Prayer crucial for college student

Saturday, August 14, 2004

I think it's a little-known fact that college students pray all the time. I'm sure that even those students who aren't particularly religious occasionally find themselves sending a word or two to God, especially during those inevitable sticky situations that come with being a "responsible adult" for the first time.

Last year I started my freshman year of college at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., more than 300 miles from my home in Advance, Mo. I remember praying a lot before I left for school, because I really didn't know anyone at Truman. I was scared about leaving my family, making new friends and keeping my grades up -- I had the usual I-can't-believe-I'm-so-old-I'm-actually-leaving-for-college-in-a-month jitters.

Mostly, however, I was afraid that I would be assigned some strange and awful roommate who would make my college experience miserable. I remember praying that I would get someone normal, that I would be assigned just one regular roommate who wouldn't listen to weird music, steal my shoes or keep me awake all night. Imagine my surprise when I learned I would be spending the next year in a quad-room, crammed into a very small space with three strange girls and sharing a bathroom with another four!

When move-in day came, things were a little strange. Our room was crowded, of course, and we struggled to make small talk as we unpacked. I thought my roommates looked OK, they seemed normal enough, but we were all still pretty uneasy. I think we all prayed that God would make the nervousness go away, especially after our families left and we were alone.

Luckily, after a few days, the awkwardness began to wear off. We started to talk more easily, and we laughed a little more each day. Eventually I found that my roommates were a blessing -- over the course of the year, they became my best friends.

Although we got along very well, it really was difficult being away from home for the first time. I know that prayer helped us get through all the rough times -- both large and small.

Every time one of us faced a difficult test or had problems with a teacher, there was prayer. Every time an alarm clock didn't go off in time for an early morning class, there was prayer. Every time we simultaneously ran low on cash and toilet paper, there was prayer.

My friends and I prayed continually. There was a prayer for every scary dinner in the cafeteria, every date, every time the bathroom was cleaned, every snowstorm, every time Michelle accidentally killed her pet fish, every late night, every laundry day when all the machines were full, every accident, every grouchy professor, every fight, every flat tire or dead car battery, every deadline, every parking ticket and every mind-numbing, eye-drooping political science class. I like to believe that no matter how important or seemingly trivial our prayers are, God is always paying attention.

I think all of my experiences last year prove that God knows exactly what he's doing, even when things don't work out as planned. I didn't plan to have three roommates (plus a number of suitemates), but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Yes, Michelle does still have that Backstreet Boys CD, Megan did borrow my shoes sometimes, and we often kept each other up all night laughing and goofing off. But I thank God for giving my roommates to me, and I can't wait to live with them again this fall.

Whitney McFerron spent the summer working as an intern at the Southeast Missourian.

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