Prayers for a College Student: Flourishing, Favor, Shalom, and Excellence

Tomorrow I drop my oldest daughter off at the University of Pittsburgh where she’ll be a student in the Honors College to study microbiology! This morning, I spent time journaling and thinking through how I could best pray for her and her new suite-mates. If you also have a college freshman, enjoy these prayers!

First, I pray for flourishing. I pray that my daughter truly thrives. I love the verb flourish in scripture. You can see such beautiful promises through that verb that I pray all morning for Sarah. Consider Psalm 52:8 and David’s confidence about his life. He writes, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Think about Psalm 92 and the promise that the righteous will flourish. Finally, I pray the blessing from Psalm 115: “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.” Lord, will you cause our college students to truly flourish in every way–spiritually, academically, socially, emotionally, and even financially.

Next, I pray for belonging, true friendship, and favor with others. I pray for the fellowship the Holy Spirit allows us to have with others. I pray in line with 1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” I also pray that my daughter finds favor with others. Throughout scripture, we can see the Lord’s kindness as He allows people to find favor in the eyes of others (Genesis 39; Exodus 11; Nehemiah 1; Esther 2; Psalm 84; Psalm 90; Proverbs 3; Daniel 1). I conclude by praying from Psalm 5:2: “Surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Lord, will you allow our college students to find true belonging with You and then with others, true friendship, and favor with others.

Next, I pray for shalom–the sense of well-being, completeness, wholeness, and peace–to fill my daughter’s heart. I want her to feel that “all is as it should be” wherever she goes and that her environment feels right. I pray against homesickness. I pray the blessing over her that the Lord would “turn his face towards [her] and give her peace (shalom)” from Numbers 6:26. Lord, give our college students Your peace that passes understanding.

Lastly, I pray that she would become excellent in the work of her hands. I love Proverbs 22:29: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” I pray she would study “with all [her] heart as if working for the Lord” (Colossians 3). I pray from Ecclesiastes that Sarah would be happy in her work as a gift from God. I love how Solomon states that this person will “seldom reflect on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart” (Ecclesiastes 5:20). I pray from Psalm 90 this incredible prayer: “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands— yes, establish the work of our hands.” Lord, enable our college students to become excellent in their work.

I’ll remember these words for Sarah as I pack up the car: Flourishing, Favor, Shalom, and Excellence.

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