Recently, Ignition headed out on our annual winter retreat, Beyond Belief. Don’t judge me, but today, I FINALLY finished unpacking and redistributing, filing and organizing the leftover supplies. I had to stop at one point, because I found something buried in the biggest bin. No, not a leftover unidentifiable piece of food.
This something took my breath away.
As a part of that weekend, our students walk through a 2+hour worship and prayer experience. There are several stations, all of which are interactive in some way – playdoh to craft idols that are then smashed, river rocks to be pocketed as reminders to “Pray Continuously” (1 Thess 5:17), and building a paper chain of their own names so that they can pray for one another.
This year, we added a station where students could write a prayer for their school. “But,” you say, “kids HATE school, what would they pray for?” Honestly, I think I expected many requests for an “Act of God” to wipe them off the face of the earth, or perhaps that they would experience a kind of Left Behind, only in their version, only the teachers and administrators would be snatched up. Of course, not from the ones being homeschooled. Mostly.
Today, I found them. I vaguely remember gathering them up and thinking in my sleep deprived state, “I’ll want to read these later”. I’m so glad I did. Because, YOU will want to read these. Admittedly, I corrected some spelling – which only certifies them as truly kid-authored, and I added some emphasis where my heart stopped in my chest.
I pray and hope my friends turn to Jesus and God and that God will help them in their problems and keep them healthy – Christian or not.
I hope that students can have the courage to put all of their stress into God’s hands.
I pray that my school will become a safe environment for everyone. I also hope that people including me will make better decisions, say kind words that put people up instead of down.
Dear Lord, please help these kids find shelter in you. To help them end violence and stop bullying and addictions. I pray for GT kids to find you and relieve stress, to let go of their dark habits.
School is something I want to pray for because there are a lot of kids who are lost in life but don’t even know they are lost, including my friends.
I pray that you help kids at X and other schools overcome the problems they keep inside.
I pray I can spread God’s message through school and continue to help those who need comfort.
I pray for all the students and staff of X, that each person will have a chance to hear your Good News of Christ.
I pray that my friends will grow close to you and begin to form a relationship with you. I also pray that they might ask me about you even though I don’t know much. I hope they receive what they need from you and spread the word about you to their friends too.
I could keep going. All. Day. Long.
I am especially struck by the level of compassion and empathy expressed in these prayers. Even prayers semi-directed at self, were focused on increasing their influence, decision-making and service to others.
But for these students, prayer is the ultimate preventative medicine. Prayer brings hope before it is even lost. Prayer brings light, just as their world begins to dim, fighting back a curtain of darkness.
How many of us would have prayed any of these prayers in Middle School? High School? Yesterday? If you are like me, prayer is a lot like triage – trying to stop the bleeding of our own wounds. And that’s a legitimate thing.
But, what if we asked for an encounter with a friend that allows us to share the hope of Jesus, “even though [we] don’t know much”? What if we prayed to continue to be a source of comfort? What if we prayed for courage?
What if we prayed more like middle schoolers?