Focus Week Chapel Prayer
February 2, 2007
When I considered praying for our school in the context of Focus Week, Samson came to mind. Samson made a strange savior of Israel: strong, talented, anointed, impulsive, cocky, and with a heart for the world that was genuine but not always pure.
I thank you for the marvelous people of Westmont College. From its birth you have blessed this place with a vision and with gifts to realize it. We have struggled over the years, but always with the conviction that your Spirit has been with us.
Samson’s uncut hair was his strength. This week, as we focus on so many opportunities we have to share the joy of the coming of your kingdom, I pray that you would grow our hair. Grow our endowment. Bring students, staff, faculty, and administrators whose many different talents and perspectives will strengthen us. Improve our teaching and our learning. Build us up on athletic fields, in studios, and in practice rooms. Make the Master Plan a reality. Bring a president to lead us. Give us hypotheses to test and ideas to develop in our research.
Discipline us too, Father. Rein in the impulses for gratification and glory that get us in trouble and distort our witness to you. Strengthen us against our own lusts, against irritations and seductions that tempt us to surrender to your enemies, and against taking for granted the spiritual gifts that come from you. Make us servants in your church, not free agents.
And this is the hardest thing to pray: Don’t let us misunderstand what our hair means. In fact, if it is your will, Father, let our hair be cut. If it is your will, let our endowment, our GPAs, and our selectivity dwindle. Let our searches fail. Let our mistakes and our sins catch up with us. Deliver us to our enemies. Let us be blinded and without the insights we have loved gaining here. Let these things happen if you must, that we would learn again that you work the miracles that save the world, not us; that our hair is your gift to accomplish your purpose in your way; that you don’t need us but that we need you to be anything of worth.
Father, remind us again and again that Samson’s final deliverance came when his hair was short. Help us remember that your Son’s greatest work wasn’t his works of power, his charisma, his intelligence, or his insight into the needs of his people. It was the last prayer of these two saviors, when they looked to you as their enemies encircled them and their deaths approached, for you to see them through the storm.
Father, make these prayers our prayers. Send your Spirit to help Westmont trust you. Make us truly grateful for our strengths and all the more mindful of the needs of the weak. And whether we are strong or weak, work through us in your power to bring your kingdom to this hurting world to your eternal glory.