This post is part of a monthly series on prayer, as “pray” is my Word of the Year for 2019. These posts share what I’m learning with hopes to encourage you in your own prayer life.
Each week, I enter into a sacred 30 minutes among students buzzing through the halls with backpacks, instruments, and stories to tell – as parents at my son’s school gather to pray. Parents have been doing it for years, I’m told, but I never participated until this year. Admittedly, my school drop-off attire usually isn’t for public display.
But as I felt led to focus on “pray” as my word of the year, I knew that joining this small group of corporate pray-ers needed to be a priority. In fact, the faithful mom who led the ministry for years was stepping aside and it allowed me to “head up” our weekly prayer meetings – which we re-initiated mid-school year.
I was nervous at first. Would anyone come? I know many parents are rushing off to work or other responsibilities. I bathed it in prayer – reassuring myself that God said “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). Frankly, if anybody showed up, I’d be pleased.
The first week there were eight parents – and I was thrilled! The numbers have ebbed and flowed – anywhere from three parents to 10 – but each time I walk away encouraged and strengthened. I offer a short devotional, then a few parents humbly seek God’s protection, guidance, and Spirit to permeate our school grounds.
It may seem like overkill to seek God’s hand over our small Christian school whose values are community, knowledge, faith, and character. The kids are already getting a lot of Jesus.
But spiritual warfare is no doubt taking place here as well as in our public schools. Students still struggle with peer pressure, sin, technology, friendships, family hurts, apathy, and more. Their poor choices may be more veiled, so the battle to instill grace and truth – among math, science, English, the arts, athletics – is real.
Teachers pour into their classrooms, then often return home on empty for their own families. They know their time and influence is brief, their mission urgent.
That’s why each week parents who gather recognize this sober calling to pray – to combine our drops of prayers, as E.M. Bounds put it, to create an “ocean which defies resistance.” We know the battle is not against flesh and blood, so our tools to fight that battle must be of a spiritual nature.
“Intercessory prayer is an intercontinental ballistic missile which God has placed in our hands. It can be fired to any spot on the face of the earth. It travels at the speed of thought and it always hits its target.”Harold Vaughan, Christ Life Ministries
We aren’t naive enough to believe that no troubles will come – in fact, the Bible assures us they will. But we can pray for the hearts of our children. For perseverance for our staff. For the homes the children and staff are returning to each afternoon.
Hearing Others Pray
Sometimes we can get stuck in our patterns – we pray a rote recitation at meal times, a quick bedtime prayer before we nod off. But this gathering of parents has offered some of the sweetest fragrant prayers I’ve heard. Just last week, four of us nervously sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” together, as we reminded ourselves that God cares for us and our children oh-so-very-much. We probably didn’t sing in the right key, or keep time perfectly, but singing of God’s care certainly felt like worship to me.
As I listen to others pray scripture over our children, the open hands and humble intercessions help me get “unstuck” in my own prayers. These new and not-so-new friends often tell how a sermon or podcast they listened to complement the verses that God has allowed me to share that week. Burdens from our children’s classrooms are shared.
An Offering and Open Expectations
Recently, all of the “regulars” couldn’t attend the prayer meeting. I was nervous to see who would show up, but I pledged to God that I’d stay and pray the whole 30 minutes even if it was just me. Over and over, I just kept offering up this time.
Three people came (including me) – this time, I met a new mom. In fact, almost every week someone new will come and my heart is encouraged. I’m able to meet parents with kids of all ages – I have a first grader, and our school continues through high school. I know child rearing weighs heavy on parents as kids get older and their decisions hold greater consequences. Our time to influence is shorter, our prayers more urgent.
And we know that our prayers aren’t in vain. The first week we met, a student realized their need for Jesus and accepted Him as Savior. My heart soared when I heard this! We pray because decisions are being made daily whether kids will choose the broad path that leads to destruction or the narrow way that leads to life.
We may never know the results of our prayers. We may never have more than 12 parents attend. It’s a small, but holy work – and every week I leave a little bit lighter, a little more hopeful. I offer up these 30 minutes to God, as I hold my plans loosely and trust Him to hear the praises and petitions of these parents’ hearts.
Somehow every week feels like a success – and I realize, then, that I need to approach things this way in more areas of my life:
- Make plans that align with God’s priorities.
- Hold my expectations with open hands.
- Walk in obedience regardless of the outcomes.
- Trust God with the results.
And as we take our own small steps of obedience – from prayer to loving others to doing hard things – may our children see our ways and turn their hearts toward God.
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. Proverbs 23:26