As I looked across the activities fair last Wednesday, I saw the school at its best. One could taste the optimism in the air as all the clubs crowded into Brower Student Center to put their best foot forward to win a few new members.
In all this flurry, one is promised many things. In one club, you could go sky diving, in another you can become a political activist and in another you can hang out and have a good time.
This is what college is supposed to be: a place of opportunity and discernment where you can try many things. It is final preparation for the rest of your life.
There are, though, clubs which do not strive for any of these things. These clubs support a faith-based view of life, and for that they are often ignored by the rest of the campus, written off as unneccessary and a waste of time.
What they can teach you though is more important than anything you can learn in college: the importance of prayer.
To understand why prayer is important, one must first understand what prayer is.
Prayer is that natural instinct of all humans to open their souls to spiritual realties. It is not a withdrawal from the world, but a way to affirm the world.
If taken all at once, the world can be a large and distracting place, without any sort of center. One can easily fall into a trench of thinking that all things happen without purpose.
But, if you turn and deeply reflect on questions like, “Why do I do what I do?” and then follow whatever answer you find, life is anything but meaningless.
I believe that many people aren’t only passively being distracted from asking such a question, but they actively avoid it.
When I ask myself, “Why do I do what I do?” I’m starting with several assumptions.
First, I’m saying that my life and, by extension all other life, has a reason and purpose.
Second, I’m saying that there is a right way and wrong way to live.
Third, I’m saying that we are responsible for ourselves and to change ourselves if we are not living up to our own morals.
This can be a very scary thing for most people and so they do not pray.
What I tell you all, though, is that if you do not reflect on your life and live up to your morals, then you are missing out on one of the most important things a person can do.
You may say that you are controlled by forces beyond yourself. But, then how can you even reflect on purpose?
Ultimately, pretending that we are determined is a removal of responsibility from oneself. In this way, prayer helps to bring you back a dignity and freedom of choice.
Jesus once said, “What does it profit a man to have all the treasures in the world but to lose his soul?”
I believe he is not only talking about the heavenly sense when he says “soul,” but how one lives his whole life.
For, what is the point of getting an “A” in all your classes, or getting your candidate into office or just sitting around having a good time, if life itself has no greater meaning?
And if life itself has a greater meaning, isn’t it worth 30 minutes a day reflecting on that meaning and living it out?
If you are a Christian, I want you to be the best Christian you can be. The same goes for Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists and everyone else. The only way I can see this happening, though, is if each person has a deep commitment to prayer and reflection.
In prayer, we recommit ourselves to our beliefs and we are renewed to live them out. In my experience, prayer has been a great source of renewal for me. It took me two years of wandering around college, not quite knowing what to do with my time here.
When I first began to have a strong commitment to prayer, I realized how many times I gave in on my morals and never stood up for what I believed in.
When I reflect on scripture or meditate on a great mystery, life becomes so much deeper and has that much more meaning.
On certain levels the activities fair is an outward manifestation of what goes on in the heart of the student body.
There are hundreds of possible pursuits in life, but you can only do so many in the time you are here.
In a way, it is a microcosm of one’s whole life.
So, before you do anything else, I urge you to think out actions and pray. Each one of us has a purpose and no one wants to miss it.