Since my arrival three months ago, there have been various all night prayers. Some are a Christian twist on the cultural traditions surrounding the death of a loved one. Others are to spend time focused on prayer for a particular topic (or multiple ones). About a month ago, some students planned an all night prayer service on campus. Because of the busyness of scheduling, it was cut short and ended at midnight (instead of 5:00a.m.).
You can read a great post about it on the ACC blog by Duncan Ojiambo, a second year student from Uganda.
I only want to share one story from the service. However, let me briefly outline the all-night prayer service. Like “prayer meetings” in the US, it included more than just prayer but lots of singing and praising (organizers made sure we sang in the native language of each student). There was preaching from students and faculty (including me). And there were public prayers and private prayers.
At one point, about 30 minutes of time was dedicated to individual prayer. Prayers could be offered silently or out loud and you could move to another spot in the room if you desired. A few did move to corners of the room and faced away from the group for their prayer. Others just scooted a little over. The sound of prayer has never been more beautiful.
No one prayed loudly, but many whispered prayers to God. All the whispers I heard were in their native languages. I have no idea what they were saying, but I listened — having to stop my prayer at the beauty of the moment — to the prayer whispers filling the room with gratitude, petition, and praise in a multitude of languages.
A powerful example of the beauty of the diversity of God’s kingdom.