You’ve likely heard about the national school walkout happening tomorrow:
Thousands of students will engage in a historic, national demonstration by walking out of their classrooms for 17 minutes—at 10 a.m. in all time zones– to honor the 17 students and staff who were tragically murdered in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. It will likely impact your community—more than 180,000 school kids are expected to participate.
Why the walkout?
Many students simply want a significant way to memorialize those who lost their lives, several of whom heroically sacrificed their own life or incurred injuries while protecting others. Other participants are taking it further—hoping to focus attention on specific legislative action in an effort to prevent more public shootings.
But regardless of where we each stand on gun-control issues or political parties, one thing is certain:
We can all empathize with the grief, fear and helplessness gripping these kids’ hearts—and motivating them to channel those powerful emotions into palpable action.
That’s why, at Focus on the Family, we invite you to join our staff in setting aside 17 minutes tomorrow —whether you are a student on campus, an adult in the workplace or a parent juggling busy schedules—to pray for our students and their schools. While we’re aware some have ridiculed public calls for prayer, that has not swayed our unshakeable conviction in the Bible’s promise of the very real, tangible impact of intercession to spur both societal and spiritual change (James 5:16; Hebrews 4:16).
Beginning with prayer is also a way to humble ourselves and gain perspective, remembering that as humans we too often fail to see the bigger picture or demonstrate true love to our neighbors. So please join with us tomorrow in praying for:
1. The safety of our students. For this prayer we turn to 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” We know that students—and their parents too—have had their sense of security shaken at a core level, so we pray for God to restore a sense of peace and well-being to their minds, as well as to the atmosphere in school hallways. Since we know the Bible says fear is not from God, we ask God to drive out the chaos and darkness attempting to reign in our kids’ schools. We ask our Father in heaven to replace dread and anxiety with his love and light in the hearts of our children.
2. Healing for broken hearts. The Bible also reminds us that God “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). So we lift up in prayer the children and families in our nation who have been traumatized by violence—whether in schools or hidden in the homes. We pray for God’s healing in the deepest levels of their souls—those levels that often remain unseen by human eyes and therefore untouchable without God’s help. We pray also for healing from trauma in the lives of children who are at risk of one day becoming a shooter or attacker. We are aware that it is not only violence causing trauma in too many children’s lives—it is also other social ills, including the cycle of addiction, the emotional and mental struggles causing heartbreak for so many, the cultural stresses threatening to tear marriages apart and leave more little boys fatherless or little girls without their mother. We cry out for our Lord to have mercy on our nation in each of these areas. We do this because we have confidence that Jesus came to this earth and gave His life to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” Isaiah 61:1
3. Restoration of a culture of life. Though the Bible makes clear that every single person—without exception–was created in the image of God and has innate, eternal worth (Gen. 1:27; Psalm 139:13-14), tragically, many of our youth do not see their lives as having any kind of eternal dignity or hope. In my blog, I talk about “the lost culture” that students “have inherited from us. It’s a lost culture that mocks or ignores God and His timeless teaching, living for only carnal pleasures and temporary thrills.” So we pray that God would forgive us as a nation for degrading life and celebrating death instead. Help us, Lord, to communicate God’s love for life to the next generation. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).
4. Youth to be filled with strength and courage. This is a prayer for the Christian youth in our schools to have the courage and confidence to speak God’s truth where there is confusion, to share Jesus’ love and comfort where there is hopelessness and dismay. Though they may have their own struggles and weakness, we ask for God to inspire these youth with the power and compassion that comes through humble dependence: “The Lord is my light and my salvation;whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). A great way to encourage the youth in your life is to share these videos featuring the stories of students who found creative ways to share God’s love with friends during Bring Your Bible to School Day.
5. Finally, we pray for our nation’s leaders to have humility and wisdom as they search for solutions. We’ve often hear the promise that if God’s people will humble themselves and repent, he will “hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). So we join together to ask God’s forgiveness for the pride and selfishness that has led us to create more division instead of unity and to think we can solve the sinfulness of the human heart without His help. We ask for His mercy in granting us wisdom and discernment as we move forward and work together to make our nation’s schools safe, to protect our children and to address the plethora of issues that lie beneath a tragic school shooting.
Thank you for joining us to spend just a few minutes surrounding our nation’s schoolchildren with prayer. Please feel free to share your own prayers in the comment section below.