After receiving an offer to study music at the University of Nottingham, I was over the moon. I’m excited to study something that I’m so passionate about, but I’m more excited about what God is going to do in and through others and I, to impact the campus.
I firmly believe that if a prayer makes you feel out of your depth, you should pray it - when reading scriptures, I don’t see one time when the disciples felt perfectly comfortable! When we are out of our depth, it gives God the chance to show others that it’s his strength working in us, and not our own. We should be praying radical, uncomfortable prayers, trusting that God is with us and we are always, eternally safe with him.
Here are 5 scary prayers to pray during your time at college.
1) Pray for opposition
As crazy as it sounds, pray to meet people who are in direct opposition to what you believe. Why not pray that you’ll be living with these people?
Why do I say this? Surely that’s a ridiculous thing to be praying? What if it causes you to question your own faith?
In my experience, I’ve found that when people are opposed to what I believe, it actually makes me run faster and with more passion towards the Cross. There’s something about encountering opposition; it makes you truly look at what you believe because suddenly you’re faced with different options. We shouldn’t be afraid of the times when we question God and our faith in him - we should use these times as opportunities to learn more about him and to grow closer to him.
And, of course, you never know who will end up giving their life to Jesus. Never look at someone and rule him or her out because they seem ‘too far gone.’ No one is ever ‘too far gone’ or ‘too far away’ for Jesus to radically change their lives forever.
2) Pray for questioning
As a follow up to point number one, praying for people to ask you questions is not only beneficial to your own faith but to the people asking the questions. Similar to when people are opposed to your beliefs, we should look at questions as an opportunity to learn more about God rather than an opportunity to lose our faith. Even though bouts of questioning can be scary, we should learn how to welcome them more. When I look back on my journey with God, the times where both others and I have been asking questions are the times when I’ve grown the most.
As a practical tip for when someone asks questions about Jesus, don’t immediately jump on the debating bandwagon. Debating with people usually doesn’t draw them closer to the truth about God; it just creates more division and confusion. Instead, really listen to the heart of their question - they may actually need to hear about their loving Father who keeps no records of their wrongs when they give their life to Jesus, but this is covered up in a question that feels like they’re trying to disprove you. Just be open and honest and tell of the life-changing impact that Jesus has had on your life. When people see that Jesus really does change people’s lives, the tables turn because suddenly he’s a lot more real than they first realized.
3) Pray to be out of your depth
“Okay, Alice, this really is a stupid one. Why would I want to pray to feel totally out of control and like I’m about to go under?!”
…because that way, God’s strength is able to shine even brighter.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says that God’s ‘power is made perfect in [our] weakness.’ This means that when we feel like our world is crumbling around us, when we feel like everything is unravelling in front of our eyes and there’s nothing we can do to stop it, when we feel like everything is going against us, when we feel like we’re drowning in the sea of life, that’s when God’s power is made perfect. What?!
Yet again, when I look back on my walk with Jesus so far, the moments when God has done some of the most incredible things in me have been the moments when at the time I felt like I couldn’t cope, like, at all. And the truth is, I couldn’t. And that’s when Jesus gets to shine his light the brightest.
Don’t be afraid to be out of your depth. Of course, I’m not asking you to pray for things to go wrong in your life, but maybe you need to let go of control and trust that God knows best and that we don’t need to hold tightly on to our own schedules and plans and ideals. Free falling with Jesus is the most terrifying yet exhilarating thing I have ever experienced, and I totally recommend it.
4) Pray for doors to open (and close)
Whilst I understand that God does give us choice in our lives with regards to what direction to go in or which path to take, I often ask him to open up doors of opportunity that could never have been opened by anyone else and to slam doors shut in my face if that path is going to harm me and my relationship with him. Again, it’s all about surrendering control. This is something I’m still learning to do daily, but the more I do it the more I realize that it’s totally worth it.
Ask God to swing wide the doors of opportunity that you could have never opened on your own. Pray that you will miraculously bump into people who you can disciple and mentor (or who can disciple and mentor you). Pray that you’ll be situated somewhere where there are people who really need to hear your testimony because they’re going through exactly the same situation as you once were. But don’t forget that sometimes, when God opens doors with incredible prospects behind them, it might look different to what we expected.
The same goes when praying for doors to slam shut. Far too often I have prayed that prayer and then got angry with God when a door slammed in my face and hurt my nose (maybe I shouldn’t have been so persistent with trying to walk through it, and I wouldn’t have a sore nose). Sure, it might hurt at the time, but we know that ultimately God knows best. And he still gives us a choice. Make sure that if a door has been closed, you think carefully about trying to open it again.
5) Pray for the campus to tremble
I recently went to a national Christian festival, full of teaching, ministry, and worship (as well as great food and social events, of course). One of the speakers made the following incredibly powerful statement:
“We shouldn’t be scared that the university world will take us and our faith with it. No; the campus SHAKES when you step on the scene.”
Miriam made the point that we often treat holiness like a pair of bright white jeans. We’re afraid to go anywhere in case the jeans get dirty. But for the first time ever, all because of Jesus, the dirty doesn’t infect the clean; the clean infects the dirty. Holiness is more like powerful bleach. And you don’t keep bleach in the cupboard when there are things that need to be cleaned up. You go to the dirty places and infect them with the bright, powerful bleach.
It’s time that we reclaimed holiness. The word ‘holy’ has so many negative connotations attached to it. But in reality, true holiness at its heart is not a list of dos and don'ts. We don’t need to rename holiness; we need to reclaim it. We need to say to the campus, “This can look remarkably different with Jesus.” We need to show those who don’t know Jesus another option (Jesus himself) because the world’s options are pretty bleak. We’re seeing more death, destruction, and depression than ever before. 2016 could easily be used as a trailer for a movie about the end of the world, what with the amount of mass murders, political failures, and hatred.
The world needs us to be dangerously alive for Christ. Being nice people with nice manners isn’t going to cut it for the days ahead. In Jesus’ Kingdom, ‘holy huddles’ don’t exist. You send the doctors to the sick, not keep them in a huddle talking about medicine. We need to go viral with the Kingdom of God. We need to spread the rumor of what Jesus is doing. It is more mind-blowing than we could ever comprehend, and the world needs to hear about it.
If you had no fear, where would you go and what would you do?
Now, what if I told you that the fear you are feeling is only a small portion of the fear the enemy is feeling at the prospect of you stepping out and being radically on fire for Jesus, leading people to him, seeing the captive set free and the lost found and the sick healed?
What if you realized that when you step onto campus, it shakes and trembles because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within you?
What if followers of Jesus across the world stepped up, full of confidence in Christ, knowing their true identity in him and knowing that nothing can shake away their inheritance?
So…let’s go. Let’s be dangerously holy for the Kingdom of Christ.
Alice is 18 and from England. She gave her life to Jesus about 5 years ago, and was baptized in July 2015. She feels that she is called to creative evangelism after receiving many prophecies from various people. She's a keen musician, photographer, writer, and speaker, and she hopes to involve all of these passions when sharing the love of Jesus to the world. She looks forward to moving to a city to attend university, engrossing herself in youth culture and wider communities.