The end of August is a transitional time for the many families preparing to send children off to college. I serve on the board of directors for a national Christian fraternity because I have a special place in my heart for the college-aged man and woman. I personally try to visit my alma mater whenever I can. It’s one of the most meaningful places to me—a tangible reminder of a time in my life that was rich with discovery and possibility. I don’t go back because those were better days than the present. I go back to walk, sit, stand and remember in the place God used as a pivotal season for growing me into who He made me to be.
Because I know how formative a time it is and because I still have a window into what college is like today, I want to share with you some ways to pray for our students as they head off to campus.
Pray for Perspective
College is a time ripe with possibilities, both good and bad. I hear far too frequently of students who walk onto campus following Christ but walk away four years later denying Him, often because they were confused by secular philosophy.
Pray for our students to have courage, wisdom and discernment when professors and classmates introduce a plethora of perspectives, many of which are vehemently anti-Christian. Pray they will not hide from new ideas but will see this as an opportunity to become better equipped to defend their faith. Pray that they might reclaim the public space of college for intellectual honesty, fueled with the perspective that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.
Pray for Professors
Perhaps, next to our parents, our teachers shape us most. So it is crucial that the college students understand exactly who it is they may be studying under. Part of cultivating the whole person is to be inspired by timeless language and truths that speak across the ages. The best professors do this, but they are few and far between. Students will encounter many professors and employers who hold no respect for persons of faith during these worldview-shaping years. I remember in the early 2000s being mocked by professors in my “tolerant” journalism college.
Pray for the professors who will teach our next generation. Pray they will have their minds conformed to Christ, that genuine tolerance will be granted to the Christian in the halls of learning. Pray that our own Christian students might be given courage and be used by God to make a bold witness in and out of the classroom.
Pray for Friendships
Because college is a social leveler for many, students tend to have a great vulnerability and desire to form friendships. For many students, the friends they make in college will be the ones who stand beside them in wedding ceremonies, who they will turn to as the realities of adulthood settle in and whom they are most likely to call their “lifelong friends.”
Pray that God would surround our students with loyal, intimate and God-honoring friendships during their college years. May the fervor of their friendships be for Christ and His kingdom purposes, on and beyond their campus.
Pray for a Church Home
Far too many students forsake the church during their college years, often because they know their stay is temporary—here today and gone tomorrow. And too many churches forsake college students for this same reason. These are young men and women in a pivotal season. Their potential to be unleashed for kingdom work is perhaps greater now than at any other stage of life.
Pray that churches near college campuses will value and equip college students. Pray that students will seek out and join Bible-teaching churches, where they can actively worship and serve for as long as the Lord has them there.
The End of the Teen Years
The years immediately following high school will look different for each of our students. Whether they go to a major public university, a local junior college or straight into the workforce, we can pray that the closing of their teen years will be a time of growth and transformation as they are shaped into who God made them to be. Pray with me for our students. May the Lord use these young saints to sow seeds in a mission field only they can traverse. Pray that when they enter the spiritual darkness of a classroom, campus or workplace, the void fills with the dazzling light of Christ, spoken and lived boldly—as it should be.