A Back to School Prayer

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God of the Ages, who cares deeply about what transpires in both the sanctuary and the classroom; at both the dinner table and the cafeteria; in both the home and the hallways of our educational institutions:  We cry out to you on behalf of our students.  Some of these students are very young, heading off for their first day of pre-school.  Some are a bit older, making ready for elementary school or middle school or high school.  Others are headed off to college, or perhaps into a new season of graduate study.  Others are entering the workforce in order to begin a journey of lifelong learning.

Open the minds of the students, that they might be available to their teachers and receptive to meaningful learning.  Open their hearts, that they might be compassionately attentive to the other people whose lives intersect with theirs in the journey of their education.  Even now, O God, the faces of many different students are appearing in our prayerful reflection.  Grant that, as the students learn about mathematics and science and literature and language, they might also learn a deeper reverence for the One in whom all knowledge is ultimately to be found.

We cry out to you on behalf of our teachers. Strengthen them in their labor.  Energize them in their task.  Guard them against the kind of negativity and cynicism that can make a classroom into a cold and hurtful place.  Deepen their love, not only for their subject matter, but also for the ones they teach.  By the power of your Holy Spirit, equip these teachers to be the instruments of compassionate tutelage that you are calling them to be.

We cry out to you on behalf of our school administrators and staff.  College presidents, deans, financial officers, planners, and registrars.  Superintendents, principals, vice-principals, and guidance counselors.  Nurses, school psychologists, and behavioral counselors.  Administrative assistants, receptionists, custodial staff, security officers, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers.  These are the souls whose sacred responsibility it is to generate a safe and nurturing environment in which holistic learning might take place.  Bless them with an ever-deepening awareness of their purpose, and grant to them the strength to fulfill it.

We cry out to you on behalf of families that are struggling in painful ways during this season of transition.  Some parents are dealing with the anxiety of seeing their child step onto a school bus for the very first time.  Some parents are finding it particularly difficult to let their children go as they head off to college in this often-frightening world.  Some children and youth are burdened by a sense of insecurity as they enter into a new season of life and learning.  Weave the different threads of these family circumstances into the rich and vibrant tapestry of your grace, so that the members of these families might be drawn closer to one another and closer to you.

Build a protective fortress, O God, around our schools and our institutions of higher learning.  Guard them against violence, hatred, bullying, and hurtful manipulation. Make every classroom and office into a sanctuary for your presence, so that, through our system of education, many will be led to recognize that a reverence for you is the beginning of all wisdom.  We pray this in the trustworthy name of Jesus Christ, whose transforming Lordship is our highest learning and whose grace is the curriculum by which we live, move, and find our being.  Amen.

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