It can be tough to fit prayer, chapel, and other ways to strengthen your relationship with God into your busy schedule as a student. If you want to carve out more time for your spiritual life while in high school or college, here are some helpful suggestions.
As Christians, we love God, but as people—especially as students—we sometimes struggle to give Him our time. So many worldly tasks demand our attention: homework, jobs, friends, family, and even taking a little time for ourselves. God may not seem like a top priority, as all the other urgent demands of life pull at us, until we are stretched too thin. But God did not design us to live hectic lives. While He wants us to have a life filled with wholesome work, He also wants us to lean on him while working.
God is love, joy, and peace. Tapping into that life source throughout the day can help you be more focused and fulfilled. Here are some ways to incorporate God’s voice into your life at school and at home.
Bookend your day
“The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” — Psalm 118:24
Having a busy schedule ahead of you in the morning or scrambling to meet deadlines at night can distract you from appreciating the day. Dedicate a couple minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed to God. In these moments, do not multitask. Put your cell phone, homework, and laptop aside. For example, read a Bible story before bed. (Even when you think you know a story, there is always more to glean from it.)
Don’t know what to say when you pray? You don’t have to say anything; God already knows what’s in your heart. Just being still and giving your time to God is a form of prayer. Or your prayer can be simple thanks. No matter what is going on, God’s gift of love remains. If nothing else, thank him for that.
Find a devotional that works for you
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you.” — 1 Chronicles 28:9
Some devotionals are more involved than others. I recommend one that is centered around a Bible verse with a short message attached, like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, because it gives you a scripture verse to hold onto and makes connections to modern life. You can find devotionals in bookstores, online, or at churches. (Churches will often have free devotionals available online, like the Daily Bread.) Also, a devotional doesn’t have to involve reading. Explore Podcasts, YouTube videos, or audio books. You can watch the videos as you sip your coffee or listen to the audiobook during your morning commute.
“Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.” — Psalm 30:4
What if I wake up late and don’t have time for a devotional, you ask? God understands we make mistakes sometimes, and he always provides us with a way to connect. One great way to place God at the forefront of your mind is to listen to Christian music. (I wake up to it using Pandora radio’s alarm clock feature.) If you like to listen to music while doing homework, why not integrate songs that point to God? Worship songs aren’t meant to stay in church, just like our faith isn’t meant to be left for Sunday mornings alone.
“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted” — Isaiah 12:4
While God may not have a Facebook page or Twitter account, many churches, devotionals, and other Christian groups do. They can add God’s light into your day as easily as scrolling through your feed. Typically, people turn to social media when they want to take a break from work. Having scripture pop up on the screen can give you a sense of worth and purpose that news updates or a pic of your friend’s Chipotle won’t (even though Chipotle is a little piece of heaven).
Also, don’t be afraid to post some Scripture on your own account! It can be hard to publically proclaim God’s presence in our lives, but showing others where this love comes from may help them discover the love they need. And you might be surprised by who likes your posts and how much a single verse can help them.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” — Revelation 4:11
Most people don’t associate exercise with God, but He was the one who created you and wants you to stay healthy. While you exercise, praise God for your abilities and ask him to give you strength (both spiritual and physical). If you’re not in the habit of exercising, now is as good of a time as any to start. You don’t have to join a gym. Follow Jesus’s footsteps and just go for walks—although I don’t suggest heading out into the desert by yourself!
“God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” — 1 John 2:14
I’m sure you’ve heard that deep breathing eases anxiety. It slows down your heart rate and allows you to focus on your breath, not your stress. Bring yourself back to God during these moments. As you inhale, imagine being enveloped in God’s love. As you exhale, imagine expelling the worldly pressure and stress (like that upcoming Calculus exam!). Incorporating God into something as simple as breathing makes a big difference; it calms your body and your soul.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” — Psalm 119:105
Have you ever been craving God’s guidance on a particular issue, but you don’t know which Bible book to turn to? Concordances can point you in the right direction. However, since concordances are made for the general public, it can still be difficult to find exactly what you need. I recommend making your own concordance. Each day when you have your devotion time, keep a notebook next to you. When you come upon a verse or passage that addresses a common challenge you face, write it down. Since everyone has their own struggles, creating a personal concordance is a great way to grow your unique relationship with God.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” — John 14:26
Even if you do all of the suggestions above, there may still be days that you forget to turn to God. That’s okay; we all need reminders sometimes. While God reminds us from within, it helps to have physical reminders too. These can be a verse on a poster in your room, a whiteboard near your desk, a bracelet around your wrist, or even a notecard in your pocket. (I have all of the above, just in case.) It’s a good idea to switch things up sometimes, too. As humans, we tend to ignore things once we get used to them being a certain way. So, if you’ve had the same verse on your whiteboard, write another one. Constant reminders will help keep you connected to God.
Finally, you have reached the end of this post. A sentence more, and I will demand no more of your time. I end with one last question: what will you do with your time now?