Spiritual Formation

For All the Freshmen

Today was Freshmen Move-In Day at Moody. It moves me. Every. Single. Year.

I first wrote this prayer in 2015.

I re-pray it tonight and re-post it here in honor of the class of 2022. 


They arrived today.

With their baskets of bedding and their neat stacks of notebooks and their brand new jeans. They came to our campus with their snarled up stomachs and their wide wet eyes and all of their hopes and dreams.

They arrived with their siblings and parents and friends, who filled up their fridges and helped settle their stuff, who gave lingering hugs and some last words of advice and finally waved goodbye.

I watched them come. For the twentieth time. And I am always moved by the sight of them.

On the sidewalk I greeted a few with a handshake, a smile, and a “you are welcome here.” On Monday morning I will meet many more. I will show them a syllabus and learn their names and begin my specific task of helping them read and think and write.

But knowing what I know—that these next four years will be full of all manner of things—I feel compelled tonight, before I turn out the light, to offer a simple prayer…


El Shaddai,

Walk with them. Reveal Yourself—in ways old and new. Be near.

Fuel their passions. Strengthen their resolve. Fill their hearts with love.


When loneliness comes, be their Friend.

When fear overwhelms, be their Rock.

When the path seems hidden, be their Light.

When they are broken, be the Healer of their hearts.

When they doubt their calling, be their ever-burning Bush.

When they doubt You, show up in big and un-mistakable ways.


May they fall in love with learning.

May they discover new gifts.

May they steward well their resources, their money, and their time.

May they discern Your truth and cling tightly to it.


I pray for a church home where they can be fed.

I pray for a mentor who will challenge and cheer.

I pray for some life-long, life-giving friends.


Build into their being tenacity and resilience,

Patience and compassion,

Boldness and gentleness,

And a deep dependence on You.


When they trip and fall, or when they run headlong in the wrong way, be their Father.

Pursue them relentlessly.

Pierce their soul.

And bring them back.


You are God.

They are Yours. Not ours.

We commit to serving You and them, to the best of our ability and by Your grace.

We lay this year on the altar.

Do with it as You will.



If you’d like to send your freshman off with some extra support,

consider getting them a copy of 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves.



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