My husband and I had very different school experiences. He attended large public schools, while I spent 12 years in the small parochial school. I knew every one of my school-mates and still know many of them today. Because I had eleven siblings, when I went to recess, there was usually a brother or sister—or three—on the playground with me. And because our mom was PTA president more years than not, she was typically somewhere nearby too. I graduated in a class of 40. David graduated with 400 of his closest friends.
I realize now that mine was an unusual school experience. But it was all I knew and certainly what I imagined for my own four children. But God—and my husband— had other ideas. After many discussions and much prayer, we decided our kids would attend the local public schools. It was a real “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” experience for me.
I knew in my intellect that Christian families in the public school have untold opportunities to share their faith and I’m all for that. I knew God loves my kids even more than I do and that He’s fully capable of protecting them. But as I watched my first tiny, helpless baby head off to kindergarten, I felt pretty helpless myself.
That’s when I heard about a group of ladies who meet each Tuesday to pray for our students, teachers, administrators, and school workers. The group is small, but these ladies were mighty prayer warriors who welcomed me with open arms. Over the years, as my second, third, and fourth child started school, we prayed a hedge of protection around each. We prayed that they’d find favor with their teachers and schoolmates (the way the Lord granted favor to Esther in the Book of Esther).
We prayed for the students to have respect for their teachers and administrators. (“Everyone must submit himself to thegoverning authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Romans 13:1) We prayed for their physical protection. (“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” Psalm 138:7) And we prayed for their spiritual protection and discernment. (“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26)
We prayed that our Christian students and teachers would shine the light of Christ. (“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14) And we prayed they’d have a spirit of excellence in all they do. (“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23).
I reached out to teachers and other school workers, asking them, “How can we pray for you?” Teachers asked us to pray that they’d have energy to keep lessons engaging and to find balance between their school and home life. They asked us to pray for them to “love the hard-to-love child,” “see in each child the unique value God has placed there,” and for “a peaceful atmosphere in the classroom and a calm spirit in themselves.”
A custodian of 35 years asked “for strength to leave my own aches and pains at home and give my best to my school.” A bus driver asked us to pray that she’d have concentration as she drives under different traffic conditions. And an administrator asked us to pray “that every adult on your child’s school campus—from the principal to the man who cuts the grass—has the best interest of the students at heart. Pray that we’re able to see every child as having the potential to become an outstanding, contributing member of his community and treat them accordingly.” As word got out about our group, we were even invited to conduct prayer walks through the schools on the weekends.
It’s been 24 years since our first baby headed off to school. This month our youngest will begin his senior year. It’s been quite a ride. We’ve met amazing kids, parents, teachers, and administrators and I hope their livesare better because the Knights were there.Through it all, God has blessed. He’s allowed us to bring dozens of kids to church—some for the first time. And He’s humbled us by allowing us to be a small part of the work He’s doing in and through our schools. I wouldn’t change a thing.