God understood and that He was with me.

During that spontaneous afternoon prayer, I had my first experience with God in college. Since then, I have learned why continual prayer is so important. I would like to share with you three points why I believe that a consistent prayer life is necessary in every Christian’s life.

WHY WE NEED A CONSISTENT PRAYER LIFE

One: Because the Holy Spirit helps us not to enter temptation and help us in our weaknesses. As humans, we are created flawed, with weaknesses in God’s design to allow us the chance to experience His love and power when we ask Him for strength. Lord Jesus encouraged us in Luke 22:40 to “pray that you may not enter into temptation.” He spoke these words when He lived among us and experienced the weaknesses of the flesh. He warned the disciples to beware of the tendency to follow one’s fleshly desires. How? Not through awareness, intelligence, or strength, but through prayer.

Romans 8:26 explains that the Holy Spirit

            helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

We do not know what is to come or even what weaknesses we may have. God, however, knows and is willing to aid us when we turn to Him.

Two: To continue to grow and to experience God on our own. That afternoon prayer was the beginning of closer friendships with my roommate and with God than I could ever have imagined. I really thank God that He allowed me to cross paths with my roommate. She was one of my closest friends throughout college and remains so today, even after we have both moved home.

From my relationship with my roommate, I see parallels with how my relationship with God grew. My roommate and I spent countless hours talking about everything. Not only did our personalities complement each other, but talking about God, our faith, and our struggles also drew us closer.

Likewise, I put in more time and effort into talking to God. As I began to treasure my time in prayer, I began to understand Him first as a father who provided for me and then as a friend who walked with me day by day. I began to turn to God not only in times of trouble but in everyday events.

For example, I no longer had the help of my sister to correct my essays in college, so I learned to pray about my anxieties with writing essays. God heard me and helped me by bringing to mind different ideas to write about. There was one specific essay I fervently prayed about, and that was the time I received my first “A” on a college essay. That experience allowed me to see that I could tell Him everything, even the mundane, in prayer, and He would listen. He became a faithful friend who supported me time and time again.

Three: Because intercession is powerful. Right after the moving prayer with my roommate, I had the courage to call my peers again and ask them to come to Bible study, not allowing myself to be discouraged if they were unwilling. Thank God that, beyond my expectations, they agreed without making any excuses and came regularly. From that day on, I witnessed the power of God changing their hearts and moving them to seek after Him. Remembering others in prayer is simple yet effective.

Looking back now, it is hard to believe how helpless and alone I felt a few years ago. In our campus Bible studies on Paul’s letters, I learned from Paul how to consistently intercede for others. In Colossians 1:9, Paul demonstrates the way he and the apostles prayed for members when he said,

            [W]e also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Our supplication on behalf of others may move God to grant them the strength they need or even save their souls.

OVERCOMING YOUR FEAR

Often, to have a consistent prayer life means praying before unbelieving roommates. There are many ways to approach the subject of how we pray with our roommates. The most direct and perhaps easiest way is to tell them you are a Christian and that it is a common practice to offer daily prayers. It is then very easy to explain to them exactly how we pray.

Other ways include turning a conversation onto the subject of religion by asking them about their religious beliefs, talking about the week and what you do on Sabbath, or sharing your past and including how God has guided you. Whichever method you choose, the best time to tell your roommate is as early as possible. It allows them time to grow accustomed to the idea that you pray regularly and to expect the way you pray.

Of course, we need to be considerate of our roommates and try to make the situation comfortable for everyone. Some tips to consider: schedule your longer prayers when your roommate is out of the room so that you can pray openly and enter deeper into the spirit in the prayer, and get up earlier or sleep later so that you can offer thanks before and after your day.

Even so, there will come a time when we must face our fears and pray before our roommates. Whether it is before we sleep, before a meal, or in times of great distress, we cannot put aside or postpone our prayers because prayer is simply vital to our spiritual survival.

Some people may not understand, others may be curious, but they will come to respect it as our way of living out our Christian faith. God will also see the desire in our heart to pray to Him and will open a way so that we have the opportunity to talk to Him heart to heart. He has already promised He will be with us in our lives. It is now up to us to respond and accept His offer.

Hear Him calling to us today:

            Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10)

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