“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or what person is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? So if you, despite being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”Matthew 7:7-11 NASB
Praying for education brings to mind images of preschoolers letting go of their parents’ hand for the first time, taking those first few independent steps toward a child-sized table where they will unpack their crayons and learn the alphabet.
In the blink of an eye, those preschoolers become young adults who pack up their belongings and drive away from their parents’ home to attend higher education, whether a university, Bible college or technical college. While these students are more independent than the children bringing home coloring pages from school, they still desperately need the prayer covering of their parents, family, and other believers. It is a unique time in a young person’s life with they live, work, and recreate within walking distance of their close friends and peers, and commit serious focus on their future while laying the foundation for how they will live in their new independence.
This makes campuses a ripe harvest for the Gospel message and fertile ground for the roots of a Christ-centered life to take hold.
“College students are making decisions that set the trajectory of their life,” says Dan Allan, an executive director at Cru who leads the EveryCampus initiative. “College students are open, and they are pondering big ideas like ‘what makes life make sense?’ and ‘what is my purpose?’ It is the nature of their stage of life.”
Believers should pray for the Holy Spirit to guide students to these types of big questions—to boldly bypass the shallow distractions and wade into the deep water of deep questions.
Questions are an easy avenue for students who do not know Jesus to begin acknowledging God. When an answer isn’t easily achieved, a young person will consider things they would not have previously thought to consider, such as the validity of a creator God who loves them and gives them hope and a future. This is a critical juncture, where a Christian peer or a visit to church could speak the life-altering truth of the Gospel, and through faith, bring another precious soul from death to life in Christ.
For young people who have already professed faith, these questions are what drive them to build a strong foundation—where they create and deepen a relationship with Jesus. They can ponder their questions in thoughtful conversation with their peers, a campus ministry leader or a local pastor and spend time studying scripture and reading books from great theologians to help answer their questions.
Other students might not be ready for the ‘big questions’ of life. College, for many students, is an escape from the places and people they grew up around.
“For students who are going to college looking to ‘reinvent’ themselves, I would pray they would exercise the freedom to consider God and consider attending church,” says Allan.
College can be a fresh start to make different choices, whether good or bad, than students made when they lived at home. A student could choose to become the smartest person in the room, the best dressed, or the biggest partier. They are free from the watchful eyes of the people who raised them, and we should pray that their freedom is wielded with wisdom. Pray that students will, as Dan Allan encourages, use this freedom to seek God, because scripture promises that those who seek Him will find Him.
When students reinvent themselves, they seek a new identity. There is no GPA or number of compliments on a unique outfit that will fill the desires of the heart. Only a relationship with Christ can truly satisfy.
“We can value appearance or academic achievement, but that is not what will give us the life we long for,” says Allan. “I want students to wrestle with the real Jesus, and experience truth and grace from Christians on campus.”
For students who see college as their time to walk away from the faith they were raised in, pray they remember that the God Who Sees still sees them, still loves them, and still holds open the door for a relationship with them. These students might feel disillusioned with the faith of their parents or may have experienced great pain at the hands of a Christian. This is where Allan encourages prayers for these young people to wrestle with Jesus—the Messiah, the Christ of the scriptures. Not a made-up, storybook fairly tale, and not a God who inflicts pain.
Christian students on campus are strategically positioned to be the hands of feet of Jesus by ministering the grace of God and the truth of the Gospel to their peers who unpack their questions, dreams and pains when they get to college, right alongside their suitcases and laptops.
Praying for college campuses throws open the doors of heaven for God’s glory to pour out and ignite these young souls for the Kingdom of God.
“If we are trusting God for awakening, it begins with prayer,” says Allan.
Through the last six years praying for college students and engaging in their campus lives, the Lord has given Allan great insight into praying strategically. The goal of EveryCampus is to have every campus in the United States prayer-walked, and see a Gospel community planted. Through partnerships with the National Day of Prayer Task Force and other prayer movements, every U.S. college campus has had Christians praying on site over the last two years!
Now, Allan and his team are moving to equip college-aged believers to be missionaries on their campuses to establish Christian communities and partner with local churches.
“I see these Christian students living sacrificially to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, because He is better than anything in the world,” said Allan. “I know students who have moved back into the dorms to live on mission, and international students who are excited to go back to their home countries as missionaries.”
This week I have spent time on Facetime with my sister-in-law, who just went off to start her freshman year of college. As I pause to pray, I’m picturing her face and the faces of her friends who are beginning their college careers as well. Ask God who you can picture and pray for—is it a young person from church? A family member? The teenager or twenty something who bagged your groceries this summer? A grandchild’s babysitter?
Heavenly Father, You bring all things to fullness and maturity in your time. Like a seed planted in the ground, I pray these young people, who grow up so quickly, will have deep roots that connect them to the living water of Your Holy Spirit. Lord, use the students’ new experiences of college, in classrooms, dorms and gyms to cultivate a curiosity about their Heavenly Father. Give them the tenacity to seek You with all of their hearts and bring strong believers into their lives to help lead them closer to You. Protect these young people from harm and guide them to make decisions that honor and glorify You. I pray this school year is a time of growth and godly glory, that campuses around the nation will stoke the fires of revival with new salvations and hearts renewed in faith.
In Jesus name, amen.
Peace and blessings,
Communications Coordinator, National Day of Prayer Task Force