Winter Awakening: students focus on prayer
by Alex Reich, class of 2016
Each year NNU's Office of Spiritual Formation plans Winter Awakening, a three-day chapel emphasis aimed to rejuvenate the spiritual life of the entire campus. As the second semester begins moving at full speed, it is often easy to fall into a “going through the motions” mindset in faith. However, Winter Awakening this year challenged students to wake up from their doldrums and revitalize their spiritual fervor, with special attention paid to the theme of prayer.
Throughout the three-day span of Winter Awakening, Travis Whittaker—lead pastor of Mile City Church, a new church plant in Livonia, Michigan—provided the sermons. For each message, Travis used the Lord’s Prayer as the basis for teaching. Much can be learned by closely analyzing the words spoken. Too often, praying the Lord’s Prayer becomes a routine process, and this is a problem Travis believes needs to be addressed.
During the first service, Travis emphasized the need to be genuine with our prayers and not to make a spectacle. Christians are equipped with the power of prayer not to impress our Heavenly Father, but to communicate and grow more close to Him. By drawing comparisons between earthly fathers and our Heavenly Father, Travis aimed to drive home the need for authentic prayer and conversation, rather than showmanship and attempting to impress.
With each service grounded in the Lord’s Prayer, Travis successfully brought to the forefront of the students’ minds what many consider to be routine. In doing so, he helped reignite the spiritual passion on campus, and a powerful presence accompanied each sermon.
“This sermon helped reinforce the fact that you can’t please the world and please God at the same time.”Winter Awakening ended on Friday, February 5, with a powerful service as Travis spoke on the importance of being all in. To illustrate his message, Travis held a cup in each hand, one filled with coffee and one filled with soda. Each one is delicious on its own, representing respectively walking with God and engaging in sin and worldy things. People make the mistake of thinking they can enjoy each drink separately, but in reality those two aspects of life are mixed into the same cup, concocting a distasteful blend. Travis preached we must learn that we can only have one cup and be fully invested in our walks with God.
For junior global business major Anna Bryan (Meridian, Idaho), this was a particularly impactful message. She said, “I think it’s really relevant, especially at a Christian university where we can be drawn to what society expects us to do at this stage in life. This sermon helped reinforce the fact that you can’t please the world and please God at the same time.” James 4 especially stuck out to Anna, which states, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? [...] Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
By concluding his time at NNU with such powerful conviction, Travis truly awakened the collective body that makes up NNU. If Christians aren’t willing to completely give up their wordly desires, they risk becoming an enemy of God. Complete commitment is the only way to walk as close to Christ as possible, which should be something everyone desires. As we approach the end of another school year, students can find comfort in the power of prayer and better understand the importance of communication with Christ.
Photo credit: The thumbnail image used in the excerpt of this post is from Travis Whittaker's Twitter account.