Written by Cliona Perkins
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of St Nic’s.
I don’t know about you, but trying to maintain my church habits when I return home for the summer is something I really struggle with. At St Nics our weeks can be jam-packed: we have Student Hub, Student Tea, Student Prayer, mentors, a ‘Home from Home’, St Nic’s Communities and three Sunday services to choose from. This means we can end up in contact with some form of church nearly every day of the week, so it’s no surprise that our engagement with faith may rapidly decrease as we go home for the summer.
I am aware that everyone is going home to different situations: some of you will go back to very active churches with plenty of peer support, whereas others of you are going home to churches where the number of students and young people is very low. Some of us have only recently started our faith journey and are going home to a non-Christian family and a place where you don’t currently have a church to attend or Christian friends to spend time with. Whichever situation you find yourself in it can be really hard to engage your faith in at home, so I’ve got some top tips about how to stay engaged with our faith whilst we are away from our jam-packed St Nic’s weeks.
Thessalonians 5:16-18 says ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’.
Prayer is an integral part of our relationship with God so it’s important that we integrate it into our everyday life. Remembering to pray is something I struggle with, even at university where my week is more structured and I have a quiet place to pray and spend some time with God. Back home my weeks aren’t very structured as I have varied shifts at work, I never know who is going to be in the house at what time and even when I’m alone in the house I have a crazy dog who becomes a big distraction.
So how do we keep our prayer life active with all the distractions that come with being at home? One thing I would suggest is ‘PrayerMate’, an app that can be downloaded onto your phone. This app allows you to list all of the people and situations you want to pray for and it randomly picks five of these for you to pray about. You can also turn on notifications for the app to remind you to pray. I have found this very useful, especially at times where I have been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and the notification pops up. Check out how to can connect with St Nic’s on PrayerMate here.
2. THE BIBLE
Reading the Bible in the 21st century may seem like a really difficult task when we have streaming services like Netflix: 4+ seasons of a newly discovered show and no self-control resulting in us challenging ourselves to binge it all in the space of a week. Again, my unstructured weeks at home make it hard for me to have an allocated time every day to read my bible. One thing I have found really helpful is having someone keep me accountable for my bible reading. This could be a friend or family member. Or for those who are going back to a non-Christian family, someone from St Nics like a mentor, Home from Home or a fellow student.
It may also be helpful to set your alarm a little earlier in the morning to give yourself time to read and pray. This has been helpful for me as it has allowed me time to stay upstairs and read the Bible before I go downstairs to the temptation of the TV screen. Alternatively reading alongside someone else and doing a bible study can be really helpful in keeping you accountable for your reading, it will also help you to really think about what you are reading, instead of just reading it and pushing it aside.
Praying for and talking to our non-Christian friends about Jesus is a great way to keep ourselves engaged with our faith, as we need to be prepared to answer any questions that might be thrown at us. At St Nic’s we are passionate about introducing our friends to Jesus. As a student group, we meet every Thursday morning to pray for three friends and we have already seen amazing things happen as a result of this. Going home and not having the regular structure of student prayer shouldn’t be an excuse to stop trying to bring people to Jesus. In fact, we should use it as an excuse to talk to and pray for friends and family back home that we haven’t thought about before. Doing this will help keep us on our toes when it comes to our spiritual life, and who knows, we could have amazing results from this that we didn’t expect. Wouldn’t it be great to hear some stories from over the summer when we are all back in Nottingham?!
Of course, we also need to make sure we are in fellowship at home too and not just trying to do it by ourselves. If you don’t have a church back home then I would really encourage you to find one that you can be a part of. You can really keep the momentum going with the growth of your faith over the summer holidays. A great way to find a church in your local area is A church near you, a resource made by The Church of England. You simply enter your location and it tells which churches are in your area, their location and ways of contacting them.
If I’ve managed to hold your attention this far, I hope that I have managed to help you in some way or another. I hope you all have an amazing summer and I’m excited to hear what you all get up to and how God is working through you when we return to Nottingham in September.