We love our friends at 24-7 Prayer and were so happy to have Joanna Callender write this article for CAMPUS. Have you found your rhythm yet?…
Nobody tells you that time goes faster at university, but it does seem to be true. Somehow, in 24 hours, there are lectures to attend, seminars to go to, books to read, essays to write, friends to make, meals to cook (and eat), parties to enjoy… AND sleep needs to happen at some point, too!
But before you panic about the many competing priorities screaming at you from your diary, know that you’re in good company. Jesus faced a similarly hectic lifestyle: travelling to new towns daily; often eating with new acquaintances; speaking to thousand-strong crowds; regularly hanging out with friends to share his life and heart with them. Reading through a few chapters of the Bible, you can’t help but be amazed at the always-in-motion, multi-tasking adventure that Jesus and his disciples embarked on.
Yet, right at the start of one of these accounts in the book of Luke, we read something remarkable:
“As often as possible, Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer…” (Luke 5:16)
In the midst of miracles and meals, Jesus – fully human, yet fully God – literally ran away from the people he was called to so that he could spend time communicating with his Father in prayer.
The many conflicting priorities of university life can feel overwhelming, and in this new season of juggling work, rest and play, it can be more difficult than ever to figure out how to find time for God in the process. But it’s reassuring to know that Jesus had to multi-task too, and it’s handy that the Bible provides some really practical verses to help us retain our focus on God.
REMEMBERING OUR IDENTITY
“Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
In the non-stop whirlwind of our university life, the constant, unchangeable nature of God is a grounding point for every challenge that comes against us. And just as Jesus walked and talked with God when things got busy, we are given an open invitation to come, any time of night or day, to be still in His presence.
There, in the place of stillness, we remember who we are: a child of God who is accepted, welcomed and eternally loved.
There, in the place of stillness, we remember who we are: not just John studying chemistry, or Lianna on the dance team, but each of us as a child of God who is accepted, welcomed and eternally loved. This God-given identity puts everything else into perspective.
So when Jesus withdrew as often as possible to pray, it wasn’t just out of obligation or necessity. In regularly spending time with God, Jesus was investing in his most important relationship and grounding himself in his identity. And we can do the same.
DEVELOPING RHYTHMS OF PRAYER
We all know that prayer is important, but it can be hard to factor it into a daily routine – especially when lectures are rescheduled or spontaneous socials make their way into the diary. But there are some practical things you can do to integrate prayer into your day to day:
We’ve all been created differently and that means that we connect with God best at different times. So know yourself. If you’re not a morning person, factor in some time to pray in the afternoon or evening, when you know you’ll be more awake. If you prefer spontaneous time with God throughout your day, don’t set aside hours where you’ll quickly become distracted. But, if you struggle to make it a priority, intentionally block out time in your calendar, just like you would for a seminar or coffee with a friend.
Where you pray is as important as when you pray. If you appreciate peace and rest, find somewhere quiet and out of the way to focus your heart and mind. On the other hand, if you find quiet spaces too intense, try praying in a café, on a walk, or grab some friends and encourage one another. If there’s a 24-7 Prayer room in your town or city, see if you can book in some time there to connect with God.
The beauty of prayer is that it’s communicating with God, and that means that there are so many ways to do it. We can communicate with friends in all kinds of different ways, and it’s the same with God. Pray using the Bible, by painting a picture, writing a letter, composing music or simply talking aloud.
And remember that communicating with God is a two-way conversation. Allow God to speak to you, too, by taking time to listen. God can speak through Bible verses, nature, pictures, words or through other people. Prayer doesn’t just mean sitting in a room and closing your eyes, so think outside the box and get creative.
LIVING LIKE JESUS
One of the most exciting things about prayer is that it shapes the rest of our lives. After praying, Jesus stepped into his culture and brought transformation to it – healing those who were sick, accepting those who were outcasts, teaching others about the kingdom of God.
We’re called to do the same: to transform our university cultures with the powerful, radical love of Jesus. Breathing in God’s love as we pray; breathing it back out as we live in the world.
This is the beauty and wonder of spending time in prayer. We are encouraged, inspired and equipped for everything that university throws our way by a God who loves us, who is for us, and who is at work in every part of our busy lives.
Feeling inspired to delve deeper in prayer? Check out the 24-7 Prayer students pages which contain ideas and inspiration for living as a Christian at university.