The staff and volunteers of ESN seek to be attuned to the rhythms of the academic year and the spiritual rhythms of our lives with God. One of the main goals in how we set up our blog content is to provide spiritually invigorating content that understands the rhythms of the academic year. Today, as many people are nearing the end of their semesters, we offer a brief prayer by ESN Writer/Editor Hannah Eagleson. If you’re looking for more spiritual exercises suited to this time of year, Hannah also wrote a brief spiritual exercise at the end of last Sunday’s post Ice Cream, Work, and Liturgy.
One end of semester day during my own PhD study years, I went down to my local coffee shop and ordered a latte. The barista took one look at me and said, “An extra shot, then?” I knew I was tired, but that was the moment that it really sank in how apparent it was to everyone else. I imagine a lot of our readers are in a similar moment of the academic year right now. A friend and ESN contributor recently gave me a book of everyday liturgies called Every Moment Holy. I’ve found its prayers for everything from morning coffee to the labors of community really helpful (to read musician Andrew Peterson’s introduction to the book, click here). Inspired by them, today I want to offer a prayer for those finishing the semester.
A Prayer for the End of the Semester
Oh Lord, You know our hearts and our efforts. You know how diligently we labor and how exhausting it can feel to complete the last, often harried, rush of tasks at the end of the semester. Today, we come to You. You have promised to give us rest, and we ask that our hearts would rest in You even as we work toward the deadlines that beset us.
For undergraduate students, we pray that the knowledge and ideas they have gained this term will grow over time. We pray that five, or ten, or fifty years from now they would look back and see how some understanding they gained this term grew in their lives and brought them blessing in unexpected ways. We pray that they would find the energy to finish well.
For graduate students, we pray for strength in the midst of sometimes overwhelming workloads. For those who are now preparing for general or specialized exams, for those who are finishing their dissertations, and for those who are seeking to finish the regular work of the semester, we pray that somehow in the midst of all the work You would give them moments of insight and joy in their own intellectual growth and that of their students and colleagues.
For postdocs, we pray for strength and focus. Many may be teaching, producing research, and seeking a permanent academic job at the same time. In these multiple labors, we pray that Your presence and generosity would be keenly felt. We pray also that postdocs would truly find the community and support they need in general and in this fraught moment of the year, and would be able to give their whole hearts to the present task for Your sake, even as they plan faithfully for the future.
For professors, we pray for grace to receive the gifts of the academic life in this challenging moment of the year, that You would provide them with moments of wonder at the details of their fields and the learning of the students with whom they work. We pray that You would bless them with wisdom and grace as the contribute to the life of the university through service, that You would give them a good start on summer rest and research, and that You would provide all things necessary for them to wrap up classes and grading well.
For administrators, we pray for the ability to see their labor as a gift to the university, to the world around them, and ultimately to You. We pray for the patience to untangle complex problems that may arise in this busy time of transition, for the ability to look forward joyfully to the rest and work of the summer, and for the hope to see ways that the systems of the university can become stronger over time.
For all who labor in the care and upkeep of the university, from maintenance staff to accountants, from stagehands to medical staff members, from librarians to those who craft and serve meals, to the many others whose work sustains the life of the university, we pray that Your great mercy would ease this complex time of the year. Bless each one with kindness and generosity, and let their work be recognized and celebrated by the university.
For those in the university who face feelings of insecurity, assure them of Your approval, granted through Christ our Lord. For those who face job market challenges or ongoing difficult employment situations, provide for their every need.
For the families and friends of all those who teach and study, Lord, we also pray. Give them the grace and endurance necessary for this time of the year. Grant them Your peace, and send help and encouragement to aid them as they bear the practical and spiritual burdens of their loved ones being in a busy time of the year. Provide good rest and good fellowship for families and groups of friends, and let relationships grow stronger and not more frayed at this time of the year.
Lord, for all these things, we thank You. We thank You for pouring out the treasure of Your grace on us, through the work of Christ our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Hannah Eagleson is Interim Associate Director of InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). She launched and still edits ESN’s collaboratively written devotional for academics, Scholar’s Compass. Hannah also crafts other community-building events and materials for ESN. She holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Delaware, and an MA from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. she’s working on a novel about a dragon who gave up fending off knights to become a tea importer in eighteenth-century England.