Seeing a need for communal spaces for prayer on the Eastern Mennonite University campus, senior Carissa Luginbill started a Monday morning prayer meeting in Hillside Lounge. Open to all in the campus community, Pray Like No Other begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends in time for 8 a.m. classes. (Photo by Lindsey Kolb)

‘Pray Like No Other’: senior Carissa Luginbill hosts Monday morning prayer meeting open to all

Students making their way from Hillside Residence Hall on Monday mornings have an extra blessing sent their way. Carissa Luginbill, a senior social work major, greets students passing through on their way to class and wishes them well in their activities for the day.

Luginbill is the founder of “Pray Like No Other,” a 7:30 a.m. informal prayer meeting that takes place whether there’s two or 50 in attendance. The meeting, open to all in the campus community, lasts less than a half hour to accommodate those attending 8 a.m. classes.

“It’s wonderful to have student leaders offering more spaces for prayer on campus,” says campus pastor Brian Martin Burkholder. “Gatherings of this sort strengthen the campus community in direct and indirect ways. I’m always grateful for students stepping up in ministry to and with one another and there is plenty of opportunity for others to join in or begin other gatherings.”

‘In community’

On a recent rainy day, Luginbill, with fellow student leader Jolee Paden, shared prayer concerns from their lives, other students and the broader Harrisonburg community. In addition to prayer requests, they also emphasized gratitude for the potential they see in fellow students, for the abilities and opportunities they have been given, for the rain, and for “a sense of rest.”

Pray Like No Other was created, she says, because she saw few times set aside for students to pray together.

Paden, a pastoral assistant with Campus Ministries, agrees to prayer’s importance: she says prayer is a “foundation of faith,” the practice of which, in her opinion, wasn’t happening regularly enough for students.

Student leader welcomes others

“Being in community together and supporting each other more” is Luginbill’s vision for the prayer meeting. She says prayer is “a way to get to know each other on a deeper level.”

Prayer is not only an important part of the Christian faith, but “prayer with others is extremely important,” Luginbill says. Group prayer allows participants to “express our joys and concerns with one another” and “allows us to be human and realize we can’t do things alone. It helps me realize I can’t do things alone and I need to put my trust in something bigger than myself. Prayer, for me, is a way of humbling myself, asking for what I need, expressing my concerns, rejoicing in things I can’t do alone and celebrating who God is.”

Luginbill sees a link between her social work major and her leadership style: “I hadn’t seen myself as an outgoing leader. I’m more about leading by example. I like opening a space and then being there to welcome people.”

Luginbill is still considering where her education and experience may take her. She will help to lead a cross-cultural trip to Lithuania with Professor Jerry Holsopple after graduation, and is considering voluntary service. “I’m hoping as this year goes on I will gain some clarity as to what’s next,” she said.