It’s started! Adorable pics of back-to-schoolers are flooding FB.

This is my cue to focus my prayers toward young people and our schools in general.  I believe prayer is vital.  You probably do too, but do you ever find yourself stopping after asking for your kids’ safe return and that they make good choices because you’re not sure what else to pray?  What if there’s more for them than being protected from bullies and staying out of trouble?

Some of us may have our kids in Christ-centered class rooms. Many of us do not.  No matter where our kids attend, our prayers have the ability to shape them as we ask for God to be at work in everything that will encounter throughout their day.

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Here are three themes that are at the heart of my prayers and at the heart of conversations that I am having with my students. For parents and teachers, alike:

#1 Pray that school is an opportunity for kids to find and and grow their gift.

Just a few days ago, a box-store cashier was complaining to me about having to be at work.  “So this isn’t your dream job?” I queried.

“Heck no!”

“So what would you like to be doing instead?”

“I don’t really know … pursue my dream, I guess.  Hang out with my kids more. Find a way to make more money.”

“But do you want to become some thing in particular? Go back to school?  Pursue a passion? Make a difference in the world?”

“Not really,” he answered. “My dream is to have lots of money and play with my kids.”

As I walked away, it occurred to me, that Americans have become what I call  “Disnified”; we look to live the dream … to find ourselves … to be true to ourselves … and if possible, to become famous … AND rich.  The problem is that … well … the problem is that IT’S A PROBLEM!

The most fulfilled people I know are those who give have a sense of purpose.  Their lives are not necessarily filled with ease, but they find contentment in helping others, in giving back to other people; even people who don’t seem very deserving.

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Life has presented its rockiest challenges when I’ve felt directionless; when I’ve worried about having enough money, attention, and comfort.  Truly, my darkest moments have a theme – “it’s all about me”.

I want so much more for our kids.  I pray that as they sit in their classrooms and interact with others that they will learn that they have been “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  I pray that their teachers will have the wisdom to point out their gifts of compassion, leadership, organization, discernment, hospitality, creativity, etc.

Whether or not we agree with all of the ideologies presented in many classrooms, school can still be a pathway to passions that will lead our kids to contribute to this world as scientists, engineers, care givers, inventors, builders, artists, teachers, entrepreneurs and more.

Father, You have given us gifts for Your purposes.   I pray that our children will learn more about how You have uniquely gifted each one.  May my daughter not be consumed with a beautiful appearance but a gentle heart. May my son not not worry about strength of muscle but rather seek to have strength of courage.  May my child grow in the knowledge of what You have instilled in his life that will enable him to care for others. May my daughter be refined in her leadership gifts through the conflicts she faces.  May Your will be done in and through my child today as he grows into whom You have made him to be.

#2 Pray for Wonder and Amazement
Father, whether You are directly or indirectly acknowledged in my child’s classroom today, I pray that my daughter (son) will walk away amazed. You have given us an incredible world to live in – intricate in detail and fascinating to explore. A world full of wonders.  May every math equation, scientific discovery, geographical location and story of human behavior point back to You.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made!
I pray that my child see the wonders of You in every page he turns.  May she be curious … a life learner … a seeker of truth … a leader.

I pray that he will be taught to investigate … to seek solid information … to love what is sound and moral.

I pray that my child will have discernment.  That she will recognize right from wrong. Please create doors of open communication as I seek to point her back to You even in situations where You are ignored or slandered. 

Help me have the discernment to teach my children how to overcome the spiritual battles that await.  Help me to teach them how to praise You and to trust You as a result of the experiences they will have at school each day.

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#3 Pray for Compassion
Father, we live in such a hard-hearted, skeptical world. Bitterness and anger wait at every turn.  I find myself defensive and self-absorbed.  Will You break these tendencies in me and in our children? Will you teach them Your love for the people of this world?

As our children read about history and cultures and peoples from all over the world, may fears evaporate.  May the education that they receive today inspire them to care about others. May they long to leave the people they interact with hopeful and encouraged . May they be known as a problem solvers … not trouble makers.

As our sons and daughters encounter meanness, selfishness, and lostness, may they react in an opposite manner.  May they see beyond hurtful words and actions of others to the pain inside.  Will You teach my child to recognize lostness and to then be patient and kind?  I pray that my child will have eyes for the lonely in the lunchroom today; for the one who is always chosen last by her peers.

May he sit next to the new student. May she offer help to the student who doesn’t understand what the teacher is saying.

If my child feels alone today, may he be reminded that You are with him.  Please use the moment of struggle as a pathway to compassion for others, rather than the start of a wall of isolation.

Father, You love my child … even more than I do.  I trust You to be at work.  May Your purposes prevail in every moment of her day.

What would happen if we committed to prayer in a fresh way and then recorded the process and the results?  The impossible place of school just may turn into one of the most amazing experiences our children can have … all because of the power of God at work through our prayers.  Let’s pray.