Lancaster’s chapel encourages honest prayer

Assistant Vice President for University Ministries Dan Lancaster, pictured here in 2015, spoke in chapel Friday about how to pray honestly. |Photo by Sol Bee Park.

Dan Lancaster, assistant vice president of university ministries, gave a stirring message about prayer during Friday’s chapel as part of the official launch of GO month, an annual event University Ministries hosts to focus on the work of God from both a local and global missions perspective.

Having spent over a decade ministering to pastors in Southeast Asia as a missionary, Lancaster could have endlessly shared his personal experiences with the students. However, he started his prayer message by encouraging the students with one simple statement.

“God really likes you, and loves to be with you,” he said.

Lancaster told the students that his goal wasn’t to make them feel guilty about their prayer life. Instead, he wanted them to understand how much God desires to listen to them. Then he began to walk through an acronym of the word pray.

For the first letter, Lancaster started with the idea of praise in order to emphasize the importance of thanking God for who He is and the work that He has accomplished; but that’s not all he did. He invited the students to participate in the physical act of prayer with their hands.

“I’m the hand motions guy,” Lancaster humorously added.

Lancaster encouraged the student body to raise both hands in a posture of prayer while each person told their praises to God out loud. Suddenly, the chapel was filled with words of adoration and thanksgiving. The community was worshiping together.

After a few moments of praying, Lancaster closed the prayer and shifted his focus to the letter r, which stood for repent. He reminded the students that God hears them even as lowly and broken individuals who may feel insecure about their sin.

Lancaster explained, “Repenting is really just being honest with God.”

The students were then invited to pray silently for the second time while stretching out their hands away as if pushing aside their sin. Afterwards, he moved to the third letter of the acronym, which represented the word ask.

“Sometimes you have to keep asking,” Lancaster said. “Really ask God fervently for the things you need.”

Lancaster added that it wasn’t enough to simply ask things from the Lord without being obedient to His calling. He then transitioned to the concept of yielding, the last word of the acronym.

With this in mind, Lancaster stressed to the students that they only had two options left after going through the first three stages of prayer.

“We’ve got a choice,” Lancaster said. “Yes or no.”

Lancaster finally invited the students to use an Asian posture by putting both hands folded together on their foreheads as a sign of submission to God. The student body prayed together as a community for one last time. Then Lancaster wrapped up his message by reminding the students of the beauty of praying for other people, especially those from different nations. He encouraged them to remember the urgent need for the gospel to be heard throughout the world.

Julie Bradfield, director of student mobilization for University Ministries, said she shares Lancaster’s passion and hopes that during this month, students will realize the ministry opportunities God provides through GO trips. One of Bradfield’s responsibilities is equipping students with the right tools and training to enter the mission field.

“I feel like the Lord has clarified to me that my role is to prepare, equip, and nurture others to take the next step in the ministry,” Bradfield said.

She is aware that many students already have experiences from past mission trips and may overlook their need for further training. However, she hopes that students will learn to value the training and not just the experience.

Union will continually host GO chapels throughout the month of September. The student body will also have the opportunity of praying for a specific nation each week through weekly prayer guides.





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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.