As a mom, I work hard to care for my children. I do my best to ensure that they eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. I encourage them to exercise regularly, through fun activities they enjoy. I buy them clothes and shoes and school supplies. I help them with their homework and participate in their school events. I take them to interesting places, both local and far away, to learn about our world, to discover the beauty of art, and experience different cultures.
But far and away, the greatest thing I can do for my children is something they aren’t even aware of. I pray for them.
Once a week, or sometimes every other week, I gather with other moms to pray for our children, their schools, and their teachers. For a solid hour, we commit our children to the very God who created them, praying His words and His truth over them. Over the course of a school year, we pray for every single staff member – including administration and support staff – by name. We pray for school events and school teams and the PTO. We pray for our volunteers and for sick children and for the school board. We pray for bond elections and school board elections and zoning changes. We pray…because it matters.
At the beginning of each school year, whenever possible we arrange a prayer walk around our children’s schools. This year, I had the privilege of prayerwalking two schools for the very first time. Though our groups were small in number – only four of us at each location – the effect was mighty and powerful. Though the methods were vastly different, the results were undeniably the same.
I’ll share specific details below the fold, details of what prayerwalking is, how to structure a prayer walk for your child’s school, and suggestions of prayer items and topics. But before I do, let me urge my fellow moms: get involved. Find a group and plug in. Don’t let fear of praying out loud stop you from coming. There is no better way to care for your children than to pray for them. Your eyes may leak, your knees may grow calloused (literally or metaphorically), but I promise, you will look at your children differently. You will be changed. And so will your children.
What is prayerwalking?
Exactly what it sounds like. Walking and praying at the same time. Except when prayerwalking, it’s best to keep your eyes OPEN. God’s okay with that.
How do you prayerwalk around your child’s school?
The beauty of prayerwalking is that it doesn’t require anyone but yourself. But it’s so much more powerful when you can join with other moms to prayerwalk together. Though there are many ways to prayerwalk, the method I’ve used is to simply walk the perimeter of the building, praying as I go. I usually pray out loud, but you can pray silently. Praying aloud keeps me focused on actually praying and not allowing my mind to wander.
While there are several options for a group prayerwalk, I’ve experienced two that seem to work very well. One option is to gather the group at a central location: outside the school’s entrance, at the flagpole, in a parking lot, near the bike rack, by a garden. Begin by praying together. Allow group members to offer short, general prayers – only a couple of sentences – for the upcoming school year. You will have lots of time for specifics during the prayer walk itself! After everyone has had the opportunity to pray, close the group prayer and release the participants to begin the prayer walk at their pace. You can provide prayer guides, or just let them pray on their own. A second option is to prayerwalk together, in small groups of between 2-5 people. As you walk, group members offer sentence prayers in a stream-of-consciousness method. No interrupting or praying over each other, but taking turns as things come to mind. At the end of the prayer walk, close with a short prayer together.
What in the world do you pray for for an HOUR??
Whatever you want. No, not quite. But almost.
At one Moms in Prayer rally, I heard this analogy: when our children are babies, we give them baths, whether or not they are truly “dirty”. We carefully wash every single fold of skin, between their tiny toes. We gently scrub their little faces and even wash those meager wisps of super-soft baby hair. We don’t stop until we are satisfied that our baby is “clean.” With Moms in Prayer, we are doing the same thing, except that instead of bathing our children in soap and water, we’re bathing them in prayer. We are covering every nook and cranny of their entire being with the powerful cleansing and covering that prayer provides. As we prayerwalk, we are doing the same thing for our children’s schools. With proper focus, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we can literally bathe our schools with Living Water.
As I was preparing for the prayer walk at the middle school, the following list came to mind. Of course, you can modify the list to fit the specific needs, population, or geography of your school.
At the front entrance:
- safety at drop-off/pick-up
- for the staff/students who assist with carpool lines
- for students to be glad and excited to come to school every day, and for teachers that are glad and excited to see them
- that the school will be a safe haven for those who walk through its doors
- that the school will be a center of community engagement
- for protection from any evil that would seek to enter its doors
- for those students who are entering the school for the first time
- for the older students to be good leaders and role models for the younger students
Along the academic wing(s):
- for new teachers to be welcomed in to the school community, and to quickly adjust to the rigors of teaching
- that the teachers will have wisdom to know how to best meet the educational needs of their students
- for protection for the teachers’ families, their spouses and children; that the time they spend pouring into other people’s children will be returned to them with their own; that their marriages will not suffer because of their jobs
- for creativity as they prepare their rooms and plan their lessons
- for encouragement as they spend many, many hours in training at this time of year; that they will be infused with fresh new ideas that will help them be better teachers
At the cafeteria:
- for the cafeteria workers themselves – protection as they deal with hot dishes and sharp tools; also for them to find value and meaning in the work they do and the service they provide to our children
- that food will be prepared safely – no food-borne illnesses or contaminations
- for those children who come to school hungry each day; that not only their physical bodies will be nourished but also their souls
- for those children who are on free/reduced lunch; for provision for their families, whatever the situation might be
- for the many activities that will take place in the cafetorium throughout the year: for them to be safe, fun, healthy events to build school spirit, pride, and a sense of community; that parents will be involved in supporting their children’s efforts and encouraging of their progress; for the volunteers that will be assisting with those events
At the gym/athletic facility:
- for safety for all the athletes who will be participating in sports events throughout the year; that any injuries that do happen will be easily treatable and quickly healed
- for protection in the locker rooms: protection of students’ property as well as their person; for unity among team members as they meet there before and after games and events
- for an end to bullying, that students will treat one another with respect and acceptance, despite their differences; for courage for witnesses to take a stand for what is right and defend the weak
- for our students to develop strong bodies as well as strong minds; for those students for whom physical activity is a necessary avenue to learning
- for the coaches, trainers, equipment managers, scorekeepers/statisticians and all those involved in running a successful athletic program; for wisdom and unity among the leaders, for discernment in handling issues of integrity, for patience and self-control in dealing with stressful situations and people
- that your school’s teams will be a model of good sportsmanship wherever they are; that they will represent themselves, their school, and their community well
- for the spectators at sports events to demonstrate good sportsmanship; for no fighting or name-calling in the stands or in the parking lot
- that these activities will build strong character into our children; that they will develop qualities of perseverance, diligence, determination, self-control, teamwork, and leadership through their athletic experiences.
At the Fine Arts/Music/Art rooms:
- for students to learn to appreciate the beauty of the world God created, and to see Him in it.
- that God will be glorified through art, music, dance, and theater
- for discernment on the musical, theatrical, and artistic selections; that what is chosen to be performed will resonate with truth, and celebrate goodness, purity, and righteousness
- pray for protection of equipment and facilities
At the Vocational/Technical/Career Education facilities:
- for students to discover their God-given abilities and use them in a productive way; that these students will be positive contributors to society
- for safety around the equipment/chemicals they will be using to learn their craft/trade
- for positive relationships with the supervisors/advisors/teachers
At the school crosswalk, bus stop, or bike racks:
- for protection for children who may be crossing busy streets to get to school
- for protection for the crossing guards from the elements as well as from vehicles; for their health as they endure everything from blazing heat to bitter cold; that they will be spared from any severe weather during the time they are on duty
- that the buses will work consistently all year long, with no mechanical failures
- for the bus drivers to be able to do their job well, and control the students appropriately; for protection for all the bus students from bullying
At the front office or administrative wing:
- for wisdom and integrity for the school administration; for grace and patience to deal with the many family dynamics and difficult situations they are exposed to throughout the school year; for safety as they deal with unhappy parents or troubled students
- that school leaders will have the courage to stand for what is right and be an ambassador of that to students
- for the counselors: that they will have the wisdom and insight necessary to guide their students into the appropriate course selections and career choices; that they will be able to be a trusted friend or mentor to those students who are struggling with emotional, behavioral, or mental issues
- for unity among the leadership, that they will work well together and support one another
- for protection for our front office staff, as they are the front lines of our schools; for the registrars and office clerks, who have the difficult tasks of managing student records and attendance, that they will be effective communicators to parents and students
- for our school nurses, that they will be strengthened to care for the students; that they will have the skill and ability to provide the appropriate care for all the unique medical conditions represented in the student body; for protection over the spread of viruses or infestations throughout the student body; for health, and for qualified replacements to be found in their absence.
At the dumpsters/custodial storage room:
- for the custodial/janitorial staff, that they will take pride in their work and do their work thoroughly
- that we will be good stewards of the materials, food, and resources we are given and not be wasteful
- that the school will be kept clean to inhibit the spread of disease or infection
- for the various clubs and extra-curricular activities that students will be involved with, that they will be productive and promote positive attitudes and skills; for the sponsors and parent volunteers, that this will be something they enjoy and look forward to, and that they will be able to develop appropriate and positive relationships with the students
- for field trips and off-campus events; for safety for the buses as they travel; for these experiences to enrich our students’ lives, particularly those for whom field trips are their only opportunities to have these experiences.
- for SRO’s (School Resource Officers) and safety personnel
- for PTO and its volunteers, that the activities they plan will be safe and fun; for funds to be used wisely and productively; for integrity and unity among the PTO board members.
- for school fundraising opportunities, that people will be receptive and generous, and that the programs will be adequately supported; for safety for students as they solicit donations
- for an end to drug use and drug dealing at our schools
- for those children who are in after-school care programs, that they will experience quality time with their families each day; for their parents as they balance the demands of working and caring for a family; for the workers to be able to provide a quality program for the children
- for the school facility itself: for the cooling and heating systems to work, for electrical and plumbing systems to be safe and operational every moment the school doors are open, for the alarms and fire safety systems to work effectively when needed to ensure our children’s safety
In the midst of all this, don’t forget to thank God, too! And while this list is far from comprehensive, you can see there is easily enough to keep you busy praying for an hour…or more!
So, I dare you. I dare you to give this a try. Take this list, and if you’re uncomfortable praying aloud, or feel like you can’t pray out loud, then simply read it with the words “God, I pray” before every section. See if it doesn’t make your heart a little more tender. See if it doesn’t make your eyes a little leaky. But most of all, see if it doesn’t make miracles happen, and God do amazing things…because you prayed.