For the first time in 17 years I won’t be on a college campus for “Welcome Week.” Even though I’ve left campus ministry to help plant a church, my heart is still deeply connected to gospel ministry for college students, and I certainly will be praying. This is my prayer.

Triune God, God of all power and might, to the Father who wills, to the Son who accomplished, and to the Spirit who applies: my humble prayer is that you would be at work on college campuses this upcoming year.

You’re older than the oldest university, wiser than the smartest scholar, more in tune with the world than finest researcher. On college campuses people are frantically searching for answers, and the Scriptures teach that fear of you is the beginning of wisdom. Lead many to you, the source of all true wisdom. As Christians so often proclaim, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” I pray that you would win the college to yourself.

In terms of gospel impact, may the class of 2021 be like none our country has ever seen. For the many believing students heading off to school, keep them grounded in the faith. Help them connect with campus ministries and churches that will provide friendship, hospitality, and encouragement. May Christian students not hide their faith under a basket, but give them the courage to be shining lights of gospel truth for all the campus to see.

I ask that you would draw many non-believing freshmen to faith in Jesus Christ. For international students who have never heard the gospel, guide them to friends and campus ministers who will share Christ with them. For students in the party scene, show them that fullness of joy is in your presence and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. For atheists who have been deceived by empty and vain philosophies, bring intelligent and winsome Christian voices into their lives. For postmodernists stuck in relativism, may the firm truth of Jesus set them free. For stone hearts to become flesh, you must work. Do things only you can do.

Holy Spirit, I ask that you would move on college campuses. Move across the intramural fields. Blow into dormitories. Fill lecture halls. From ivy-covered halls to the grungy bars across the street, I ask that you would move.

Throughout history you have used students to great ends. I give thanks for the Haystack Prayer Movement and the Cambridge Seven, but my earnest prayer isn’t just thanks for past events, but a petition for you to work today.

For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, be at work among college students as the semester begins.

In the precious name of Jesus I pray.

Amen.