It’s that time of the year again. The time when we put away the beach bags and sunscreen and stock up on pencils, notebooks, and binders. The time when life goes from lazy summer afternoons to chaotic days of alarm clocks, packed schedules, athletic practices, and homework assignments. As we begin to launch another year of school, I’d like to share some ways that we, as parents, can pray for our children as students.
Back-to-school season is especially meaningful for me since I am both a mother and a public school teacher of middle school students. I understand the complex emotions and anxiety of dropping off your children to spend the majority of their days with strangers. The best way to combat this apprehension is to be proactive about the school year by praying specifically and effectively for the challenges our children will face in school.
I believe school is a prime setting for children to truly take ownership of their faith. It is here that students have the unique opportunity to apply God’s truth in real life situations. The phrase “godly character” has been heavy on my heart this week. While many see school (especially public school) as a place riddled with temptations to stumble and sin, we often forget that all of those potential landmines are also excellent opportunities to develop godly character.
I invite you to join me in praying over the following issues for our students this year.
1. That our children will stand against bullying and be voices of mercy and compassion.
Bullying has become a major buzz word in the media of late, and with good reason. It is widespread. In my experience, only a handful of students overtly bully others. The far more common issue is indirect bullying by laughing at (and therefore encouraging) the bully’s actions. The most common response is for students to sit silent and aloof as a fellow classmate is mocked and ridiculed. Encourage your children to take a stand, and pray that they will be a voice of compassion and mercy for those who are victimized.
2. That our children will find their identities in Christ instead of others’ opinions.
School can be such a toxic environment for identity formation. The natural instinct for students to compare themselves to classmates breeds jealousy, despair, and insecurity. If we do not teach our kids to take hold of their identities as God’s beloved children, they will accept as truth whatever identity labels they receive from classmates. Pray that they will learn to see themselves as God sees them and to understand how valuable they are to Him.
3. That our children will submit to authorities as unto Christ and resist rebellion.
This may seem self-serving coming from a teacher, but nothing is as detrimental to a child’s spiritual growth as rebellion against authority—no matter how subtle or “harmless” said rebellion may be. If children do not choose to submit to earthly authority, how will they ever submit to God? The Bible is full of stern warnings against rebellion:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment,” Romans 13: 1-2.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account,” Hebrews 13:17.
Pray that your children will understand that all authority is ordained by God for their own good. Lord, let them find joy in obedience as they submit to your ordained authority!
4. That our children will choose righteous companions.
These school years are so crucial for the spiritual development of your child. Your child will be shaped by his or her friends. Encourage your child to remain friendly and accepting of everyone, but teach them to reserve the “inner circle” of intimate friendship for those who are godly influences. This will sound unpopular to many, but I encourage parents to monitor the relationships your child chooses. Growing up, I remember several times that my parents directed me to step back from certain friends who were making poor choices. Looking back, I am so thankful now for their discernment and protection.
5. Lastly, I ask that you would pray for your children’s teachers.
Most of us are parents ourselves. All of us are human. We are imperfect and fallen. We will make mistakes this year. Please know that our hearts are for your children, and that we are on the same team. We are obviously not here for the money. We are here because we care about our students. Please pray that we will rise to the challenge and be worthy of the great responsibility that is pouring into the next generation. Pray that we will be good stewards of the lives God has entrusted to us.
*How are you praying for your kids this school year? Please leave a comment below!