How to pray when you’ve got exams

Five strategies for prayer which could make all the difference

Exam season is here. GCSE’s, ‘A’-levels, degree finals and more are part of the landscape. A few years ago I almost had a panic attack in an exam and passed by the skin of my teeth. We need all the help we can get. But can prayer make a difference? And if so, how?

We’ll take a look at five strategies that will help you be your best when exam time arrives.

  1. Stop. Put down the textbook, close the laptop and turn off the phone. Pick up the Bible, open the Psalms and turn on your heart. You may not have long to pray, but even 5 minutes can make a huge difference to your state of mind. Deliberate action is needed to enjoy a time of prayer – no matter how short or long. The first step is to stop what you are doing and decide to pray.
  2. Trust. Jesus knows how you are feeling. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV11) But he didn’t have exams! Or did he? “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:” (Matthew 22:35 NIV11) He knows how it feels to be scrutinised under pressure. Make a decision to trust that, as you pray, he understands.
  3. Focus. Do what David did, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalms 16:8 NIV11) Make a decision to begin your prayer with a focus on God, not on yourself or your challenges. Then you will find, as David did, “.. my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead…” (Psalms 16:9–10 NIV11)
  4. Ask. Go ahead and ask God for whatever you need. Is it energy, alertness, concentration, peace? Whatever it is, know that he is interested and listening. Is it allowed to ask him to help you pass your exam? I don’t see why not. Will he write the paper for you? Probably not. You won’t learn anything that way. But, he is with you. Ask him for what you need.
  5. Thank. In faith, thank God in advance for providing what you need (not always what you want). You can have, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,” (Philippians 4:7 NIV11) He has an unlimited supply, and it’s always available.

Take one minute for each of these stages, and you will have a five-minute prayer leading to a more peaceful state of mind. You might pray for longer, but even if not, you will be more conscious of God’s presence, power and love.

“Good luck”, to you as you take your exams. I hope these five strategies will help you do your best – and feel your best.

What have you tried that has made a difference now or in the past? If you’ve tried my suggestions, how did it go? What other ideas can you share with us? Please leave a comment below.

God bless,

Malcolm

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