When I was in 9th grade I remember looking for the flag pole to go to this new event on my school's campus. Our student ministry had been shown videos, posters and T-shirts, promoting a day of prayer. It was to be lead by students, who were concerned for fellow students spiritual status, teachers and their nation. We met. We prayed. We went to class. This continued for my next four years of High School.
Some how and in some time, now things have changed. Bands started showing up. Mass loads of donuts and OJ. Sound systems bumping religious music. Youth pastors began 'sharing'. Lots of fellowship. Lots of surprised looks on faces from SOME students that OTHER students show up. Occasional heckling from non-believers. And if there is time, prayer happens.
Two years ago, I was asked by a SYATP leadership team, "can you bring donuts and a sound system?" Which I obliged along with some other student ministries. Being asked to be there at a certain time, I promptly arrived. To my amazement, I was the first one there. The leadership arrived 10 minutes late. There was no urgency for the time of gathering students to pray. My though is, somewhere along the road, non-students, stepped in, gave too much advice, support and ideas and thus, the pushing out of the original focus of the day, a student led, student initiated day for prayer.
Last year, I happened to be out of town, but did provide an intern to supply with a sound system. This year, I have decided to treat SYATP differently and have communicated to several of my high school students, why they may not be seeing me that day among the student population as I have been in the past, with several other youth pastors.
I am challenging other student pastors and leaders to step back and allow SYATP return to a very raw organic form of student initiated prayer. To encourage students to not turn this event into a mimic of a Wednesday Night Student Ministry Service, or an extension of the campus's religious club. I will support them and encourage them, before and after SYATP and every day following. I will encourage them to step up, practice Christlike living (Philippians 4:8-9), living a life that in ALL ways would point to Christ. But THEY still have to be the ones to stand up and do it; on their campuses, in the heat of the battles, in the face of temptations and various persecutions. No amounts of donuts, breakfast bars, milk or OJ is going to help. What will help? Prayer.
If you are a student pastor, if you are a leader of students, if you are a student who is a leader, if you are a parent, please consider the ultimate reason for See You At The Pole. -Prayer. Student Pastor and Parent, possibly, should you step away from current expectations to make SYATP just another EVENT where we try to get as many kids to show up as possible and awkwardly pray for a quick moment? Or should we hope that this day becomes a moment in time, when students, concerned about the glory of God, showed up to pray and plea with God for His Spirit to move in a life changing way in their lives and on their campus.
Below is a brief list that a student at SYATP may find helpful for them to have a focused time of prayer with other believers. In no way is it exhaustive. Parents and Student Leaders, consider providing your children or students with such a list and encourage them to be spiritual leaders on their campus', leading other students in a time of prayer.
-pray that God's glory be known on your campus this year
-pray for fellow Christian classmates (that they will grow in their Christian walk, boldness to speak out about their faith, that they will lights in a dark world)
-pray for fellow Christian teachers (that they are able to live out their faith, to encourage students, to be a model of a Christ follower)
-pray for fellow Christian administrators (that they remain true to their faith in the daily struggles of their jobs)
-pray for students who will hear the message of the Gospel this school year
-pray for the message of the Gospel to be heard and understood, that the Holy Spirit will have freedom to move in lives
-pray for the seniors who will be moving on
-pray for the new students who have moved to our community
-pray for the international student who is trying to adjust to life in a new culture and language
-pray for the police officers who serve on the campus
-pray for the other school campuses
-pray for parents and families
-pray for those students who will face tragedy this school year
-pray for yourself (that you will move when God tells you to move, that you will have eyes to see those hurting around you, that you will pursue God's glory in all parts of your life)
(I just want students and other leaders to consider the purpose of what happens on the fourth Wednesday of September each year on campuses all over the world. To revisit the idea of it being a meeting of praying people.)
Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Student Pastor, and Lover of all things Garlic and Bacon.