7 Keys to Praying for Your College Student: A Father/Daughter Perspective
The following blog is written by our CMR student worker Ashlee Kyser, and her father, Pastor Matt Kyser.
MATT: When sending Ashlee off to school at Biola University her freshman year, I remember her looking back at me with a sly but sobering smile and saying, “This is going to be sanctifying for the both of us.”
This is now Ashlee’s final semester of her senior year. Come December, I will have two Biola graduates and can attest that it indeed has been sanctifying for all of us.
Having grown children presents an exciting, yet challenging, new dynamic of relating more and more as both parent and spiritual friend. Growing in spiritual friendship with our adult children means learning more about their lives, their struggles, their passions, and their pain, while no longer being as close and accessible as we might wish. This is a sanctifying process for all of us, and it should bring us to our knees to pray for our grown children as both parents and spiritual friends.
ASHLEE: Anticipating the arrival of my senior year at Biola, and with my Dad having learned so much by having two daughters go through college, we wanted to share with you our approach to The Lord’s Prayer to help you pray both for and with your child as they live and study at school. We have found this model helpful in our individual prayer lives, our family, as well as in our church and Christian communities we live in.
But before we share the model, why are we using the Lord’s Prayer?
MATT: The Lord’s Prayer is without a doubt the most influential prayer in the history of the Church. However, along with its influence comes some irony in our practice of it.
The most ironic thing about The Lord’s Prayer is that we most often limit it to praying or reciting it with others in public, while Jesus meant for us to pray it by ourselves, in private – “go into your room and shut the door…” (Matthew 6:6)
Another ironic reality about The Lord’s Prayer is that many Christians see it as an optional way of praying when Jesus actually seems to commend it as the optimal way of praying – “Pray like this…” (Matthew 6:9). Notwithstanding the irony, The Lord’s Prayer offers us a truly inspired model and method for prayer for our students, straight from the mouth of Jesus:
1. Begin with the right PERSPECTIVE
“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
When we pray for our students, we want to pray with the right perspective of who God is and how that informs who we (and they) are. When we pray with the right perspective, we are acknowledging that God is sovereign and good. When you pray for your child, consider opening with something like this…
“Lord, I thank You that You are our perfect and sovereign Father. I pray that You would remind my son/daughter of this truth and make Your glory known to them, that they would walk in the confidence that they are Yours.”
2. Lift up PRAISE
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
When we start with the right perspective of knowing who God is, we are naturally prompted to praise Him. Our prayers should be guided by praising Him for gifting us with that which we are bringing to Him in prayer. When you pray for your child, consider lifting up praise with something like this…
“Lord, I praise You for the gift of mother/fatherhood. I praise You for the gift of my family and the opportunity we have to display Your love to each other. I praise You for Your provision in allowing my son/daughter to attend Biola (or your child’s school), and the ways You are using it to sanctify them.”
3. Recognize God’s POWER
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
When we pray out of a heart of praise to a Holy God, next we acknowledge His power. Before we make any requests, we can rest in His power and authority and pray with confidence that His power overcomes all. When you pray for your child, consider something like this…
“Lord, You are awesome and mighty, powerful are Your ways. You are at work in my child’s life and powerfully using them for Your kingdom. I pray Your power is displayed through my child's life, and that they would grow in their understanding of how powerful You are.”
4. Focus On God’s PURPOSES
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
When we pray out of a heart of praise, knowing who God is and how powerful He is, we eliminate the temptation to pray selfishly, and our hearts are positioned to pray for His purposes and not our own. When you pray for your child, consider asking for God’s will with something like this…
“Lord, my heart desires flourishing for my child. May Your purposes be accomplished through them. Soften my heart, as well as theirs, to the outworking of Your purposes, and build in them a desire to surrender to Your will. Make known to them that You alone know what’s best for them.”
5. Ask For God’s PROVISION
“Give us this day our daily bread …” (Matthew 6:11)
When we submit to the Lord’s will in prayer, we are simultaneously dependent on His provision to empower us. God not only knows what is best for us, but He is also gracious in giving and withholding what we need/don’t need, when we need it. When you pray for your child, consider asking for His provision like this...
“Lord, You are gracious and merciful. I pray that as You provided for my son/daughter to attend college, that You would continue providing for them as they journey through college. Would You give them the discernment and peace they need, and would You give me the wisdom I need to pray for them?”
6. Ask For God’s PARDON
“… and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
When we pray to a powerful God who provides for us and uses us for His purposes, we are reminded of our need to confess the ways we desire our purposes above His. Even when lifting up our children we need to ask for forgiveness. Consider something like this…
“Lord, forgive me for any ways I have neglected Your will for my child. Remove any desires in me to control the outcome of their college experience and empower me to surrender them to you. Forgive me of any selfish ambition in praying for them, and remind me that they are first and foremost Your child.”
7. Ask For God’s PROTECTION
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)
When we pray to the Lord, we do so in confidence that His purposes, provisions, and pardons are meant to protect us. When praying for protection over your child, consider something like this…
“Lord, protect my son/daughter from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. You know the depths of their needs, struggles, and temptations. Protect them first from themselves and the temptations of their hearts, and then also from the sins and temptations of others. Preserve them for Your glory. Amen.”
ASHLEE: Knowing this model is prayed over and for me each day brings me great joy and comfort. Learning and praying through The Lord’s prayer with my dad has only grown my understanding of the power of prayer and simultaneously brought us closer. I have only grown in confidence and gratitude for the protections and provisions in my life, knowing they are a direct result of fervent and specific prayer.
MATT & ASHLEE: We hope you found this model helpful and that you are able to implement it into your daily prayer for and with your children! May it transform your prayer life, not because we suggest it, but because we have found joy in following Jesus’ model for prayer.
Matt is a follower of Jesus, husband of 27 years to Dina and father to Mandie, Ashlee, and Luke. He is the Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Irvine, CA. Matt also serves as the Founder of Restor Renewal Ministry, helping to renew pastors and revitalize the churches they lead, and Founder of The Restor Group, which helps churches re-imagine their real estate solutions to realize their God-given vision. Matt is also a former adjunct professor at Talbot School of Theology. He enjoys having fun with his family, being active outdoors, and encouraging others.
Ashlee is a senior Communication Studies major at Biola. She is also the Communications and Marketing Manager for Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships (CMR). Before working at Biola, Ashlee spent time working in Washington D.C. for Susan B. Anthony List where she discovered her love for nonprofit work. Ashlee is involved in her local church community where she serves in youth ministry at The Village Church of Irvine. When not working or in school, Ashlee spends her free time enjoying the outdoors with her friends and family.