Back to School Prayer Guide

Saturday, August 7, 2021 / 9am to 6pm
The Gallery at Athens Church

Introduction
Each year as we prepare for this Back to School Prayer Vigil, I am reminded of the hope and promise wrapped up in these students. Jesus had faith in children when even the disciples did not. Today we have the privilege of coming before God in prayer for these children agreeing with Jesus, “the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16). As you pray today, let the certainty of Christ fill you with faith. Stand firm in your prayers that this generation belongs not to this world, but to Jesus Christ. Let us stand together in prayer surrounding each of these students that we would see through them, God’s “Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). All Scripture used in this guide is taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.

The purpose of this guide is to launch you into prayer however the Lord would lead you to pray for the students, faculty and schools in our city. Please use it as a reference now and whenever God brings these groups back to your mind to help you target your prayers and speak in unity with others praying. The majority of these topics are focused toward the public school system because the majority of students attend public school. There are a few sections that specifically address private and home school students and teachers as well. We encourage you to pray for each group as you ask God to move, believing every student matters and every prayer can bring Heaven to earth! Please take some time to pray for the students you feel most connected to- those in certain activities, with special needs, in specific family circumstances, they did not come to your mind by accident!

One last thing, it is our desire that on every campus and at every school, there would be a spirit filled witness for Christ. Ultimately, we are praying for every student and their teachers and faculty, from elementary through college, would come to a saving, life transforming, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That, we believe is God’s will.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT)
This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

To begin, let us thank God for the hope, promise, and redemption He continually reveals to us through scripture, testimony, and new beginnings. Thank God for specific moments you have experienced His renewed hope or faith in an area you felt “tapped out” on your own. Thank God for examples in scripture of moments too far gone by man’s standards where God brought about deliverance, salvation and redemption. (Romans 5:1-5)

Let us declare hope wrapped up in Christ Jesus in what lies ahead for each and every student. Speak out loud during this prayer time the promises of Scripture over every student:

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and do not forbid them to come to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead those who are blind by a way they have not known, in paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them and uneven land into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.

Job 14:7
For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail.

Ephesians 1:13-14
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

1 Peter 1:13-15
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Transition from virtual school

As students adjust to returning to the school building, focusing in longer stints and having physical interactions with others, let’s ask God to ease the transition and reveal Himself as the Constant One.

Malachi 3:6
For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, the sons of Jacob have not come to an end.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.

Ask God to draw near to any teacher, parent or student who calls on His name for help, even if they don’t have faith He will. Ask God to flood every classroom or teaching space with grace to communicate clearly and understand fully, that students would hear and accept boundaries and instruction without confusion or rebellion.

Joel 2:32
And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

James 4:8
Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Especially for students who have difficulty adjusting, let’s ask God to offer comfort and grace to each student and teacher. Ask God for patience and compassion to fill teachers in a supernatural way, that each must recognize the power of God helping them love students. Ask God to protect students from being labeled as “behavioral trouble” and connect them with whatever they need to transition in a healthy way.

For those transitioning from one style/system of schooling to another, ask God to lead students into pleasant places where they are secure. For parents who have changed schooling based on conviction or leadership from God, ask God to confirm their decision and His instruction (Psalm 16:5-7). Ask Him to guard students from bitterness and comparison and to set their feet in firm places of connection and community that will lead to Jesus.

Psalm 16:5-8
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The measuring lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, my inheritance is beautiful to me. I will bless the Lord who has advised me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.  I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Ask God to shelter and defend homeschooling parents and teachers who battle pride saying they alone are the hope or savior for their student(s). Ask for a renewed desperation and dependence on the Holy Spirit as the Teacher, and on Jesus as the only Savior.

Psalm 91:2-4
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who rescues you from the net of the trapper and from the deadly plague. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and wall.

Isaiah 43:10-11
You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.  I, only I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me.

Ask for non-believing teachers to become aware of their lack and encounter students or other staff who will speak and demonstrate the power of trusting Jesus to save and strengthen them. Ask God to expose the lie of self-sufficiency and make clear the readiness of Christ to save. Ask the Father to protect students in this process, that pride, accusation and fear would hold no place in the classroom as God does a work of salvation.

Basics of a new school year

Safety
Let’s ask God to protect our kids in every way- physical safety, keeping them healthy, protecting their innocence and hunger to learn. Ask God to watch over each child as they come and go, make decisions, and battle spiritual influence. Ask specifically for God to protect kids from satan’s attacks through technology- from comparison, pornography, secrecy and idolatry. Ask God to establish Truth, wisdom, spiritual discernment and conviction of righteousness as strong voices of influence in our schools. Ask God to amplify the authority of His Word, His will and His ways this year as protective hedges around students of all ages.

Psalm 121:4-5
Behold, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

Psalm 140:4
Keep me, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from violent men who intend to trip up my feet.

Psalm 12:5-7
“Because of the devastation of the poor, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will put him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the Lord are pure words; like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, filtered seven times. You, Lord, will keep them; You will protect him from this generation forever.

Romans 16:19
For the report of your obedience has reached everyone; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.

Matthew 10:16
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves.

Friends
As classes change and students begin, let us ask God to “make a home for the lonely.” Ask for every student to make a connection that God can use this year to make Himself known. Ask God to connect friends and groups, clubs, advisors, teachers in such a way that “leads out the prisoners into prosperity” and “exalts Him… whose name is the Lord”. Ask God to block or break any ties which would lead students into sin and wickedness. Plead the blood of Jesus to cleanse students of the past and reset the standard in hope and righteousness. Invite the Holy Spirit to fill every gap and draw students to the Father and the Son.

Psalm 68:4-6
Sing to God, sing praises to His name; exalt Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord, and be jubilant before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious live in parched lands.

New Roles
For new faculty, or staff in different roles, let’s ask God to make clear His appointment, approval and assignment to each one. Ask God to speak with great clarity and precision to head administrators how to structure and plan the year in such a way everything is “teed up” for God to move. Pray for the relationships of staff and faculty to host understanding, grace and especially honor. Ask God to use those who honor authority to begin healing wounds in students and driving out any spirit of rebellion to make room for faith (see Matthew 8:8-10). Pray specifically for believing leaders, among students or staff, to understand the role and authority God has given them for this season. Pray they will lead in a way that acknowledges the authority God has given them, and surrenders the glory completely to Him.

Stay or Go
For students facing the decision to remain in or quit school, let us ask God to offer grace to endure and run the race set out for them. Specifically ask for advocates, voices of support and strength to come alongside students making decisions to continue/quit school that will speak life and hope into God’s plan and destiny for the student’s life.

John 12:50
And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.

Isaiah 30:21
Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

The power of God from Matthew 9-10

I believe this could be a year of persecution in the name of progress, or transformation because of the power of God. The following are a series of short prayers formed from the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 9-10. Use these “battle prayers” for faith and boldness to help you intercede or pray on behalf of students and their families.  

From Matthew 9:1-8:
-God, grant each one courage to believe his and others’ sins are fully forgiven by Jesus.
-Forgive us for questioning Your authority to heal and forgive.
-Help us each live in awe and faith
-You give all who believe the same authority on earth as Jesus.
-Teach us to do what the Father is doing in wholehearted faith and obedience.

From Matthew 9:9-13:
-Jesus, may each one hear Your personal invitation to follow You.
-Forgive us for judging, evaluating, and criticizing others.
-Teach us compassion more than sacrifice.

From Matthew 9:18-38:
-Jesus, may each bring their fears, problems and pain to You.
-Forgive us for hosting pride and not asking for Your help.
-Release faith and miracles on every campus, in every home, and in every community as You save, heal and deliver students and their families this year.
-Lord, send laborers to disciple every student, sibling, and parent into maturing relationship with Jesus.

From Matthew 10:
-God help us speak the message “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Give to us Your Spirit and humility to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, cast out demons.” (7-8)
-Satisfy us with Your approval in the face of worldly rejection. (12-15)
-Grant us discernment to beware of men and satan’s schemes. May we never shrink back from sharing and trusting Your Word. (16-20)
-Give each Believer grace and protection to endure to the end. (21-23)
-Help us listen to You in the darkness, and speak in the light. Teach us to listen to Your whispers and proclaim them with power and authority from the housetops.
-Show us the severity of the Gospel, that each student would believe the Truth is life and death and not waver in our confession of Christ. (32-39)

Curriculum changes regarding sexuality, race & justice

Hebrews 13:7-9
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their way of life, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever. Do not be misled by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

We want to focus some time to pray for the proposed changes to public school curriculum specifically regarding Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) and Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Comprehensive Sex Education is already in GA schools including Clarke and Barrow counties. “Its goal is to change sexual and gender norms of society” (Protect Student Health Coalition). CSE introduces a program that normalizes high-risk sexual behaviors. It separates marriage from sex while also eliminating the psychological, relational, familial, and spiritual considerations of high-risk sexual activity.

Intended Design
Let’s ask God to re-shape the teaching of this curriculum to agree with His design and purpose for sex- to unite a husband and wife in a holy and sacred intimacy they share with only one another. Ask the Father to protect students from the lie they are subject/slave to their bodies. Ask Holy Spirit to speak life and power into the fruit of self-control, that each student believes he or she can control their own boundaries in a healthy and holy way.

Psalm 16:6-7
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

Identity
Ask the Father to reveal His intended identity to each student, that as He created us we are His children without error or confusion. Ask Holy Spirit to testify with each student’s spirit he or she was made unmistakably in the image of God.  Ask God to make very clear the connection between body, soul and spirit when it comes to both identity and sexuality. Ask Jesus to heal and usher in forgiveness in every area sexual and emotional boundaries have already been crossed, compromised or confused.

Critical Race Theory has not yet been implemented into school curriculum in Georgia as of June. Let’s ask God to make clear His will and ways regarding race, justice and equality. Ask God to lead the decision makers in our counties with wisdom, discernment and clarity. Ask Holy Spirit to convict parents, teachers and students to speak out Truth in every area Satan is speaking confusion, attack and division.  Ask God to expose hidden agendas and deception so the only curriculum taught is God’s Truth. Ask God to heal our wounds, expose our prejudices, and stir compassion in our hearts for all of the human race.

Teacher/administration relationships & culture

Favor for believing faculty
Ask God to show favor to believing staff, that teachers who profess Jesus would be looked upon favorably and considered for greater influence and authority to make decisions that affect kids. Ask God to connect and woo each non-believing student to someone who knows Jesus and can demonstrate the love of Christ to him/her.

Proverbs 3:3-5
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

Power of Life and Death
Ask God to loose words from Heaven over students to bring hope and life. Ask Him to bind words of death or hopelessness that not one student would be cursed or verbally abused in any way. Ask God to make a way for those who speak life and Truth to be amplified and trusted above every other voice. Ask for a righteous shift in the culture among teachers to speak life and not death over students, administration, education standards, district leaders and decisions etc. Ask specifically fro teachers with gifts of exhortation, prophecy and teaching to speak with the authority of Heaven and not man (Mark 1:27, Luke 4:32).

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Exodus 4:15
So you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I Myself will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will instruct you in what you are to do.

John 6:63
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh provides no benefit; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit, and are life.

1 Corinthians 2:13
We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Pray with me…
Father, lead us to your heart for these kids, teachers, administrators and the culture they are creating and with which they are aligning. I want to see this generation of kids shift the trajectory of our nation toward holiness and away from entitlement and confusion. We need You to bring light and expose all that seeks to trap us in darkness. Use this guide and these prayers to highlight, expose, illuminate and clarify our current state in light of your nature and will for us. Lead us into transforming faith and power in the name of Jesus Christ for the sake of redemption throughout our city, state and world. May these prayers fuel the flames of repentance, revival, and restoration You are sowing into our city. We want to see on earth as it is in Heaven, in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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This amazing prayer guide was assembled Kelsey Parham. Thank you Kelsey for taking the time to seek the Lord regarding how we are to focus our praying for all the kids going back to school. And thank you everyone who have invested in the students of Athens Georgia by praying for them at the vigil and in the days, weeks and months that lie before us.