Gateway chapel speaker emphasized priority of prayer

By Anna Bewster, Assistant Faith Editor

“Like exercise, dieting and flossing, we know it’s important, but it’s hard to get there and do it like we want to.”

These words were used by Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, to describe prayer in chapel Wednesday, March 29.

Iorg continued with the chapel series this year on prayer, focusing on 2 Thessalonians 3:1-6 as a key passage.

He emphasized the priority of prayer and explained how to do it in two parts: ask others to pray for you, and pray for others.

When he first became a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1994 – the youngest at the time – Iorg knew he needed people to pray for him.

He began writing a column in the monthly newspaper and in one issue he asked who had already been praying for him.

Out of thousands of readers, about 30 had already been praying for him and responded to the column. One 88-year-old man wrote a letter saying, “I saw the picture of you and your family and thought ‘that young man needs prayer.’”

“Those [30] people became my prayer team, and they pray for me every single day, and have prayed for me for the last 22 years,” Iorg said.

“Since 1995, I have written a two-page prayer letter and sent it to the people on my prayer team.”

Iorg encouraged OBU students to find others that would pray for them, even if it’s just two or three people.

“Find some people you know love you that will pray for you. You only get that if you ask them to pray for you and facilitate it,” he said.

Iorg shared three ways to pray for others more effectively:

1) “Set a time for it to happen. We do it with other things – why not prayer? Set a time so you show up to do it.”

2) “Go to a place.”

3) “Get a partner – my prayer partner and I still have a close relationship today, 35 years later.”

Emmalee Ewbank, sophomore worship arts major, sang with David’s Creed before Iorg stepped on stage. Later, she reflected on what he had said.

“I really valued what he had to say, especially because God is really teaching me all about prayer right now,” Ewbank said.

“Basically, every chapel is reiterating what I’ve been learning. Praying for others is investing in the community and God calls us to be in community.”

Even though he was able to give advice on prayer to the chapel audience, Iorg learned most lessons about prayer through trial-and-error, he said.

“Growing in prayer has been a life-long struggle for me,” Iorg said.

“It has not been an easy part of my spiritual growth.”

After growing up in a secular family, Iorg become a Christian at age 13. Since then, God has used him in many ways.

He attended both Midwestern Seminary and Southwestern Seminary, and planted churches throughout the United States.

He began teaching as an adjunct at Gateway (then Golden Gate) Seminary in 1991.

“Over the years, I developed a stronger relationship to the seminary by working with them on many projects,” Iorg said.

“In 2004, when the former president retired, the Board wanted a president with a proven track record of ministry leadership in the West.  They contacted me, and after an extensive process, we all agreed God was leading me to be the President.”

As president of Gateway Seminary for the last 13 years, Iorg would love to see  more OBU students attend after graduating.

“I think OBU is a tremendous school,” he said.

“If any OBU graduate wants to continue their studies by doing graduate work outside the Bible Belt – come to Gateway.  Many OBU students have already made that decision over the years and we welcome more to come out West.”

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