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Sending off our graduating seniors with prayer

By Elyot Xia-Zhu and Sarah Hedges 

Our time with the youth (seven years for Sarah!) has been joyful, frustrating, and an honor. We have walked with our youth through various trials: many changes in the youth leadership, instability and uncertainty caused by a global pandemic, and the ever-growing pressures and temptations of the world presented through technology, among many others. These trials have revealed the hidden sins of insecurity, pride, selfishness, idolatry, divisiveness, and anger, among students and leaders alike. Yet we know trials produce steadfastness for those who belong to Christ Jesus, who crucifies the passions and desires of the flesh. As such, we have seen the Holy Spirit grow the students in wisdom and understanding, usually in the most unexpectedly delightful ways.
As leaders, we have strived to be faithful to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6),” though many times we can only pray and hope that we obey Jesus’ command to “Let the little children come to [Jesus] and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).” For as much as we would like to think we have taught the students, we have certainly committed mistakes in our leadership. They in turn have taught us much about humility, patience, grace, peace, and faithfulness in the Lord. Thanks be to God for His blessings on our youth group, and we thank you, our church family, for entrusting us with your children.
We now look to the future and desire to lift up our graduating seniors in prayer. In particular, please join us and the students’ parents in praying for them for the following.

For finding their security and identity in Christ alone
Father, the temptation to look for our identity and security in things other than You, is ever-present. Please be with our students as they fight this constant battle. Please remind them of the truth that You are the only One who satisfies. Please surround them with others who will encourage them. Lord, when they inevitably look in broken cisterns for Living Water, please draw them back to You. They are Yours and You love them more than we could ever imagine. Thank you.
(Emily and James Purcell)

For a loving and faithful local church community wherever the students may end up
Lord God, please give our students a loving and faithful local church community. We know that this can and should be a lifeline during this time of transition. Please lead our students to a healthy, You-centered church that preaches and teaches the Word. Please surround them with believers of all ages that can act as surrogate parents, grandparents, and siblings when they feel alone and miss home.
(Emily and James Purcell)

For stepping out of their comfort zones and building healthy relationships in the church with brothers and sisters
Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for our students to be proactive in finding a community of believers to surround themselves with. Please give them a desire and a longing to seek out and nurture Christian relationships with people of all ages.  Please surround them with Christian brothers and sisters who will encourage them and help them grow in building community and showing hospitality to others. We pray that they would be bold in seeking out Christian community and grow to show God’s love more and more as they become adults.
(Sarah Hedges and Elyot Xia-Zhu)

For protection from the temptations of this world and the evil one
Oh Father, what a wonder it is that you would give us so much. We love you and honor you. I thank you for each of these young adults and for allowing us the privilege of being their parents and trusting us with them. From their infancy we have committed them to you and prayed for you to protect them as they grew. 

Lord, we continue this prayer. We ask that not only you protect them from bodily harm but also that you protect them when temptation comes. Jesus, you know the temptation that they will encounter as you have experienced it as well. Please help them remember this and find encouragement in you. Jesus, when temptation comes that is too powerful for them to resist, may they remember the sacrifice you made on the cross and that it paid the price for all sin. Oh Lord, if they do give in to temptation, may they find comfort in the truth of 1 John, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Father, I pray that when temptation for them is too overwhelming that you teach them repentance and the beauty of your grace. Father, I do ask that you place elders who are wise in the Spirit in each of their lives. Give them someone who will help them as they mature and learn to put on the armor you have provided to all of us.

God, we lift this prayer up in Jesus' beautiful name. Amen.
(John Eubanks)

For embracing calling, vocation, ministry, and life
Father, you created each one of these students for your glory. We remember your wonderful works, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Thank you for going before these students... for planning their days and preparing specific places for their unique gifts. Your kindness is shown as they walk through childhood and seek their passions- some big, some small, some successful, some not- and put their hands to new experiences. Thank you for the gift of being able to watch this process, as parents. Please give them further clarity in these callings -in their vocations, in their ministries, and in their lives. Please place Christian women and men in their path to guide them and encourage them in their work. May they work unto you!
(Meredith and Tony Cunningham)

For an ever-growing desire to draw nearer to the Lord
Lord, remind our students that you sing over them, delight in them, and that you are near. Because of your great love, may they be compelled to hold fast to you all the days of their life. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) New experiences are often exciting, but can bring loneliness. May they look to you and not the world! May they practice righteousness! May they walk in the light! May they abide in you, having an ever-growing desire to draw nearer to you! May they experience you daily- waking, brushing their teeth, going to work, making meals, turning in assignments, talking to friends, and even resting!
(Meredith and Tony Cunningham)