During the course of the series, I had an article published online at Relevant Magazine-- a happy coincidence of timing-- since in the article I retold an experience that had been a good chunk of inspiration for the Faith/Science series, and for the faith/science aspect of my blog in general:
The Sunday before I started my Ph.D. program, I went up for prayer after church. I was nervous about this big step and wanted the comfort of having someone stand with me in prayer and bring my first-day jitters before the Lord.
When I told the guy on the prayer team my request, he asked what I was studying. Without hesitation, I told him: “Psychology. Cognitive Science.” He nodded and began to pray. He prayed a very different prayer than I thought I had asked for: His prayer was for my pursuit of psychology and science to not drag me away from my faith, for me to not be brainwashed by false doctrines and theories.
I admitted in the article that academia is not a warm, fuzzy place for Christians. (It's not popular. I've seen my faith mocked openly in classrooms by both faculty and fellow students, in ways that would be considered inappropriate if the topic were almost any other religious group.) In the comments, a woman claimed that I contradicted myself- that since I admit that it's tough being a Christian in science, I shouldn't have been disheartened by his prayer and concern. But, as I've alluded to already, being a Christian in science isn't tough for the reasons he prayed against.
Here's what I wish he would have prayed:
I thank you for this opportunity [name here] has to study science and to pursue knowing You by learning about Your creation. I pray for her success. I pray for clean data and sharp thinking. I pray for Your wisdom as she interprets her data. I pray that You would reveal truth to her-- because You already know the answers to the mysteries she's studying.
I pray for You to guide her as she interacts with the faculty, with her fellow students and colleagues, with her advisors and mentors, with office staff, with other researchers and research subjects, and students. I pray that she would be a light in dark places. That her conduct both in and out of the classroom would be above repute, and that she would be able to be a witness for You. I pray that she would have favor with all of these people- at every level- from faculty and administration to her students and research subjects. I pray that her interactions with students and research subjects would be full of patience and grace, and that her students and subjects would be blessed through these interactions.
I pray for community, that she would find refreshment and camaraderie in her program and in her university. We know that faith is not popular in many academic departments and often at higher levels of academia. We pray against the spirit of loneliness. We pray against discouragement. We pray against feelings of not belonging. We ask that You would bring other Christians to her for fellowship- faculty members, peers, students, that they might refresh and encourage each other in difficult times, and that you would use difficulties of all kinds-- feelings of isolation, difficult assignments, failed experiments, struggles in work-life balance, and difficult working relationships-- to bring her closer to You and that You would use these things for Your ultimate glory.
We thank You again, Lord, for this opportunity You have provided. Bless and keep [name here] as she walks in it.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.