Pray for students in 2014
Describing our island nation of 5.312 million people, Operation World's website lists one of the greatest challenges to be: young people.
"Young people remain the most responsive segment of the population. Among under-graduates, about 35% are involved with student ministry of some kind: FES(IFES), CCCI and Navigators groups, or the growing ministries of some megachurches. But spiritual vitality appears to be cooling as young people face many challenges, such as the high demands of studying and, increasingly, worldly pleasures. Many churches struggle to remain relevant to Singapore’s fast-changing youth culture. Pray for the discipling of a new generation with ministry that is relevant, fresh and full of spiritual power."
How then should we pray for these young people, most of whom are students?
1. Pray for students who are disciples of Christ to bear fruit that will last. "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." (John 15:16 ESV)
Do you know any students by name? What they need more than anything else is to regain a purpose and mission for their lives - a purpose that has Jesus Christ at the center of it all. Pray that they will cling to Him, and so by abiding, bear fruit that will also abide.
2. Pray for students to know Jesus Christ by reading the Bible. "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3:7-8 ESV)
The only way students will come to know the meaning for which they were made is if they apply their minds to reading the Word of God concerning Jesus Christ. Like Paul, who was himself a student of Gamaliel and a training Hebrew scholar, our students will only make sense of life when they know Christ. And the only way they will know Him is if they read the word concerning Him.
3. Pray for students to reach other students with the gospel in the power of the Spirit. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, ESV)
The history of the church is full of accounts of men and women who began as evangelists in their student days - for example, the missionary-martyr Jim Eliot, who began his speaking experiences as a student, witnessing to other students with the gospel. Pray for students to be bold, brave, courageous, and that they would also develop the zeal to live not for themselves, but for the Lord. Pray that God raises up young men and women to be concerned not just for the things of the world, but for the things of God and His kingdom.
Pray for short term mission trips and other student missions efforts- that more students would attend and catch a spark for missions. Pray for evangelistic efforts with classmates, that they would also be effective for the kingdom of God.
4. Pray for students to love the Lord their God with their minds and with all their might. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." (Matthew 22:36-38, ESV)
Pray that our students will love God not only in word only, but with every bit of their being. What does it mean for a student to love God with their mind? It must mean at least honoring Him in what they think of. Is their study of Mathematics and Biology and Literature a way for them to love God? What does it mean for a student to love God with their heart? It must mean at least honoring Him with all of their emotions, delighting and desiring Him - the way the Psalmist says in Ps 42, as a deer that pants for water, so my soul longs after You, O God. What does it mean for a student to love God with their strength? It must mean at least loving God on the soccer field, or in the gym, or in their training. Might it also mean loving Him with sexual purity and a sanctified relationship with others? Pray for students to love God with everything they have.
Pray that our church's worship services would be relevant and engaging for students and young people. Pray that parents will disciple their children well and love them well, setting good and godly examples for them to follow.
5. Pray for students to honor God by resisting and fighting sin in every way. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 2 Tim 2:22 (ESV)
When the great Charles and John Wesley were students in Oxford, they started up the now-famous Holy Club, where as students, they would ask each other difficult questions about whether they were falling into habits of sin, lust and other evils, so that they would keep one another accountable and pure of heart. Pray that our students, like the Wesleys, would flee sin, and not tolerate it loosely. Pray that they would honor Christ with their bodies and not fall prey to temptation. Pray that their hearts would also be pure - and that more 'respectable sins' would not take over them either - sins like pride and arrogance or even others like worldliness and materialism. Pray that laziness and worldly pleasure-seeking, gossip and hatred, envy and greed, anger and bitterness, self-centeredness and godlessness would not take hold of them either.
6. Pray for students to transform their communities and families through humble service and setting and example. "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." 1 Pet 4:12 (ESV)
Paul urges young Timothy not to allow his youth to become a barrier for his good Christian example, something that all disciples of Christ ought to take seriously. Pray for our young people that they will be used mightily by God to inspire and impact their families and all they interact with, bringing not just moral examples, but the grace and kindness of Jesus to a world of sinners. Pray for them to not become cynical and lose heart but always to love. Pray for them not to become self-righteous or do things in their own strength, but to have faith and trust God's ways are best. Pray for them to be pure and not tainted by sin that so easily entangles.
As the young people meet for biweekly care groups, pray that they will encourage one another rightly as the Spirit of God speaks to them and ministers to them. Pray that they will spur one another on to love and good deads.
7. Pray for students to be of Christlike character - teachable and gracious in humility. A large part of student life is the moulding and shaping of character - character that will come to inform their destiny and the rest of their lives. How then should we pray for these miliennials? Pray for their generation to be a generation of deep humility, eager to learn from the Word of God and those around them, resisting worldly pride and self-righteousness that is so common.
Exam release dates are a great time remember students in prayer. As the GCE O Level Results were released on the 13 Jan, the A Level results come out in March, the PSLE results are out as well, and the polytechnics and ITEs enter into another semester, pray for our students, think of them, and love them with the love that Christ has for His church.