So many great movements in American history were begun by students. So many other great movements of faith started with faithful people on their knees in prayer. Just imagine what could happen when faithful students fall to their knees in prayer—for their fellow students, for their school, and for their nation. For nearly twenty years, this has the been the spirit behind See You at the Pole—mobilizing students together to pray. (syatp.org)
But prayer is just the beginning. What happens after the amens are said and students head back to class to resume the rest of their day and the rest of their week? As a teacher for more than a decade, little brought me greater joy than to see students gathered together to pray. But little broke my heart more than the status quo remaining after.
Prayer is powerful, not because it changes God, but because it changes us. Prayer opens our eyes to see people the way God sees them, to love others as Jesus loves us, and to remind us of the power and importance of sharing the gospel with others. Prayer unites us into one body, compelling us to live ON MISSION for the sake of others.
We should have no less a goal for our students as they gather this coming Wednesday around the flagpoles of thousands of schools across the nation. But how can we as youth leaders best equip our students, not just for Wednesday, but the rest of the week, month, semester, and school year?
Praying at the flagpole can revitalize a focus on prayer
Like I mentioned above, prayer is powerful. But we knew that right? Yet, sometimes it can be so easy to forget and let prayer sink into a mundane routine rather than a life-changing habit.
I have a friend that makes it a priority to pray for his server while in a restaurant. The conversation between server and customer is more than just what to eat or drink, it is, “How can I pray for you?” The first time I witnessed it, I have to admit that I was almost embarrassed. On the one hand, embarrassed because I thought it made the server uncomfortable, but on the other hand, because I wasn’t doing it. But as the meal went on, I noticed something in the server’s attitude toward our table change. She could sense that we cared. We ended up learning about her family and what she needs to do to put food on the table for her and her children. I imagine that it was impactful for her, but it was habit changing for me.
My point is simple. Prayer changes things. And See You at the Pole, could help your students, like me, gain a new appreciation and focus on prayer. Instead of just praying for fellow students, challenge them to ask their fellow students how they can pray for them—specifically.
See You at the Pole is an easy in to start a conversation
Friends are watching. Although rare, the school is focused on prayer—even if only for a few minutes. Heck, even the entire nation can’t ignore it. This making it an incredible opportunity for students to strike up a conversation. It might be something as risky as asking a student who doesn’t believe or of another faith, what they think. Or perhaps as simple as asking: “Did you go?” The very nature of focused events like this make conversation about it almost unavoidable.
Just be sure to help students be prepared when it happens. One of the best places to go for tools to have productive spiritual conversations is Greg Stier at Dare2Share.
As your students engage in deeper more productive conversations, be sure to remind them of two key factors in any conversation about spiritual things. First, be less concerned about making your point and more focused on getting to know the other person. In other words, ask more questions than make statements. Making statements about what you believe often comes off as arrogant. Allow time to consider another’s point of view first. Second, build relationships. It is easy to get fixated on closing the deal in hopes a person will make a decision for Christ. That may happen, but leave that job for the Spirit of God. It takes the pressure off and let’s the other person know you care about them.
SYATP can be a launchpad to create a Bible study, a Q&A forum, etc.
See You at the Pole is a perfect time to get a Bible study going, create a space for skeptical students to ask questions, or simply continue to pray each morning with a select group. Several years ago after See You at the Pole, I challenged students to join me in my classroom each morning for prayer. Naturally, the first few weeks I had a classroom full of students. Over time that number dwindled to just a select few. But those few over the course of the year were committed. Those students became more aware of their fellow students and started praying with students in halls throughout the day. Just a few students made an incredible impact.
These are just a couple of simple ways. There are of course so many more—some far more creative. Every school community has a unique personality that often requires unique solutions. Explore ideas with students and experiment. See what works and what doesn’t. Help students see that prayer ought to compel us to action, to walk as Christ did, to be a source of light, and to allow people even a glimpse of Christ through each of us.
What do you do to encourage prayer to continue with your students after See You at the Pole?
See what CE National does to encourage, coach, and empower students.