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A Prayer for Your Students

07 Jun Student Ministry | Comments Off on A Prayer for Your Students
A Prayer for Your Students
 

And My prayer for you

One of the first summers that I was on staff here at Arrowhead, I took the staff through the book of Colossians. We didn’t get very far into the book before it started making a huge impact. The beginning of Paul’s prayer (Col. 1:9-10) thundered off the page at me. Not so much in a “Hey I should put that on a t-shirt” way, but more so in an earth-shaking foundational awareness kind of way. Ever since then, those words have become my continual prayer for our staff and volunteers.

“ …we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10, ESV)

As we’ve tried to live those words well as a ministry and a community, each phrase has seemed to take on a new level of meaning and challenge for us.

“The knowledge of His will”

God doesn’t tell you to live in Milwaukee, to have three kids (two boys and a girl), to become a doctor or even which Bible College to attend. We might like it if He did, but He reveals it in other ways. Knowing and following God’s will is a big concept for students, one that tends to be cloudy and confusing. Students will often say, “God is calling me to do this” or “I’m just trying to figure out God’s will for my life.” What they’re talking about is a specific directive from which there is no room to deviate.

But as students wrestle with the idea of God’s will, camp has been an amazing place for us as a staff to explore Scripture as it speaks about the specifics of God’s will; things like being pure of heart, working diligently, being wise with money and caring for others. It has also been a great opportunity to give wise counsel on which job to take, where to live, or perhaps why you should start with a goldfish instead of a puppy.

God’s will isn’t just a topic for Sunday School or Wednesday night’s small groups. It isn’t something that we should present as either an abstract theological construct or a narrow, predetermined tightrope.

Understanding God’s will is mostly everyday stuff.

How are you helping your students make the connection between God’s Word (what God says is His will for them) and the stuff they do on a daily basis?

“Walk in a manner worthy…”

It’s a simple and yet profound part of Paul’s prayer.

At camp we talk a lot about worship… worship as anything and everything we do to dedicate ourselves to God and sacrifice for Him (Romans 11:36-12:1). Worship as a way of having our actions, attitudes, and words reflect our highest values.

For us, walking has become a powerful picture of how we worship God all day. When we work, spend time with others, share a meal together, go for a swim, sing songs, take a nap or pray… it can be an expression of worship to God.

It’s all about the manner in which we walk throughout each day.

What is your strategy for tearing down the walls that students use to compartmentalize their lives? Teaching them to walk with God is much different than how to be a good Christian at school and at home.

“Bearing fruit”

We have some blueberry bushes in a garden here at camp. It is an unbelievable treat in the midst of our busy summer season to walk through the garden, pick and eat a few handfuls of juicy ripe blueberries. Throughout the spring and early summer, I start to wait and watch anxiously. As the bushes come out of their winter dormancy, buds start to form, and blueberries begin to emerge, transitioning from shades of green to blue.

Sometimes we forget that bearing fruit is a process and we need to celebrate the process as much as end result.

More than most people, students always seem to be in process. Their lives are full of change as they navigate different seasons of life… all jammed into a few years. Most of the time you have with your students will be spent helping them grow, and even if you’re not there to see the fully ripened fruit, what can you be doing to celebrate the process?

“Increasing in knowledge”

When Paul talks about increasing in the knowledge of God, he’s talking about two uniquely intertwined ways through which we come to know God more. The first is to follow Jesus (His teachings, His ways, His life). For us, following Jesus means increasing in our knowledge of the Scriptures, reflecting His character and priorities in the way we live out each day.

The second is to be with Jesus. This one is perhaps a bit more difficult because it requires that we slow down, pay attention and intentionally practice the presence of God. For me personally, this has been the greater challenge and one I still find myself working hard to embody. At camp, the call to be with Jesus continues to be a major focus because we live and work in an environment that makes it easy to fall towards “doing for God” and not “being with God”.

If your students took a survey, would a deep understanding of the Scriptures be at the top? Would doing much for the Kingdom rise up? How would they rate the importance of simply spending time being present in God’s presence?

As youth workers, how are we getting students to go beyond the Sunday School answers of “Read the Bible and pray” into a deeper knowledge of God that comes from knowing His Word and being with Him?

I challenge you to make Paul’s prayer your prayer for your students… and their prayer for each other. May it be not just a prayer, but a call to action as Christ-followers and disciple-makers. And I pray that you will know God’s will, walk in a manner worthy of Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increase in your knowledge of Him.

Ben Myers
Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp
Ben Myers has served as the Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp in Brackney, PA for the past 13 years. Arrowhead is a ministry committed to discipleship through its programs for adults with developmental disabilities, missions opportunities for youth groups, and mentoring of High School and College students. Ben also teaches as an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College and holds degrees from Cairn University and Baptist Bible Seminary.