As students return to school, people throughout South Florida will once again gather in prayer at their local elementary, middle and high schools on the Saturday before school starts to pray for the local campuses. Initiated by First Priority, a ministry passionate about connecting the church to reach the campus for Christ, Back to School Prayer 2017 simply encourages every person from every church to meet at their school’s flagpole at 9 a.m. and spend an hour in prayer. If you cannot access the flagpole, gather by the main school sign along the road.
For Palm Beach County public schools that will be Saturday, August 12. In Broward and Dade counties, they will meet on Saturday, August 19.
“Wouldn’t it be great to see the body of Christ uniting together – people from every different church in that community gathering on the local public school to spend an hour in prayer for that campus.,” said Chris Lane, executive director of First Priority. “I am so excited about this initiative… We want to see your church involved.”
With about 25 schools engaged in their first year of Back to School Prayer, organizers hope to build on the foundation that was laid last year.
Lazaro Maseda, a First Priority volunteer campus coach who participated in back to school prayer last year at Imagine Charter School, said “I believe that the Lord wants us to come to Him with the desires of our hearts. I would love to see the Lord reach the hearts of our children in a very deep and personal way, and coming to Him on behalf of these kids is a way to bring the plight of these children directly to the throne of our Lord.”
Deanna Landis, a First Priority campus sponsor and teacher at Coconut Creek High School, agreed, “Last year was my first year teaching high school and I was a little intimidated at first, so it was important for me to invite God to go before me so it wasn’t just me. We prayed that God’s spirit would flush out the nonsense and I definitely think it made a difference.”
Looking back, Landis said, “I bonded well with my students and developed some great relationships all by the grace of God.”
Landis said she hopes to encourage more teachers to join her in back to school prayer this year, adding “Setting that tone helps with our individual faith and our confidence for the school year.”
According to Fred Revell, associated director of First Priority, the idea for Back to School Prayer 2016 came after the First Priority chapter in Nashville, Tennessee, petitioned their governor to establish a statewide day of prayer for the schools. “We’re trying to do that at the grassroots from the ground up,” he said.
While many people are familiar with See You at the Pole, a student-led prayer event held for more than 25 years that encourages students to pray for their generation at their school flag pole in September, Back to School Prayer is new and different. Revell explained, “See You at the Pole is limited to students. And prayer is such a good thing, we thought why not engage the church in a way that would encourage participation even before school starts.” He emphasized that this is not just for high schools and middle schools, but for elementary schools too. This includes public schools, private schools, charter schools and home schools.
Prayer resources available
First Priority has put together a variety of resources to encourage participation on their website at www.firstpriority.cc/BTSprayer. These include promotional postcards, posters, slides and a video that can be used to announce the event during church services. People are also encouraged to download and print the Back to School Prayer Guides to take with them the morning of the event.
The guides are modeled after similar ones used by Moms in Prayer, a national initiative that brings moms together to pray for their school throughout the year, and outline four specific prayer requests: campus safety, spiritual awakening, student missionaries, administration and faculty.
A summary of the Back to School Prayer Guides follows and each prayer point includes a Scripture verse for reference.
Pray for God to protect the campus, for angels to keep guard, and pray against evil. “In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm. May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem” (Psalm 20:1-2, NLT).
Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for the lost to be found, and for the gospel to grow and bear fruit. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you” (Psalm 51:12-13).
Pray for students to be salt and light, for them to make disciples and to invite friends to church. “I am sending you …to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me” (Acts 26:17-18).
Administration and Faculty
Pray for unity on the school staff. Pray for joy in their calling as educators and that teachers would speak truth. “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
If you would like to learn more about Back to School Prayer 2017, visit www.firstpriority.cc/BTSprayer.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/