Pete Baker believes praying for schools and ministry in and around schools is a vital part of reaching the many children and young people who don’t know God.
In 2020, we felt stirred to initiate the National Day of Prayer for Schools. We know many have been praying for schools for decades across the UK and we know that Christians play a huge, active role in the schools in our communities but, as the unknowns of 2020 hit the UK, we could see that children, young people, families and school communities were suffering massively. This led us to pray and to call others across the UK to pray for their schools.
One of my personal passions and dreams is that one day every school in the UK would have a church or a group of Christians praying for it and actively seeking to serve it.
Imagine that: every school prayed for, every school served, Christians stirred, mobilised and equipped to pray for the schools in their communities. We understand 95 percent of young people are not actively engaged in a local church, but 99 percent of young people are in mainstream education.
If we’re going to shape the nation, we need to learn how to serve schools and serving schools starts in prayer!
The wonderful team at Pray for Schools have been inspiring and mobilising people across the UK to make sure every school is a prayed for school, and I join them in this mission. Please do connect with them and check out their resources on their website.
On this National Day of Prayer for Schools on 22nd September, can you join with us to pray for schools, but also allow God to break your heart for your community and for you to ask how you might be able to serve the schools of your community.
To join in, you can visit the Day of Prayer pages on the Pais Movement and Youthscape websites. The day includes an early-morning prayer Zoom, a call to action to prayer walk your community, in-person and online prayer gatherings and prayers for schools shared by Pais and Youthscape across social media (@pais_uk and @youthscape).
After being involved in schools’ ministry for over 20 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are truly going to shape the nation for the kingdom of God, then we need to learn how to serve our schools.
Here are five reasons to pray for your schools!
1 Prayer is powerful!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective!” James 5:16.
We believe in the power of prayer. Prayer is a way of aligning ourselves with the heart of God and we believe that God’s heart is moved for the children and young people of our nation. God is on the move in the lives of our children and young people and prayer enables us to join in with what God is doing.
Prayer is often humans trying to bend God’s will to ours, but one of the beautiful mysteries that happens in prayer is that God’s will becomes our will, God’s desires become our desires as we say yes to him.
One of the keys to transforming our communities is to allow God to break our hearts for our communities, for our schools, for the children and young people in our communities.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because prayer is powerful!
2 Formative years
One of the great privileges of schools’ ministry is the recognition that most people who come to faith do so between the ages of four and 14. Children and young people are in the most formative years of their lives, during which time their worldviews are shaped and their image of God is either built up or shattered.
In these crucial years a young person’s identity, values and purpose are formed and may be set for the rest of their days.
The Church can play a massive role in praying for, supporting and serving children, young people, families, church workers that engage in schools, Christian teachers, school staff, chaplains, counsellors, governors and educationalists who are part of our church communities.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because in these school years a nation of young hearts and minds are being formed!
3 Mental-health crisis
The current mental-health crisis among children and young people is one of the most devastating consequences of lockdowns, isolation, fear for the future and global instabilities.
We know that schools and agencies that support schools are overwhelmed by the crisis they face.
For some excellent resources to help you support young people in this crisis, go to Youthscape, the Mind and Soul Foundation or Be Headstrong.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because many of our children and young people are at breaking point and our teaching staff are overwhelmed.
4 Teaching staff need our support
When was the last time your church prayed for the teaching staff in your congregation? When was the last time your church prayed for the teaching staff not in your congregation?
Teaching is a gift from God; it is one of the great privileges of life to teach, train and nurture others, to see people grow and flourish!
Our teachers need our prayer, support and encouragement. Could you as a church community send encouragement cards to teachers in your local school as this school year gets going or maybe at Christmas as a way of speaking life and blessing over those teaching staff?
And as we pray for teaching staff, don’t forget all the non-teaching staff in schools, the governors and all those who play their part in school communities.
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because teaching is a precious and powerful gift and calling, and teachers play a crucial role in our schools: pray for them.
5 Young people seeking to live for Jesus
This summer thousands of young people gave their lives to Jesus at various Christian festivals and smaller events. Many of those young people would have had defining moments where they sensed God’s calling.
I remember two young people coming to me, stirred by God at a Christian summer festival, telling me they wanted to start a prayer meeting when we returned to Burnley. For the next year these two young people, a group of their friends and a few other youth leaders gathered each Saturday morning, seeking God in prayer and worship.
There are young people all over the UK who are passionate about God and want to live for God in their school. Let’s pray for them! Let’s cheer them on, encourage them and serve them in any way we can!
Why do we need to pray for schools? Because incredible young people are finding faith, sensing God’s calling and trying to live it out in our local schools, pray for them!