In the excitement of new book bags, the flurry of buying new notebooks, and trying on new school clothes, let's not forget the most important school supply of all: prayer for our children.
Public school, private school, Christian school, homeschool -- it doesn't matter -- kids today feel an enormous amount of pressure. The desire to make friends, fit in, do well on tests, do well on the SAT and ACT, get into their first pick of college, they need prayer. Even my little second grader feels the pressure -- if not in the classroom, then certainly on the playground.
As we stock up on folders, pencils, and erasers, let's look at five ways in which we can lift children in prayer as they start another school year -- and make a concerted effort to continue praying for them.
Pray first and foremost for protection. Kids need to be surrounded by prayer to protect them from false doctrine -- it doesn't matter what kind of school they attend. Christian schools are not immune to false doctrine -- and not all kids who go to Christian schools are, in fact, followers of Christ. Peer pressure is alive and well in all schools.
Having said that, if you choose to send your child to public school, make sure they know Whose they are. Ensure they are grounded in the faith at home and in a Bible-believing church, Sunday School class, and youth group. They cannot be the Light of Christ in public school if their bulb is burned out, or non-existent. If you homeschool your child, be sure they also know why you chose that route, so they can answer people who will surely ask why they aren't "in school." People don't understand that a trip to the grocery store between the hours of 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. can be just as instructional as sitting in a classroom.
Also pray that God would protect your child from bullying (either being the target or being the aggressor). Bullying is a scourge in schools and it exists on playgrounds, in classrooms, hallways, on social media, and via texting. Parents, be extremely cautious in getting middle schoolers smart phones. Between ready access to pornography, the ability to cheat on tests, bullying, and distracting games, they're just not worth it. Nothing wrong with a flip phone!
For high schoolers, have set guidelines in place. Know your child's passwords for every social media account and app. Befriend them on everything. You want to see what they're into? Befriend their friends as well. Pray for protection from false friends who will lead them down paths of destruction.
Pray that your child will concentrate on school and homework. Ask teachers for testing schedules so you can pray for your child on those days. Praying for your kid is as important as ensuring they rest well the night before and eat a good breakfast the day of the test.
Homeschoolers, pray concentration over your children too. Sometimes home life can be incredibly distracting -- between chores, siblings, the temptations of television and toys -- they need prayer too. Invest in some good books on CD on topics they are learning about, and if you have to run errands, listen to that book-on-CD. Some vehicles have DVD players in them -- why not borrow appropriate learning DVDs from the library and run them in the car as you travel? Sometimes, kids will concentrate more on instructional audio disks or movies if they're a captive audience, so to speak.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide them in making friends. This goes back to protection -- know their friends and their friends' parents. Befriend the parents on social media and ask for phone numbers. Have the parents and kids over for dinner. Be hospitable to your child's friends -- be the house where everyone wants to hang out. If that means having a video game system, pool table, or pool -- so be it. If that means having make-your-own pizza night, go for it.
In order to be the Light of Christ for our kids, we have to be willing to shine to their friends, too.
I homeschooled my little girl for the first part of her kindergarten year, then my husband was shot and paralyzed. With his care, it just became too much. So with much prayer, we made the decision to send her to public school. The very first day, she walked in her classroom and shared Jesus (at five years old!) with her table-mates. She would pray over her lunch. It didn't matter that corporate prayer wasn't allowed -- she was praying individually.
It doesn't matter what kind of school we send our kids too -- we need to pray that they would grow in Christ. Luke 2:52 states, "...and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." We need to pray too that kids would grow in the wisdom of God and in His favor. We need to pray that our children would grow to have a reputation with their peers and teachers of being kind and showing others the Holy Spirit within them.
Listen, parents -- don't be afraid to lead your child to Christ. If they can understand 4 + 4 = 8 and that North America is a continent, then they can understand that Jesus, the Son of God, lived. They can understand that He can save them, and they can accept Him as their Savior. They understand a lot more than we give them credit for -- because they do so without question, and with the faith of a child.
Pray for their teachers. Oh, this is so important. Teachers aren't paid well enough at all in this country and face a mountain of work. Pray for them. Send them encouraging notes and emails. Listen: buy something on their wishlist. If they need paper, buy it. Right now stores have reams of paper for under $3.00. Stock up for yourself and get a couple reams for the teacher.
If you have a teacher supply store in your town, get them a $20 gift card for the start of school. While you're at it, get them a coffee house gift card too. You're not buying your kid good grades -- you're showing your child's teacher you appreciate them.
If you're a pastor and you have homeshooling families in your church -- recognize them. Offer empty Sunday School classrooms as a nice change of scenery to them, or the gym for once-a-week physical education classes.
Lastly, I've made a refrigerator-friendly PDF of these different ways to pray for your child throughout the school year, and it's available when you subscribe to Near Your Altar's emailed subscriber letter. To subscribe, just click here. I just email once a week, so I'm not flooding your in-box, but I do offer subscriber-only freebies and encouragement.
Happy School Year! May it be filled with the peace and presence of Christ!
Love in Him,
(C) 2017 Terrie Bentley McKee
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