Sometimes I get these awesome ideas. Such as, going to bed at a decent hour (NEVER happens), taking a five-minute homework break (yeah…one hour later, still having a dance party with my roommate), or driving to three different OCF events/retreats across different states in ONE weekend (for the record…it was INCREDIBLE!).

Sometimes these ideas are a bit of a stretch and can leave me questioning my judgement, but sometimes these ideas have worked out in my favor and have lead me to some of the best and most memorable experiences of my life.

Last year, one of my favorite ideas was to sign my OCF chapter up for the 3 am time slot for Day of Prayer.

Photo Credit: Alexi Kp

What is Day of Prayer? It’s a day when Orthodox Christian students join together and pray unceasingly for the first 24 hours of Great Lent. OCF chapters from all over North America sign up in advance for a one hour time slot. Then, beginning at 6 pm on Sunday and ending at 6 pm on Monday, chapters will livestream their hour of prayer so that people from all over the globe can view and participate in this spiritually-enriching experience with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

During my freshman year at school, I remember watching the Day of Prayer livestream on my computer from my dorm room. I had been frantically finishing up some homework at an absurd hour of the night. It was quiet and my roommate was asleep, but as I sat there in the light of my desk lamp, listening to the steady voices of the students reading, chanting, and singing the prayers of their hearts, I had a sense of peace come over me. I was being remembered and prayed for; I was not just another college student who felt like they had fallen below the radar of the outside world. In that moment, I was reminded that I was not alone.

Skipping to the following year, remember how I said I had this awesome idea to sign up for the 3 am time slot? Well yep, it was happening, and I managed to convince most of the members from my OCF chapter to join in on the awesomeness too.

In the dimness of the church with a faint chill running up and down the pews, our little group gathered in a semi-circle in front of the icon of Christ. We prayed the prayers, and as I looked around at my chapter, some of my closest and dearest friends gathered in one spot, I had no desire to be back in the comfort of my warm bed where I probably should have been at that hour of the night. I wanted to be there, standing side-by-side with my brothers and sisters, talking with God and thanking Him for all of the blessings in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I talk a lot. I could ramble on for hours if given the opportunity, but when it comes to talking to God, I don’t do it nearly as much as I should and as much as I would like to do.

Day of Prayer gives us that opportunity. You literally set aside one hour during your week to talk to God; to ask for forgiveness, thank Him, and give glory to Him for all things. You physically and remotely come together on the first day of Great Lent, prepared to start the journey with a clean slate, and you are not alone.

Maybe I was too jet-lagged after returning from my Real Break trip the day before to realize, but the initial grumbling of, “Rachel you signed us up for WHAT?!” later that morning turned into a collective agreement that it was so worth the effort.

Day of Prayer 2017 is from Sunday, February 26th to Monday, February 27th. Sign-ups have already begun–check it out here!

Rachel Howanetz currently serves as the Mid-Atlantic Student Leader on the Student Leadership Board. She’s a junior at Millersville University studying Early Childhood Education.