Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prayer for new high school

Last week I had the honor of participating in a community-wide prayer service for the opening of our new high school.  The youth minister at the local Pentecostal Holiness Church did a masterful job of creating an ecumenical service involving pastors from a dozen or so local churches.  Our senior pastor was out of town, so the request came to me.  I thought it appropriate that our youth minister have the opportunity, but she had a schedule conflict that prevented her from being able to.  That being the case, I was much more than happy -- honored -- to be able to participate in a very moving, meaningful service.  There were welcomes from the mayor, the superintendent, and the principal ... then each minister in turn led in prayer for various concerns connected with the new high school.  I was asked to pray for safety.  Privately, my prayers are always extemporaneous ... as they often are for Sunday morning worship as well.  For a public meeting like this, I prefer to write out my prayer (praying as I do so) in advance.  The text of my prayer follows (with personal names omitted out of respect for the personal privacy of people whose professional position of leadership places their names in the public eye more often than I would want mine to be):

Eternal and all-powerful God, Creator of the universe and Savior of the world through Jesus Christ, rescue us from the anxiety that causes us to fear that our failure to say the right words to You at this moment might limit Your desire or Your freedom or Your power to protect all who serve, lead, teach, and learn in this place.  Remind us that our trust is in You and in You alone and not in the words that we may speak (or fail to speak).  Your word reminds us that You are a shield to all who take refuge in You (2 Sam. 22:31; Psalm 18:30).  Father, when we think of the evil and unhealthy things that CAN happen on a high school campus, our hearts cry out to You, because You alone can protect us from the attacks of the evil one.

Hear our prayers for [the principal (by name)] and the administration of [this school].  We lift them up to You as we entrust the safety of our teenagers to their care.  We ask that you would protect them and lead them into wise decisions and wise actions. 

Hear our prayers for the teachers, coaches, and mentors who serve here, whom we trust not only with the molding and shaping of young minds, but also with the character development of valuable young men and women.  Guard and protect them from any temptation to use their position of authority in any way that would harm another.  Keep us mindful that you have so linked our lives with one another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide these teachers, coaches, and mentors in the work that they do, that they may do it not for self alone, but for the common good of their fellow faculty members and the students whose lives they are shaping.

Hear our prayers for the support staff of [this school].  May you protect them and enable them to create an environment that enhances learning and healthy growth.  May this place be clean, orderly and free from distractions.  May the meals that are served here free the students from the distraction of hunger.

Father, we ask Your protection on this physical campus … on the classrooms, hallways, offices, common areas, parking lots, practice fields, gymnasiums, locker rooms, rehearsal rooms, art studios … that [this school]’s campus may be a place known for righteousness, excellence, safety, inquiry, and growth.  From all that would harm our children and those who serve to lead and to teach on this campus, we ask Your protection.

O Eternal God, bless [this school], that she may be a lively center for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach {here} and those who learn {here} may find You to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.(Book of Common Prayer).

 The last paragraph is almost a direct quote from the Book of Common Prayer.  Language in the third paragraph of the prayer is borrowed and adapted from the Book of Common Prayer as well.

Why am I posting this?  I don't know.  Perhaps in hope that it will edify someone.

That's enough to think about for now.


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