Prayer at a Catholic University

What is the point of prayer at a Catholic University?  Why do we have a formal Australian Catholic University prayer? And why is our new Chancellor launching the inaugural “ACU Book of Prayer”?

As a Catholic university, ACU is called to live out and express its identity and mission in a range of different ways: through community engagement, our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, and our relationship with God in prayer. At ACU, prayer is a way of acknowledging our commitment to seek the Truth.

What is prayer?  Very simply, prayer is the raising of our minds and hearts to God. While prayer can have many dimensions, styles and levels, at its heart it is relational, a conversation with God. Authentic prayer is about seeking God’s will in our lives.

Our prayer doesn’t need to be lengthy or complicated. Rather, it should be simple, personal and from the heart. In prayer, we can give thanks for something received, or we may want to ask something of God.

What can we ask for in prayer? As a Catholic University, our prayer should help direct us towards fulfilling our mission. We can pray for anything that may bring us closer to God in our work or personal life, help our students or strengthen our service to each other. We might seek God’s will concerning an important project or decision, ask God’s blessing on an endeavour, pray for a colleague or student during a time of difficulty, or we might just want to say thank you for a good outcome.

But what if I am not Christian, or do not believe in God? As a Catholic University, all people of good will are welcomed to engage in ACU’s mission. We respect the beliefs of staff and students. This includes people from different faith backgrounds and those who do not believe. The rich diversity of ACU’s multi-faith community is reflected in the new ACU Book of Prayer, which contains a selection of prayers from other Christian and non-Christian faith traditions.

When we pray at ACU, staff members who don’t share in our Christian tradition are invited to participate by reflecting on the ways in which they are committed to the core mission values of our University. 

Prayer at ACU is integral to our identity and mission as a Catholic university. The next time you have the opportunity to join with others in prayer, especially if it’s at ACU, I hope this brief reflection will help make it a more meaningful encounter.

BIO: Robert Tonkli is currently the Acting Associate Director, Identity & Mission at ACU.  A lawyer, with more than 20 years experience in the Trade Union movement, Robert’s new passion is working with staff to deepen their understanding and engagement in ACU’s mission.

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