A guide to praying for college students this fall


Gary Gramling serves as dean of the College of Christian Studies at Howard Payne University.

When students leave for college, we are sometimes at a loss as to how to pray for them. Below are some ways that you may want to consider praying for them. 

First, it is very natural to pray Scripture for them. Just a few are listed here, and I hope you will add your own to this list. 

Secondly, some of the prayer needs of college students are mentioned. But since we are aware of some of their needs, not all of them, it is encouraging to remember Jesus’ statement that “the Father knows of what things you have need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). 

So we do our best to pray for our students, but we find comfort in the thought that God knows them better than we do, loves them more than we do, and already has plans for using their unique personalities and gifts in the days ahead. Each one is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).  

Here are some ideas for how you may want to pray for your college student(s):  

Pray scripture for them:

  • That they will not be led into temptation/trial, but that God will rescue them from the evil one (Matt. 6:13)
  • That they will trust in the Lord with all their heart and not lean on their own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6)
  • That they will gain not only knowledge, but wisdom (James 1:5)
  • That God will meet all their needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19)
  • That they will work hard (Lam. 3:27; Eph. 4:28)
  • That they will grow in wisdom, in years, and in divine and human favor (Luke 2:52)
  • That God will keep their eyes from worthless things (Ps. 119:37)
  • That they will seek the Lord with all their heart (Jer. 29:13)
  • That they will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (Jas. 1:19)
  • That they will not follow the advice of the wicked but rather delight in God's word (Ps. 1:1-3)
  • That they will not be anxious, but rather will pray and experience God's peace (Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:7)
  • That God's word will be a lamp to their feet and a light to their path (Ps. 119:105)
  • That they will become a part of a church and gather regularly for worship and community (Heb. 10:27; Ps. 122:1)
  • That they will remember their Creator in the days of their youth (Eccl. 12:1)
  • That they will treat others the way they want to be treated (Matt. 7:12)
  • That they will draw near to God so that He will draw near to them (James 4:8)
  • That they will confess their sins so that God will forgive and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9)
  • That they will look to the Lord for help and protection (Ps. 121)
  • That they will bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
  • That they will love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27)
  • That they will have a heart to serve (Mark 10:43-45)
  • That they will love one another (1 Jn 4:7-8)

Other prayers for college students: 

  • That they will have the self-discipline needed to attend class and complete assignments so that they will succeed academically and receive a good education.
  • That God will be at work in the lives of the professors, the staff members, and the administration so that His purposes may be accomplished through the school.   
  • That they will learn important life lessons outside the classroom from roommates, coaches, church members, work experiences, etc.  
  • That God will use the college experience as a whole to draw them closer to Him.
  • That God will lead them to find a good local church where they will find an authentic community and be encouraged and instructed in their faith.
  • Specifically, that God will use the college years to help them transition from the faith of their parents to a faith that they own for themselves.
  • That God will protect them from the coronavirus and other illnesses.
  • That they will meet some fellow Christian students who will become lifelong friends.  
  • That God will use their classes, their experiences and the people they encounter to help them identify their giftedness and guide them toward the vocation He has in mind for them.
  • That if it is God’s will, they will meet their future spouse while in college, a person who is growing in their Christian faith and who would be a good addition to the family.
  • That God will be at work in the life of the future spouse as well, preparing that person for marriage and for life.  
  • That if marriage is not His will, or at least not yet, they will find joy and contentment in a life of singleness.
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