A Staying Prayer for Mothers of College Freshmen

staying prayer for mamas

The next few days may be marked with lasts,  but soon her grown-up child begins a new set of firsts. She helps him pack his bags with clothes and his boxes with books. But you see what the mamas carry in their hearts – anticipation, longing, love, regret, anxiety, nostalgia, and resolve.

They are a mix of excited, terrified, and closed-eyed hope.

As she watches her child look for a fresh start, remind her to make her home in you.

As she sends her freshmen off into the world, make her feet steady to stay behind – sure, confident, and at peace.

As she prays for her daughter to find good friends, may you bring prayerful friends to her own side, to remind her she is not alone.

If insecurity, fear, or disappointment knock on her empty-nest door, may she turn to you with her questions rather than get busy doing.

If she receives calls from her faraway girl, though there may be tears and heartbreak on the other line, may she not set out to fix, rather may she sink deeper into you. Weave your wisdom into the fibers of her soul, bearing the fruit of confidence, clarity, contentment and a light-heart.

a staying prayer for mothers of college freshmen

May she have the patience to believe even when the reports sound grim.

May she not be quick to judge, rather may she be patient and curious.

May she remember what her daughter needs more than answers is to know she’s not alone.

May she remember what her son needs more than advice is to know he’s got what it takes.

May she not despise her weakness, rather may she see how weakness brings a daily reminder to trust.

May she feel the freedom to feel what she feels without the pressure to be more happy, more sad, or more anything other than simply who she is in this moment.

If she is struggling to let go, in your time replace her fear with courage and her confusion with peace.

And if the not-enoughs haunt her in the night, the fear that she didn’t love, teach, do, or instruct enough while the kids were under her roof, comfort her with the assurance that you are the Artist who weaves together good from all things.

Help her release her children into your hands.

For the parents of college freshmen all over the world, may your grace surprise them kindly in this time of newness, waiting, and love.


This staying prayer for mothers of college freshmen was inspired by a post I wrote last year around this time: A Sending Prayer for College Freshmen. May you find peace and joy in this season of transition.

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  1. Jenn Nahrstadt says

    Emily, you have been given insights beyond your years. Thank you for sharing. As a mother and empty nester of a only child returning for his second year, I was comforted today by these words.

  2. says

    Thank you for this, Emily. I dropped my son off at college yesterday, and yes, there is a hole in my heart. I already miss his silliness and singing. Although I know it is time and he is where he should be.

    I release another boy next week. Home is not the same, but God is, and He is good and gracious to guide and guard my boys and to assure me of a purpose in this new season. Blessings.

  3. Shelley in Cali says

    Our two kids heading to away from home college next week, one with a December graduation in her sights and an engagement ring on her finger. And our youngest setting out on his own for the first time. It right and good and devastating. Thank you for your blessing words.

  4. Barbara says

    I’ve sent two boys to college and experienced all the feelings mentioned. I love that you mentioned the Artist who weaves all things together for good. I’ve found that to be true. It’s still tough on a mom to release them into His hand.
    I’ve also been privileged to be a leader in a Moms in Prayer college group (MomsinPrayer.org). I’ve seen 5 seasons of freshman moms sending off their hearts to school. Banding together in prayer makes all the difference. Where there are two or three gathered together in His name, there He will be also.
    Thanks for your prayer of hope for these moms!

  5. Jeannie says

    Emily, thank you for these words:
    And if the not-enoughs haunt her in the night, the fear that she didn’t love, teach, do, or instruct enough while the kids were under her roof, comfort her with the assurance that you are the Artist who weaves together good from all things.

    . . .and the encouragement they bring! I needed this reminder!

    grace and peace to you

  6. Cathy says

    Thank you for writing and sharing this Emily. We said good-bye to our son this week so this is great encouragement for this mom! Thank you.

  7. says

    This was beautiful. My children are still little, but it still really struck a chord with me. I struggle with feeling that I’m not enough, that I’m somehow “ruining” my little ones for the future. Thank you for the needed reminder that God is the Artist of all. He takes imperfect people and makes beautiful things.

  8. says

    Emily, thank you for these words of beauty and grace. My children are still far away from this stage, but, as my oldest enters first grade, and nearly reaches my shoulders, I can already feel my heart ache and my eyes sting a bit. On another note, as someone who teaches college freshmen, if you all would also keep college instructors in your thoughts – especially that we remain committed to fostering & celebrating the unique talents and strengths of each student and that we treat each student with the same fairness, grace, and respect that they all deserve – I would be most grateful. I wish all the parents of college students many, many blessings.

    • says

      I hope my kiddos have a college instructor like you. I love your words and your desire for fairness, grace, and respect for your students, Jennifer. Really beautiful.

  9. Debbie O says

    So, good, I teared up. Thank you for expressing the thoughts and heart of a mom going through this for the first time and the compassion needed for herself and encouragement for her “child”. I may have to read this several times over the next few weeks!

  10. says

    This time last year was my sending prayer for our youngest. This Monday I am privileged to be included in his return trip to UF for his second year. Reading your words on this Friday afternoon, surrounded by piles of what to take, what to shed, what to wash, while he is off with friends on this side of the US I am moved to shed a few tears of recognition in your staying prayer. It is right and good yet hard and wounding as a momma lets go…thanks be to God for the gift of His Presence in the middle of this beautiful mess…thank you for voicing unspoken words of my heart today.

  11. says

    A beautiful prayer for parents embracing on this new chapter of life. I’m starting a new chapter of homeschooling my littles and find comfort and hope in these words, too…”comfort her with the assurance that you are the Artist who weaves together good from all things. Help her release her children into your hands.” Yes and Amen. xoxo

  12. says

    Emily, I wish I had had this prayer 3 years ago when I sent my oldest child to college 4000 miles away, only 2 months after having started life as a missionary. I experienced some of my darkest days of parenting in the two years that followed, feeling heartache so deep it was a literal physical pain. Today, I weep as I find the knowing in your words — comforting, healing, reassuring words. Last year, I sent another child to college (again, 4000 miles away) and the prayer for college freshmen ministered to me then as well. These prayers are ones I will keep and continue to pray, as I believe there will always be something of letting go and trusting my Father with {even the most very adult} children. Thank you for putting into words the rawest emotions and struggles my heart has experienced, for so beautifully speaking words of truth in the face of them, and for inviting me into those words through prayer.

  13. Annette says

    Although my youngest just graduated from college in May, this prayer still applies as she launches into a real “big girl” job in the corporate world. All the lessons learned while she was away at college still need to be put into practice, especially patience to believe and not be quick to judge. Thanks for the reminders.

  14. says

    I’m sending my oldest two – twin girls – off to their colleges for their freshman year. This prayer was exactly what I needed this morning…you hit on all those concerns and insecurities that I’m feeling. I am pretty sure I will be sleeping better at night after your reminder that God ‘is the artist who weaves together good from all things’. I need not worry endlessly about my ‘not-enoughs’. Thank you!

    • says

      Oh Nancy, your life will be my life in 8 years – my oldest two are twin girls as well. I cannot even imagine it.

      I’m so glad to know you will sleep better at night with this reminder. I feel that way, too.

  15. says

    Thanks for this. Kid number three leaves in September. I continue to realize my need to sink deeper into Him when I hear struggle on the other end of the line. That will be my greatest legacy.

  16. Edith says

    Thank you for sharing, as I just became that very broken mom leaving her princess far away for the first time.
    Never thought it would be this difficult.
    Reading your prayer gives me hope that my daughter will be fine and helps me have more faith and believe that she will come back victorious with degree on hand. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    And if the not-enoughs haunt her in the night, the fear that she didn’t love, teach, do, or instruct enough while the kids were under her roof, comfort her with the assurance that you are the Artist who weaves together good from all things.

  17. Lavaata Carter says

    Thank you for the beautiful prayer. Your words expressed exactly what I am feeling. What a blessed relief to know that my son is in God’s hands as he weaves a new chapter in his life.

  18. Melissa says

    My oldest daughter forwarded this to me as we said goodbye to our middle daughter today. We know the Lord made it so amazingly possible for her to go to a Christian college, and she’s right in God’s will, but that still doesn’t take the emptiness away totally. Tears do bring a release and healing. Thank you for your sweet, encouraging prayer. So timely!

  19. Anita says

    Emily-I read this prayer as I return from taking my youngest son to college. The blessed mother of 3 boys, and my life has been filled with the sounds of the footsteps, the laughs, the loud voices, the wrestling, the hugs, and the “love you mom.” I will miss those daily sounds…my heart is heavy…thank you for this prayer that is perfectly timed……

  20. Beth says

    Emily, I just discovered this and am going to share it with a group of Baylor praying moms. We meet once a month in the Phx area to pray for our kids in Texas and I think they would really appreciate reading this.

    Thank you for blessing us with this prayer!

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