Prayer tent organizers explain annual tradition

Since its beginning five years ago, mystery and misunderstanding have shrouded Calvin’s prayer tent on Commons Lawn, with students wondering what’s inside those foreboding flaps each year during finals season.

Inside, though, it is far less intimidating. Filled with rugs, blankets, pillows, and string lights, the organizers hope to create a space that welcomes students to worship and celebrate God in unity.

“The tent is meant to be the center,” said senior Kayla McLean, this year’s prayer tent organizer. “Our hope this year is that it is a week of people thinking about how to love others intentionally and love God.”

The purpose is to equip students with a place to worship God in whatever way they feel called, whether it’s walking, writing, dancing, drawing or even just sitting and basking in God’s presence. Each year, the tent is open twenty-four hours a day during finals week to allow people to meet God whenever God calls them, even at two in the morning.

Although most of the activities within the tent are self-directed, the prayer tent will be hosting a movement-based meditation on Thursday at 4 p.m., as well as a worship night later that evening. Students are welcome to bring a group of friends or come alone and worship.

This year, the tent will focus on a posture of celebration, lifting up different aspects of Calvin each day. The themes are: live (Tuesday), study (Wednesday), move (Thursday), replenish (Friday) and play (Saturday). Each day emphasizes a different place at Calvin, from the dining halls and dorms to the academic buildings and Commons Lawn.

For students unsure of what to do within the tent, McLean suggested “examining where your heart is at with God and with people, and inviting God to speak to you.” McLean also recommends going through the Lord’s Prayer and finding a rhythm of giving thanks.

Though the tent may look intimidating, it’s open and welcome to all – no matter your walk in life or faith journey. “Sometimes,” McLean reflected, “the way God invites us to meet with God feels uncomfortable at first. But, the more I did, the more I saw God was alive and living in me.”