John Prockter takes Jesus’ reminder that ‘without me you can do nothing’ seriously, and suggests you do too

Prayer is probably among the top three most dull activities in the church. It must be. Bring-and-share lunches always pull a great crowd; family services are always packed, even church clear out, and spring clean days get a good group along. Though prayer meetings generally only get a good turnout when there’s the promise of a good worship leader or a nice piece of cake.

I say this with love, and I say it doubly to myself. We really are a useless bunch, aren’t we?

One of my very good friends in schools ministry is a lady called Jane Newey. Jane has been inspiring me in the area of prayer for many years. It just so happens that Jane is also the Pray for Schools England Coordinator. She recently reminded me to keep prayer at the top of the agenda in schools ministry. She’s so right!

I, like many of you, am very keen to prepare for practical activity in schools but often forget to prioritise deep, significant, wrap-around prayer.




Missional prayer support

When I visit churches to talk about the missional work I do in schools, I’m always struck by how hard it is for the congregation to understand what I’m saying or how they can get involved with me—many struggle to ever really understand. Unfortunately, there is a genuine barrier, and there probably needs to be. We can’t have spectators come with us, and we can’t take many, if any photos of what our work looks like. Unfortunately, being unable to show people exactly what we do creates barriers I’ve felt throughout my 26-year career. Even now, there’s a church I’ve been visiting for thirteen years to share stories, and people will tell me they still don’t really understand.

To these people, I often say, “You need to join our prayer chain so you can find out more”. But in all honesty, that isn’t the answer. We need people who will journey with those who work in schools. We need people who will commit to hearing about the highs and lows, who will come and pray with and for us, allowing us to speak truthfully about experiences and how we’re coping.

We also need people who will take the institution of education seriously enough to pray, and this is where my conversation with Jane comes into sharp focus.

Jane’s vision is for every school to be a prayed-for school. In fact, that’s the entire vision of Pray for Schools. They aim to mobilise Christians to support their school communities through prayer, and I think we need to listen to them.


Why pray for schools?

Recently, I became a governor of a primary school. I was shocked, even as someone who works professionally in the area of education, to hear that schools were being encouraged to take responsibility for things like brushing children’s teeth. Headteachers act as heads of community with masses of authority but also scrutiny, with multiple layers of analysis to prove they’re running good schools.

At their best, schools are a wonderful expression of community. Still, at their worse, they’re a pressure cooker of stress for overworked staff who are doing their best to raise an entire community of kids. Here’s the truth, education is God-given, and the community of education professionals need our focused, consistent prayerful support. After all, our fight is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.


How to pray for schools

It seems a little flippant to say, but you can literally just get on with praying now, but there are ways to be more strategic too. Pray for schools, for example, are advocating for nationwide series of ‘pray for our schools’ events that we can all take part with. Thankfully, they’ve produced a seven-step plan to help us do that, and I for one, would like to encourage you to take a serious look at your school’s work schedule and the amount of people involved in praying for you and your schools. This could be the perfect time to shake your prayer strategy up to make prayer a top-three church activity again.




7-step plan for your ‘Pray for our Schools’ event


Bring together a team

  • Find as many different representatives from local churches as possible
  • Balance visionaries, strategists and doers
  • Underline everything with prayer
  • Work out a budget and where funding can be found


Determine the date and venue

  • Strike while the iron is hot, and plan for the Autumn term
  • It could be in a school or church or a more neutral building. Hopefully free of charge


Identify contributors and invite them

  • Worship leader/band – preferably including young people
  • Christians working in schools
  • Representatives of youth/schoolwork organisations
  • Local church leader. (e.g. someone attached to a church school)
  • Someone inspiring to bring short words encouraging prayer


Get invitations and other publicity out

  • See our template invitation letter
  • Make a list of people to invite
  • Social Media
  • Flyer or additional info for churches
  • Plan reminders and monitor responses


Organise practical things – delegating responsibility among the group

  • Seating and setting out prayer stations
  • Refreshments
  • Sound and lighting
  • Welcome team
  • Contact contributors emphasising timings and other expectations


Be faithful in prayer for the event

  • Give someone the responsibility to make this a reality
  • Be specific about what you are asking God to do
  • Ask those planning to come to pray beforehand
  • WhatsApp prayer group
  • Social Media prayer points


  • Think about follow-up

  • Include a list of ongoing actions people can take as part of the programme
  • Set a date for another evening – perhaps in a different setting
  • Make a way for people to give feedback, answers to prayer and share requests
  • Support those working and volunteering in schools
  • Encourage prayer groups for individual schools


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