I worked in churches and at youth camps for a combined 13 years before coming to the high school I have been working at for five years, but I guarantee that any ministry I thought I was doing over those 13 years pales in comparison to the ministry that I have been able to do over these last five.
I have listened to students who would never darken the doors of a church, and who I would never have been exposed to in my previous ministry positions. I have bought food for, counseled, cried with, visited, gone to funerals for, witnessed to, hugged, and just listened to more students than my husband will be able to reach after a full-time career in youth ministry. These experiences have led me to three prayers:
1. Pray for your children’s/ student’s teachers and coaches whether they are in Sunday school, high school, college or even seminary.
We, as parents, have the primary responsibility to love and support our children, and to educate them as best we can. Proverbs 22:6 clearly states that we are to “train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” At the point where your children begin to make their own choices, their own friends and their own mistakes, pray that God will bring some positive “role models” into the lives of your children at church, at school, at work, wherever they will be learning the rest of their life skills. Our society is so busy, there are always practices, tutoring sessions and jobs for our children to go to, and there are plenty of people who may spend more time with your child than you are able to on a daily basis. Pray for these people.
I have found that most teachers are doing the best they can to just keep their heads above water as administrators and politicians and even presidents continually change their minds about the best way to educate our children. Pray for them. They need the support and the strength that God can provide them.
2. Pray for your children’s/ student’s friends.
After working in just one public high school, in just one state, I see plenty of students who do not have any support at home — kids who are aching for some love and attention, and who are willing to do all kinds of outlandish things to acquire it. I started praying for my son’s wife when he was a baby, but I failed to pray for his friends until he was well into his school years. I should have been more diligent about this because to teenagers, their friends are their life. They look to them for advice, for fashion sense, for examples, for just about everything. We, as parents, need to be vigilant about praying for the people our children choose to befriend.
3. Pray for your children/students.
The single most important thing we can do for our children is to dedicate them to the Lord, and to teach them that they can always rely on Him no matter what their circumstances. Prayer works, prayer changes things, and prayer is sometimes the only lifeline we have with our children. We have to grab onto it and seize it. Recently in our district, we had a student bring a weapon to school and our school went into lock-down for several hours. Because of the media and our ability to text, parents were aware of what was happening, but could do nothing to get to their children. Nothing helps put prayer back in school more than an armed intruder. But it should not take that to motivate us to pray for our children every day.
While I am in the shower each morning, I pray for my son and my husband. I pray that they will be obedient to God and look to Him for help throughout their day and their lives. It is essential that we take some time out of our day to pray for those we love and to tell them that we love them. It can be common practice to say mean and hurtful things to each other with no regard for how those words might be perceived. We need to take the time to bless our children before they leave our presence in the mornings. They need to know that we love them and that we care about the things they are doing. They may tell you they don’t care, but there will come a time when they will appreciate what you are doing for them. Until that time, pray for them because prayer can be our most valuable asset in the spiritual battlefields of middle school and high school.
Michelle Strickland lives in Kentucky. She works at a public high school and teaches 11th and 12th grade Sunday school each week. She and her husband have one biological son, Noah, and countless others who have adopted them as their parents.