Three years ago, I was invited to join a prayer group that was made up of moms from my children’s public school. Some people jump at the chance to pray out loud in front of others; I am not one of those people. I am like a child in a round-robin reading lesson looking ahead to see when it will be my turn. My mind races with thoughts of eloquent, Scripture-infused words, but then my mouth speaks in stutters and incomplete sentences. Apprehensively, I attended the first meeting; reluctantly, I went back every other Tuesday for the remainder of the school year. Like any relationship, it takes time to find your niche, where you belong and how you contribute to a group. Fast-forwarding to the present day, no more eloquent than I was three years ago, I find that I look forward to the Tuesdays that begin with our prayer group. In the crazy frazzled mess of days that I live, the brief time that I am with my ladies brings a sense of peace that can only come from above. Sitting back, closing my eyes, and listening as we petition for one another’s children, praising God for the gifts that we have been given, and confessing our weaknesses fills me in a way that parking-lot conversations will never.
Our group knows the significance behind regularly committing time to pray for the students, teachers, staff, and calendar events that take place on school campuses. We bring each teacher and staff member before the Lord, we pray for the outgoing eighth-grade students, we ask God to provide safety on and off our campus. Most especially, we ask that those on the campus who know the saving grace of Jesus be a light in the darkness of other people’s lives. When we commit to regularly praying for the school as a whole, it is very difficult to turn and slander one of its members. Rather, our regular prayer allows us to see through a clearer view as to how we can support one another in love. One of my favorite prayer meetings is the last one of the school year. Not because I get the summer off—although, I am a teacher, so I love my summer vacation! No, I enjoy the last meeting because we review the prayers from the entire school year. I love basking in the sound of God’s answers to our prayers.
We understand the need for parents to engage with one another in a safe place. I’m not going to lie; many a meeting begins with the “what’s wrong” conversation. The beauty is that in the end we are taking those conversations to the Lord and asking for His divine resolution. We laugh and cry in the presence of God. We support one another through struggles and triumphs. We see one another on campus and are reminded to pray between meetings. We develop philia that sustains us and lifts our hearts out of the depths.
In a time where the belief is that public schools do not acknowledge the presence of God, I am certain that He has perfect attendance. Not only because when two or three are gathered in His name, He is there with them (Matthew 18:20) but also because God loves our public-school children. He loves the unbelieving teacher, parent, and student as much as He loves the believing ones. Neither height, nor depth, nor public education can separate us from the love of God.