Q&A with WBU President Dr. Stan Norman
Why do you want to start a prayer society for WBU, and what is its purpose?
For the past few years, I have felt a burden regarding the importance of prayer for those who follow Christ and, in particular, my own, personal prayer life. For several years, I had a growing sense of a spiritual void in my life, a void that I eventually concluded could only be filled through a stronger communion with God as expressed in prayer. For these and other reasons, I embarked on a journey to better understand what the Bible teaches on prayer and to try to improve my own practice of prayer.
As a result of this commitment, I focused a great deal of my personal reading and study on the doctrine of prayer. I read extensively on lives of followers of Jesus throughout history known for their commitment to prayer. I studied what the biblical authors taught about prayer, the prayer practices of the saints in the Bible, and especially what Jesus taught on prayer as well as His own life of prayer. These efforts not only enhanced my understanding and practice of prayer, but I was also able to share the fruit of my studies in preaching and teaching in the churches where I was invited to speak. All of these activities significantly enriched and benefited my own personal practice of prayer.
In the course of my studies, teaching, and praying, I came to an obvious but somewhat startling realization – if prayer is so important, so absolutely crucial to the faith and service of God’s people, why have we not organized and mobilized the employees, students, and friends of WBU to pray for the university and its mission? If Jesus prayed about His mission, why are we not praying more diligently and strategically for the mission of WBU? This realization brought a conviction that led me to develop a plan, and to have our Board of Trustees approve the plan, to have a university-sponsored group whose sole purpose is to pray for the mission of Williams Baptist University.
How do you expect this to impact the work of WBU?
As was true of God’s people in times past, we must be a people of Christ-focused, God-honoring, Spirit-empowered prayer. Our ability to faithfully follow Jesus is tied to our faithfulness to pray. The effectiveness of our mission is connected to our praying. To be candid, we will not as Christians in today’s world faithfully and effectively serve the Lord if we do not study His word and pray. And as this matter relates to WBU – Williams Baptist University will only faithfully fulfill the mission that God has entrusted to us through prayer. The devoted servants of God who worked and served here in the past were a people of faithful praying, and this university known as a “Child of Providence” will only move forward in the future that God has for us through prayer. Our ability to continue to be a campus of Christian purpose is directly tied to our faithfulness to pray.
What sorts of things will members pray for?
Many of the prayers in the Bible could serve as a guide for what the members of this group will pray for regarding WBU. Of course, I would want the members of the Eagles Wings Society to pray for Williams in whatever way or on whatever topic they sensed the Spirit leading them to pray. I will specifically ask, however, that all the members of the Eagles Wings Society pray for WBU in four major categories: (1) that the presence and power of God would always be manifested in and through us; (2) that the providential provision of God would sustain us in our mission; (3) that the Lord would provide and extend opportunities for the mission and influence of WBU in strategic areas of our world and culture; and (4) for the Lord to protect the mission and people of Williams Baptist University from evil and temptation.
I also envision establishing a network that facilitates direct communication with EWS members, enabling us to share prayer requests about our needs, concerns, burdens, etc. In this way, the members of the Eagles Wings Society have a real, vested involvement in and contribution to the mission of Williams Baptist University.
Involvement in this society requires a level of commitment. Who will be involved, and what are the guiding values you seek?
The Eagles Wings Society will be composed of people working on behalf of Williams Baptist University, “on their knees,” so to speak, in prayer. It is common for universities to have various types of advisory board (fundraising, advisory, athletic, etc.) – these types of groups are extremely helpful to schools. In fact, we have some of these types of groups at WBU. The Eagles Wings Society is a different type of organization. Membership in the EWS is not an honorific appointment, an award conferred, or recognition given for some type of achievement. This is a board of “working hard in prayer,” and the members of EWS must be committed to this crucial work.
The Eagles Wings Society will be composed of people who are committed to provide ongoing, strategic intercessory prayer for Williams Baptist University. This group will be charged to engage in the ministry of prayer in all its biblical expressions (intercession, supplication, confession, thanksgiving, etc.). Members must be people who will commit to a ministry of prayer that is consistent, diligent, and strategic in expression and practice, praying faithfully to our God on behalf of the people and mission of WBU. The Eagle Wings Society will include university stakeholders who have a passionate, committed interest in the people and mission of Williams Baptist University. The expectation is that the EWS members will be people who love the Lord, love the university, and are “willing to work in prayer” specifically and intentionally on behalf of WBU.
Guiding values for membership in the Eagles Wings Society will be: (1) a sincere commitment to pray for WBU; (2) a matured consistency in the spiritual discipline of prayer; (3) a sustained intensity in the expression of prayer; and (4) a willingness to pray in individual and corporate contexts.
In addition to these commitments, members of the Eagles Wings Society should embody a love for the Lord and His word as well as a demonstrate a consistent spiritual growth as disciples of Jesus Christ. Members should be faithful members in a local church and be involved in Gospel ministry both in word and deed. EWS members should exemplify the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) as well as have a compassion for others and a discretion in speech.