A Prayer for Graduates

It seems like just yesterday! However, it has been several years ago now that our son Matthew graduated from Wilmington Christian School. It was a glorious day. Like all parents, my wife and I are so grateful for the blessing he has been to our lives and the many great memories we share. I remain humbled to see the fine person he is, in spite of all the mistakes I’ve made as his father.

As the commencement exercises neared completion, I was beginning to get a bit misty-eyed as I thought of my second son heading off to college. The awards had been given. The diplomas, also, had been awarded. The class was presented to the assembly. Parents took pictures and the soloist sang a beautifully. Then one of the senior parents stepped to the microphone to offer a prayer for the class.

This is a prayer that I wished could be prayed at every graduation. I know this is not possible, though. We live in a time when a valedictorian’s speech is silenced just because she wants to mention the name of Jesus in her valedictory address. We live in a time in which prayer is banned in many public events. But, it was not prohibited at our school. It is encouraged. So, with deep love in my heart for a son that has made me proud; with gratitude in my heart for a school that encouraged prayer; and with respect for the parent who opened his heart and led us in prayer, I share with you here Bill Lockhart’s prayer for the graduating class…

Job 38:36-37 (ESV)… Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? [37] Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens…

Psalm 99:1-3 (ESV)… The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! [2] The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. [3] Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!

Father, as parents we once again find ourselves “dedicating” our sons and daughters to You; as we recognized 18 or 19 years ago, You created them each “fearfully and wonderfully” and we recognized that they actually and ultimately belong to You; that you placed them in our care to “raise them in the nurture and admonition of Jesus Christ”.

And we acknowledge this morning that WCS has been a significant part of the task. Father, we realize once again—as we did then—that this dedication, this “giving over” of our sons and daughters is not a one-time-event; it is a continual, day-by-day dedication.

We this day give them again to You; we dedicate them to you. For your good pleasure; for Your glory. Lord, we pray that our sons and daughters long for nothing but You, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Your will.

May they recognize that You have given me these desires, and You alone can give them the thing desired. May their souls long for communion with You.

Father, may they never seek in the creature what can only be found in the Creator. Father, we deeply and passionately love our sons and daughters today; You have blessed our lives with them; we are the richest of people because of them.

Let them learn by paradox—

That the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high; that the broken heart is the healed heart; that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit; that the repenting soul is the victorious soul; that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crow; that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

O Lord God, You have commanded them to believe in Jesus. We pray that they would flee to no other refuge, wash in no other fountain, build on no other foundation, receive from no other fullness, and rest in no other relief.

And we ask all of this in no other name but the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.

Things have changed in the few short years that have passed since this prayer was offered. So many things are happening around us that many of my generation never dreamed we would see. The challenges for this year’s graduates certainly haven’t diminished. Now, as much as ever before, we need to be in prayer for our graduates.

(c) Bill Williams, a sojourner
April 25, 2015