By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
The journey of entering college is an exhilarating time, whether it is your freshman year or you are returning for the next semester. So many things change rapidly, and there are so many options for spending your time and what to give your attention to. Many students struggle to know how they as Christians, can stay close to the Lord in college.
1. Morning and Night Routine
Each of us has a rhythm of getting ready for bed and preparing for our day the next morning. Both hold a sacred and special personal time that provides the perfect opportunity for quiet time with the Lord. Typically waking up in the morning or preparing for bed are times when our hearts and minds are shifting focus and becoming ready for what is next. When we give our attention to the Lord during these times, we invite Him into life's rhythm. Whether it is time spent reading a small section of the Bible, or time spent in contemplative prayer, there is that connection with the Holy Spirit that we are entering into. It is there that we can ignore the distractions around us and give God our full attention, if even for a few minutes. It can drastically change how we approach the rest of our day or how we sleep at night when we spend time with God. Making quiet time a part of daily practices will make it a good habit to live by and grow your relationship with God in the process.
2. Small Groups
Community is a great gift in life, and how the Lord designed His Church to be. Doing life with one another can bless and benefit your walk with the Lord when you make a choice to live life with those who have also chosen to follow Christ as their personal Savior. This can look like the Small Group in a church, a Bible study on campus, or even finding Christ followers and making an effort to participate in events, activities, or the regular flow of life among them. As iron sharpens iron, so will those who love the Lord around you as you all navigate life together. It can also challenge you to seek God together in life, not strive in your own abilities. It is not good for man to be alone; we need one another to thrive, and finding a committed Small Group or community serves your walk with the Lord in more ways than one.
Finding a good home church near campus is very important. Not just for Sunday services but for engaging in life among other Christians. Small Groups, community, and biblically-based wisdom can be gained through finding a solid church. It is crucial in the effort to stay near to God in college that you find a church based on truth. When you find a church that honors God and seeks to teach truth, you can know that you are being fed substance, not fluff. Consider visiting churches in the area, and don't be afraid to ask questions while there. Ask God to help lead you to where you can be fed and serve His Kingdom through fellowship with others. There is never a replacement for a well-rooted church, and when entering into college, it can serve as a true haven for the heart.
4. Stay in Touch with Mentors
Many college students are leaving Youth Groups or Small Groups in their hometowns to venture into their next chapter. As a High School Girl's Small Group Leader, I can say firsthand that mentors and youth leaders still care deeply about their growing youth. Staying in touch and connecting can provide support from a known advisor and heart, making a world of difference as so much new is taking place. Sending a text message with prayer requests or connecting at a scheduled time for a Facetime or phone call can bring some of the foundational time you have built with the Christian community back around as so much has changed. Those who have spent time investing in you still care, even after you have graduated.
5. Personal Bible Study
Staying close to the Lord daily also looks like spending time in His Word. The Bible is the Word of the Lord for us to enjoy not just on occasion but as a daily meal. Through His Word, we can find answers, wisdom, and encouragement for many things that life will bring about. It is also a place where you can connect with the Lord in an intimate and holy fashion. Consider reading a chapter of a book a day or dwelling richly upon a few verses to soak in. Wherever God leads you, let the Word be something you read daily and give your full undistracted attention to. Come to know Him by His Word and let it marinate within your heart in truth.
6. Listing Prayers Weekly
Another way to stay close to the Lord is through writing down weekly prayers. Perhaps journaling or even having a dry erase board in your room can assist in making this a practice that you take part in on a weekly or even daily basis. Write the prayers, questions, and praises that you have on the board and place a check or circle them each time you lift one up to the Lord. As you do this, you will begin to see how prayer makes a powerful difference in your life, and it will deepen your communication with the Lord as well. Do not forget to praise Him when the prayers are answered, not only once but often. God wants to be an active presence in our lives, but we must create space and quiet ourselves so we can hear Him. Make a choice for the investment of time in prayer and see how He truly does answer.
7. Monthly Words
Typically, towards the beginning of the year, people tend to latch or seek out a specific word or phrase from the Lord to set the year's stage, pace, or theme. That practice does not need to be limited to once a year; rather, it can be far more often than that. Many times, if we ask, He will graciously give us a word for the season or even month to carry us in rhythm for that time ahead. It could be a phrase, a memory verse, or a word to stand on with Him in prayer, belief, or study. Ask Him to allow you to see what that word looks like in daily application through Bible study, what actions you should take for that month in accordance with that word, and how that word can serve as a testimony that you can share with others going forward. Even write them down later to see what themes He was building for that year and what He had for you as a gift during that time.
Staying close to the Lord as college starts can be a challenge as so many things fight for your focus, but it is possible. Ask the Lord what is His heart for you so that you may stay near to Him and not wander. Be open that in this new season, He may have even more opportunities and places where you can come to know His heart more richly. God has a good plan for your life, one for hope, a future, and for more than you could even imagine. Trust His hand in your life and honor Him in the big and the small. You will never regret the time you spend on your relationship with God; in fact, it will bless the entirety of your life.
Thank you for the soul reading this today. Father, as students head off to school, there is so much unknown they face. As exciting avenues arise, or as options of what to do next meet them, please help them know what is for them and what is not. Help them grow deeper in relationship with You, and for Your voice, opinion, and guidance to be the most important thing in their lives. We know You have a master plan for them, one for so much good. We thank You and lift each of these students up to You now.
In Jesus Name,
Photo credit: ©Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys leading a high school girls’ small group, cooking, and spending time in tree houses. Her latest books, Dear Young Sparrow and Unveiled are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan.