Want to change a nation? Start with the children and young people, says Pete Baker. He makes an impassioned plea for Christians to prioritise prayer for their local schools
In 2020, we felt stirred to initiate the National Day of Prayer for Schools. We know many Christians have been praying for schools for decades, and many play an active role in the schools in their communities. But as the Covid-19 pandemic began to impact the UK, we could see that children, young people, families and school communities were suffering massively. And this led us to pray.
One of my dreams is that, one day, every school in the UK would have a church or a group of Christians praying for it and actively seeking to serve it.
Imagine that! Every school prayed for and served! Christians stirred, mobillsed and equipped to pray for the schools in their communities. We know that 95 per cent of young people are not actively engaged in a local church - but 99 per cent are in mainstream education.
After being involved in schools ministry for over 20 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are truly going to shape the nation for the kingdom of God, we need to learn how to serve our schools - and it starts with prayer!
Here’s five reasons to pray for your schools:
1. Prayer is Powerful
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” says James 5:16.
We believe in the power of prayer. It is a way of aligning ourselves with the heart of God, and we believe that God’s heart is moved for the children and young people of our nation. God is on the move and prayer enables us to join in with what he is doing.
Prayer is often humans trying to bend God’s will to ours, but one of the beautiful mysteries that happens in prayer is that God’s will becomes our will and God’s desires become our desires as we say ‘yes’ to Him.
If we are truly going to shape the nation for the kingdom of God, we need to learn how to serve our schools - and it starts with prayer!
One of the keys to transforming our communities is to allow God to break our hearts for our schools and for the children and young people in them.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because prayer is powerful!
2. Formative years
One of the great privileges of schools ministry is the recognition that most people who come to faith do so between the ages of four and 14. Children and young people are in the most formative years of their lives, during which their worldviews are shaped, and their image of God is either built up or shattered.
In these crucial years, a young person’s identity, values and purpose may be set for the rest of their lives.
The Church can play a massive role in praying for, supporting and serving children, young people, families, church workers that engage in schools, Christian teachers and school staff, chaplains, counsellors, governors and educationalists who are part of our church communities.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because in these school years, a nation of young hearts and minds are being formed.
3. Mental health crisis
The current mental health crisis amongst children and young people is one of the most devastating consequences of lockdown isolation, fear for the future and global instabilities.
We know that schools, and the agencies that support them, are overwhelmed by the crisis they face.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because many of our children and young people are at breaking point, and teaching staff and support services are overwhelmed. Jesus is the hope for our future!
4. Staff need our support
When was the last time your church prayed for the teaching staff in your congregation, or outside it?
Teaching is a gift from God; it is one of the great privileges of life to teach, train and nurture others, to see people grow and flourish.
Our teachers need our prayer, support and encouragement. Could you, as a church community, send encouragement cards to teachers in your school at the beginning of the school year or at Christmas, as a way of speaking life and blessing over them?
Most people who come to faith do so between 4 and 14. In these years, a young person’s identity, values and purpose may be set for life
And as we pray for teaching staff, don’t forget all the non-teaching staff in schools, as well as the governors and all those who play their part in our school communities.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because teaching is a precious and powerful gift, and teachers play a crucial role in our schools.
5. Young people seeking to live for Jesus
This summer, thousands of young people gave their lives to Jesus at various Christian festivals. Many of those may have experienced defining moments, in which they sensed God’s calling on their lives.
I remember two young people, stirred by God at a Christian summer festival, telling me they wanted to start a prayer meeting when they returned home. For the next year, they gathered each Saturday morning with a group of their friends and a few other youth leaders, seeking God in prayer and worship.
There are young people all over the UK who are passionate about God and who want to live for him in their school. Let’s pray for them, cheer them on, encourage and serve them in any way we can.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because incredible young people are finding faith, sensing God’s calling and trying to live it out in our local schools.
On this National Day of Prayer for Schools can you join with us? Pray for your local school, but also allow God to break your heart for your community. Ask God how you might be able to serve. The day includes an early morning prayer Zoom at 7am, a call to action to prayer walk your community, in person and online prayer gatherings, and prayers for schools on the hour, every hour on the Youthscape and Pais UK social media pages.
The National Day of Prayer for Schools takes place on Thursday 22nd September 2022.