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Hopkins challenges us to be ‘praying disciples’ at Holy Week chapel

During Campbellsville University’s recent Holy Week chapel, Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of the university, challenged everyone to make prayer a regular custom in their life. (Campbellsville University Photo by Leinner Corrales)

By Gerard Flanagan, news writer and photographer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – One day recently, Dr. Joseph Hopkins was speaking to someone he considers a mentor.

During that conversation, the mentor posed this question to Hopkins: Are you a disciple who prays, or are you a praying disciple?

Campbellsville University celebrated its annual Holy Week chapel April 5 in Ransdell Chapel, with Hopkins, president of the university, speaking about the importance of prayer.

“You get the implication the disciple who prays is the one who shows up sometimes to pray,” Hopkins said. “That disciple who has irregular rhythms and sometimes shows up to pray, probably most often when there’s a need.”

“But then there’s the disciple who’s a praying disciple, and the challenge was, would I be that praying disciple?”

Over Christmas break, the Hopkins family traveled to Israel, paying a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed as His crucifixion drew near. Jesus’ prayers and subsequent betrayal by Judas at Gethsemane are recorded in all four Gospels.

Hopkins read from Mark’s account, focusing on verses 32-42. Verses 35-36 state, “And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”

Mark 14:35 says Jesus fell to the ground, detailing the great anguish He felt. Luke’s Gospel tells us Jesus sweat blood because of His anguish, a rare medical condition known as hematidrosis.

In sharing lessons, we can learn from Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer; Hopkins noted prayer was Jesus’ custom, as stated in Luke 22:39.

“Have you set aside a special time to pray, maybe in the morning, maybe during the day, maybe before the day ends?” Hopkins asked. “I want to challenge you to make prayer a custom.”

The Garden of Gethsemane was Jesus’ usual place of prayer, and others would know where to find Him, according to John 18:2.

Hopkins asked, “If someone were looking to find you praying, would they know where to find you? Jesus was so consistent in His prayer life, they knew right where He would be.”

Jesus’ prayer was a prayer of submission.

“The Son of God, before His Father God, has a submissive posture,” Hopkins stated, as he read from Luke 22:39 and Mark 14:36. “How much more should I have a submissive position when I come to God? A submissive position begins with the heart.”

Hopkins asked if we had ever prayed to God, and He answered our prayer in a way we didn’t expect.

“They’re answered in God’s Will…He says, ‘I have something better for you,’” Hopkins said. “He says, ‘I have something in my kingdom purpose that’s different.’”

Jesus’ prayers were built on a strong relationship with God, and consistent prayer draws us closer to God. Hopkins read Mark 14:39: “And again [Jesus] went away and prayed, saying the same words.”

“Why do we keep praying the same words to God, over and over?” Hopkins asked. “Didn’t He hear us the first time?”

Hopkins shared that after he and his wife, Suzanne, the first lady of Campbellsville University, were married, they had no children for 11 years.

“Eleven years, I prayed for children,” Hopkins said. “Early on in that time, it was about year two or three of marriage, God answered that prayer very clearly for me, and He said, ‘You’re going to have children.’ I claimed that promise.”

Hopkins said he didn’t know what that meant, and he continued to go back to God, kneeling beside his bed every night in prayer.

In his prayers, Hopkins would say, “I’m working with You here, God, but as far as I can tell, we don’t have children yet. I’m trusting in You, but I wanted You to know I’m struggling, and I wanted You to know this is difficult.”

In year 11 of their marriage, Hopkins said, “We were given the beautiful gift of adoption,” as they welcomed their first son, Joseph, into the family.

Two years later, the Hopkins family received the “miracle of adoption” again, welcoming their second son, Vance, to the family.

“God was true to His promise for children,” Hopkins noted. “Here’s what’s happened: Through those times of prayer, God worked in my life, and there was a relationship that began to form between God and me.”

Jesus’ prayers also involved action, Hopkins noted.

“There is a time for repetition, but there’s also a time to get up and act on what God said,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins closed by recounting a visit to the Church of All Nations, located next to Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. There, kneeling at the altar with Suzanne, he prayed God would do an incredible and mighty work in his family and through Campbellsville University.

“God has already answered those prayers,” Hopkins said, “but I’m still praying day after day, night after night. I’ve claimed His promise, and I know He will answer. I’m still struggling a little bit with human impatience, but meanwhile, the relationship is building.”

Hopkins closed by saying, “Abba Father meets me in my prayers. He hears the cries of my heart, and He longs for me to know Him as He knows me, to love Him as He loves me.”

After speaking, Hopkins played a self-composed piece on the piano, accompanied by Jamie Lawrence, executive director of ministry and church outreach. Dr. Tony Cunha, dean of the School of Music and chair of the Department of Art and Design, led the University Chorale in singing “Were You There.” He also led the audience in singing “In Christ Alone.”

The Reuben and Jewel Robertson Worship Endowment sponsors the Holy Week chapel at Campbellsville University. The Robertson Worship Endowment was established “to help the people of God gather to understand the authenticity and vitality of worship,” according to Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology, who welcomed everyone to the Holy Week chapel.

Jermaine Moore, senior from Valley Station, Ky., led a prayer during the service.

Madeline Norman, junior from Campbellsville, Ky., read from Psalm 51. Luis Castillo, sophomore from Liberty, Ky., read from Luke 22:39-46.

Jordan Proctor, senior from Lebanon, Ky., gave the benediction.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that offers over 100 programs including doctoral, master, bachelor, associate and certificate programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.