Praying for schools
It can be easy to 'forget' the importance, or indeed the power of prayer when thinking about supporting local schools.
Committing to pray regularly for the local school is a very effective way of getting involved and offering support. Forming or joining a local prayer group makes that commitment easier, providing you with the joy and encouragement of meeting with others and sharing answers to prayer.
School prayer groups vary from place to place; some meet to pray for just one local school; others meet to pray for all the schools in the locality. The organisation Pray for Schools aims to stimulate and encourage committed prayer for every school in the UK. There are currently over 2000 groups registered. For more information about setting up a school prayer group, see www.prayforschools.org.
Church members who are unable to have a 'hands-on' involvement with the local school are often very willing and able to support the school through prayer.
Generally schools are happy to know that they are being supported in this way, even if they don't actually believe that prayer is effective. You should contact the headteacher to let him or her know about the group, and ask if there are specific prayer requests. Assure them about confidentiality and invite them to give you general topics to pray about, without naming individuals in need.
Some prayer groups meet on school premises, others at a local church or in homes. Some meet during the day, others meet before school, after school or in the evenings. The frequency of meeting depends on the time available for the members, ranging from weekly to termly. Once you begin a prayer group, you are likely to find support among Christian parents, teachers, governors, pupils and local church members.
Confidentiality is essential: pray about 'a pupil' or 'a member of staff' rather than naming names.
- The Prayer for Teachers Group at St Mary with St Matthew in Cheltenham consists of about seven members who are concerned with matters of education and with praying confidentially for members of the church who are involved in education. It has been a real privilege to co-ordinate this group as we have seen amazing answers to specific, persistent prayer. Many have testified to what a difference it makes as the Lord has answered prayer in difficult and faith-stretching circumstances. Meeting three times a term and communicating between prayer sessions by phone and e-mail keeps us current, and the meetings are announced regularly in the church newsheet.
- The Cheltenham Prayer for Schools Network (CPFSN) started in May 2000. The leaders of established school prayer groups decided to meet monthly to ensure every school in the town has regular, committed Christian prayer. We began to pray regularly, by name, for every school with a Cheltenham telephone number. We discovered that there were already 12 school prayer groups in existence and we started talking about our vision with Christian teachers and parents that we knew in other schools.
To help launch the prayer network, we invited CARE to lead two Schools Prayer Events which attracted over a hundred people, emphasising the need for a regular larger prayer meeting. Since Spring 2002, we have held a CPFSN prayer meeting once a term - hosted by a different school each time. We have found that praying with Christians from different church traditions is an enriching experience and the input at these meetings enlarges our vision for prayer. Each term a prayer letter is sent to all the prayer groups.
A small team of people support those who want to mobilise prayer for specific schools and we have put together an 'Ideas for schools prayer groups' booklet. We have invaluable prayer back-up from home intercessors who pray on their own for every school and prayer group leader by name. They receive a regular letter updating them on answers to prayer and CPFSN prayer points.